IBM Cognos BI, what’s new in version 10.2

Published 1st July 2014

Lindsey O’Grady – Practice Lead Report & Analyse

Highlights

  • RAVE Visualisations (new charting – waterfall charts, heat maps, tag clouds etc.) for report studio, active reports, workspace (formally Business Insight).
  • New OLAP (cube) technology – Dynamic Cubes, no cube build time required, no cube size limits and in-memory so it’s fast to return the data.
  • Workspace now works on tabs, allowing for multi-tab dashboarding capabilities.
  • Workspace has a global area, the content of which applies to and displays on all tabs, such as a company logo, or a period filter.
  • Freezing column headings for HTML reports in Report Studio and Workspace.
  • Report booklets can now be created in Report Studio which is a report which references other reports and combines them together into one booklet, even if they are from different packages/cubes.

RAVE Visualisations
“New ways to analyse data… Visually”

RAVE (Rapidly Adaptive Visualisation Engine) Visualisations is a powerful new component of Cognos BI from version 10.2.1 which displays your data in a more visual way than more traditional charts. Such visualisations may include heat maps, waterfall charts and tag clouds to name just a few. Visualisations are becoming a key trend in today’s business as people crave to understand and analyse their data in a more visual way than just a sea of numbers on a spreadsheet. The visualisations are extensible which means that once you’ve upgraded to 10.2.1 there isn’t a static list of visualisations on offer – as new ones are developed, they can be downloaded from IBM Analytics Zone and made available to your existing BI version without the need to wait for a new software release. They can authored in Report Studio, Workspace Advanced and can also be brought into Workspace.

Dynamic Cubes

“Cubes which can return large data sets fast with no need for data imports or cube builds”

One of the most exciting new releases of 10.2 is Dynamic Cubes. They are a new type of cube along with a new cubing designing software. The cubes connect directly to your data warehouse data and don’t require a data import or lengthy cube build time to refresh the data. There are no size limitations on the cubes, like Powerplay cubes, therefore supporting growing business challenges for “big data” (buzz term for big data sets which are too large for traditional reporting tools and methods to analyse but businesses have growing pressure to analyse to remain competitive). Up until now, many tried to use DMR cubes (Dimensionally Modelled Relational) which also don’t have a size limit and connect directly to your data warehouse data, but are abandoned for models based on big data because they were too slow. Dynamic cubes are very quick to return data as cube views work in-memory.

Workspace

“Merging disparate BI content into one place with multiple tabs”

Business Insight and Business Insight Advanced have been renamed to Cognos Workspace and Cognos Workspace Advanced. Workspace brings together a selection of components from existing reports onto one page with enhanced features such as filters, comments, create calculations etc. In effect it creates a “dashboard” of a person’s key report components. There have been significant improvements to Workspace in 10.2 including:

  • A multi-tabbed environment – particularly useful if you need to split the content into different areas such as Marketing, Sales, HR or etc.
  • Global area – with the introduction of multiple tabs, there is a chance of repetition of content on each tab such as a company logo or a period filter. The global area is shared across all tabs, making reports quick to compile and maintain.
  • Chart interaction – actions can be applied to charts or parts of a chart such as filtering.
  • Freeze column and row headings
  • Printing a workspace – The print preview feature in a web browser enables you to adjust settings such as scaling and orientation to make your workspace fit on a printed page.

Workspace Advanced allows users to author new content from relational (flat data e.g. lists) or dimensional (cubes) packages meaning just one tool to learn for different package types. 10.2 includes the facility to use RAVE Visualisations broadening the range of reporting options on offer.

Example of Workspace

Report Studio

“The Ultimate Customisation of Complex Report Design”

Report Studio is a staple part of the Cognos BI reporting suite offering the widest range of customisations to a report from relational (flat data e.g. lists) or dimensional (cubes) packages. It’s particularly useful for more complex requirements such as maps, hyperlinks, prompt pages and bursting (running a report once and the outputs splits into multiple files – one per category, sales area etc.). It also has the facility to produce offline, interactive, animated, HTML-style reports known as Active Reports. Improvements in 10.2 include:

  • RAVE Visualisations now available to Active Reports as well as regular reports
  • Improved Active Report performance.
  • New Report Booklet – which is a report which references other reports and combines them together into one booklet, even if they are from different packages/cubes.
  • Options to group or ungroup repeating cells when exported to Excel 2007 format
  • Facility to create member sets which are shared between reports – dimensional packages only.

Example of an Active Report

Mobile

“Reports on the Go”

IBM Cognos Mobile extends interactive Cognos Business Intelligence to a broad range of mobile devices, including iPhone and iPad, Android and tablets. Users can view and fully interact with Cognos reports, dashboards, metrics, analysis and other information in a security-rich environment. Improvements in 10.2 include:

  • Push notifications when new reports are available.
  • Faster performance for multi-page reports – pages are retrieved and presented one at a time rather than all at once.
  • Zooming on active reports using pinch gesture.
  • Enhanced support for HTML reports in the following areas: additional fonts, page layout, prompt controls, drill-through actions, saved HTML output.
  • Reports can now be burst onto a mobile device. Bursting is running a report once and the outputs splits into multiple files – one per category, sales area, etc.

Architecture and Performance

Multi-Tenant Environment – Multi-tenancy provides the capability to support multiple customers or organizations (tenants) by using a single deployment of an application, while ensuring that the users belonging to each tenant can access only the data that they are authorized to use.

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