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17/02/2016

Cognos Analytics: The next generation BI

Towards the end of last year IBM released the latest version of Cognos BI, rebranding it Cognos Analytics. Known for its enterprise scalability and trusted reporting structure, Cognos had built its name as the BI tool that companies ran their business on, but perhaps not where they would turn for building visually appealing dashboards, or experimenting with ad-hoc querying. With huge investments made into the front end, Cognos Analytics now has a sleek and intuitive interface, and a vast array of visualisations for building the all-important board reports and dashboards. The key message with the latest release is simple; it is possible to have a governed and controlled central BI function, which still gives business users the flexibility they need to achieve their own self-service analytics. Below is a summary of some of the new features and functionality:

  • Unified user experience

With Cognos Analytics, users seamlessly move from one capability to the next as part of a consistent, unified user experience. A new portal hosts report and dashboard authoring and web-based modelling functions in a single browser tab united by a common look and feel. Furthermore, the portal, report viewers and dashboards are all touch enabled, so mobile, tablet, PC and Mac users have the same user interface.

  • Smarter search

As the Google generation reigns supreme, Cognos addresses the growing need for smart search and quick answers. New search capabilities have been fully integrated into the redesigned portal using a powerful, fast and scalable search engine that requires no administration and is always up to date. Searching in natural language, results cover reports, dashboards, data sets and modules, and even metadata within the data set. Recent searches are remembered and regular searches can be saved.

  • Authoring and reports

Report Studio has been upgraded with a new user experience accessible through the portal’s New Report menu or by editing a report. Users can author and maintain all the same reports as in previous releases. Authoring includes all of the combined capabilities of Report Studio and Cognos Workspace Advanced.

  • Web-based modeling

Web-based modeling allows users to access and shape data from data servers or uploaded files. Data Modules can be created by fusing together many sources of data including relational databases, Apache Hadoop-based technologies, and Microsoft Excel or CSV files. Data Modules are accessible as soon as they are saved, just like a report or dashboard.

  • Intent-driven modelling

Users can employ intent-driven modeling to add tables into a Data Module. The tool suggests tables to include in the module based on matches between the terms users enter and metadata in the underlying sources. As mentioned above, though they do offer more flexibility to the growing community of self-service BI users, Data Modules do not replace Framework Manager or Cube Designer, which remain the IT-centric modeling interfaces and continue to be supported.

Whether you are an existing Cognos user looking to upgrade to this latest version, or new to BI and requiring a solution that meets the analytic needs of business users, we would certainly suggest a look at Cognos Analytics and a discussion about data sources. Please use the Contact Us page to arrange a call.

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