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09/01/2015

Get a fresh perspective on optimising Cognos BI

Key questions to ask yourself and insights from other Cognos BI users.

Could you get more from your Cognos investment?

If your answer’s yes, then you aren’t alone. Recent conversations with data professionals from a variety of enterprise organisations reveal increasing pressure to get the most from their Cognos investment across a range of applications. They want improved performance now and an early advantage from adopting new BI developments, including predictive and cognitive analytics.

Are your Cognos opportunities and problems similar to others?

It’s most likely your opportunity to improve Cognos within your BI solution will be similar to others. Some enterprises tell us they’re having significant problems with one or more of the aspects below. Others are confident and seeking to extend business intelligence leadership in their sector, including predictive analytics and cognitive analytics.

The broad opportunities and problems being addressed include:

  • Ensuring trust in data
  • Increasing speed
  • Optimising Cognos functionality
  • Maximising ease of use and adoption by business users
  • Preparing to support predictive and cognitive analytics developments

To some extent each of these issues are interdependent. For example, trust in data and analytics speed hugely impact on user adoption.

Of course, with the scale and complexity of Cognos BI, it’s one thing knowing what your overall problem or opportunity is and another thing finding the best solution.

The following are some of the Cognos related questions we’ve been discussing with data and IT professionals, together with some answers and solutions that could give you a fresh perspective.

Is poor trust in data costing you money and opportunity?

Ensuring total trust in data, organisation-wide, underpins the success of every enterprise BI solution. User confidence to make important decisions and effectively run operations based on BI insights and information is vital to optimise return from your BI investment. Furthermore, confidence in data leads to a willingness to innovate and exploit new analytics opportunities. Untrusted data creates cost, sometimes hidden. Have you got people rectifying data, reloading or reproducing reports or hesitating to use data in decisions?

Whatever the data trust problem is, there is always a solution. Naturally, the first step is precisely identifying the issue. Ask the obvious question – who is not trusting the data and why? Then it’s a case of tracing that back through your information management environment, including considering:

  • Data and source
  • Technology configuration
  • Calculations
  • Hierarchies
  • Metadata
  • Aggregations
  • Cube designs
  • ETL/source system stability
  • Data governance
Are you suffering from slow business intelligence?

The symptoms and complaints that come with slow analytics are pretty obvious and can impact significantly on business performance, competitive advantage, data trust and user adoption.

There really is no excuse for slow data. Cognos BI technology and contemporary processes makes crunching vast amounts of data at speed easily possible. If your analytics is running slow then it’s most likely to be a configuration issue.

For example, you may be batch processing massive data loads, which could be reduced or even avoided. Configured properly with other technology like InfoSphere, Cognos supports more real time streaming and less batch processing. Solutions are most commonly:

  • Infrastructure configuration
  • ETL design
  • Cube design
  • Utilising Cognos performance functionality e.g. Dynamic Query
  • Pre-aggregation of data
  • Calculation location
  • Pre-processing through bursting
  • Presentation Layer design

You can also speed things up with a recent IBM DB2 release called BLU Acceleration, a great partner to Cognos providing a unique ability to aggregate data, only loading the right data for users to perform a particular task and therefore significantly improving performance.

It’s also worth checking that you and your teams are fully up to speed with latest best practice and new features and releases from IBM.

Are you making use of all the Cognos features you’ve paid for?

Sure, Cognos can perform any BI task you require. The suite is packed with powerful functionality, however it isn’t always optimised. This is often down to a lack of knowledge or time. A problem made more difficult when new releases such as the recent Cognos 10.2.2 adds a wide range of important new features.

The opportunities for every organisation differ depending on business need, application and what features are currently deployed. The only way to identify the opportunities is to audit what you have configured already and compare it to what is available. This could be a big task if you’re unfamiliar with what Cognos offers but at the same time there may be opportunities that could substantially improve speed, usability, trust and adoption.

It’s surprising more organisations don’t use of proof of concept projects to explore and review new ideas and possibilities amongst user groups. Those that do seem to be quicker in embracing new BI developments and advantages.

What’s your plan to fully realise the future benefits of Cognos BI?

With Cognos you have a powerful BI capability. How will you maximise benefits from the current solution? Where else in your business could Cognos add value? What are the opportunities to integrate developments such as BLU Acceleration into your BI? There are a lot of important questions being considered.

Some organisations already have a clear overall roadmap that needs to be implemented, they are confident in their current solution, are aware of innovations, engaged with front-line users and are investing in expertise and technology in order to speed up advances, whilst others are struggling with the here and now.

Have you recognised one or two similarities between your Cognos issues and other organisations we’ve been talking to? We hope you have found some inspiration or insight that will help.

EBI consultants know about optimising Cognos. Why not ask one of our team for more information and a fresh perspective on your opportunities. Contact.

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