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IBM Cognos Analytics 11.0.7 - New Features Spotlight

by Martin Rivera

Nov 27, 2017

With each release of Cognos Analytics, IBM has introduced many useful, insightful features to enhance the end-user experience and provide functionality that keeps IBM at the front of the pack in the Business Analytics space. 

Cognos Analytics 11.0.7 is no exception.  With an array of new features and enhancements ranging from user interface (UI)  look and feel, more user-friendly self-service tools, and improvements to maps, and extending to more advanced filter capabilities in Reporting as well as Dashboards, Cognos Analytics 11.0.7 allows for a more robust and engaging user experience.

In this article, we will highlight 5 cool new features that should come in very handy.

1. New Homepage Look and Feel

A simple but very useful new feature set is the newly reorganized look and feel for the Cognos Analytics home page.  See below for a snapshot of enhancements to the home screen.

Homepage 1
  1. Home button on the top left corner.  Provides a quick, easy way to return home with fewer clicks than before.
  2. Tiles on the middle of screen display recently used assets, where previous versions just displayed empty space in this area.
  3. Cleaner, reorganized “Manage” section on the bottom left of the screen, decreasing clutter.
  4. Drag and drop area for uploading files.
  5. Quick Reference section.  Allows easy access to videos and articles on product usage, sample data and support information.

2. Dashboard Widget Controls and Interactions

The Dashboard tool includes additional controls to enhance the behavior and interaction among widgets.  

Auto- Refresh Widgets

Within the properties of the visualization, there is now a setting to specify whether to refresh automatically, as well as specifying a time period (in seconds, minutes, or hours).
Auto refresg Widgets

Connect or Disconnect Widgets 

When applying filters in a dashboard, we can now control which widgets connected to which filters by connecting or disconnecting to specific “channels”, allowing for some widgets to keep a specific data set displayed, while others react to interactive filter selections.

The image below shows an example of a dashboard with several widgets, where some are connected to channel 1, and some to channel 2. 

  • To view and modify widget connection, tap the View widget connections icon (circled in red). 
  • You can then view which widgets are connected to which channel, and modify or disconnect accordingly.  
Widgets

3. Enhanced Filtering Capabilities 

Improved filtering functionality has been introduced in both the Dashboard and Reporting tools, allowing end-users much greater control and interactivity. 

Dashboard

There is a new filter area displayed below the Dashboard title, which is divided into two sections:  All tabs, and This Tab. These two areas can be resized or hidden to make best use of screen real estate.  More importantly, this allows specific filters filter to be defined that will affect all tabs within a dashboard, or just a specific one.

The example below illustrates a 3-tab dashboard, where a filter for Retailer country is applied to all tabs (1), while a filter for Retailer type is applied only to the current tab (2).  We can see the pop-up  filter interface as a drop down check box group, by clicking on the Retailer type filter text.  
Filtering

Additional filter capabilities in Dashboard also include interactive filtering by right-clicking on widget objects and top-bottom count % for measure values.

Reporting

 Interactive filtering has been added to HTML reports, to allow the interactive report consumer unprecedented power and flexibility to perform simple but, critical tasks and greatly enhance the reporting and analysis experience, while also reducing dependency on report developers. 

Users can right-click on any object to display the filter options pop-up menu and choose simple filter options such as: Include/Exclude specific values, Include/Exclude Nulls, or create a custom filter, or remove existing ones.  Once created, filters can be shown in a panel that can be viewed by clicking on the filter icon at the top right of the toolbar as shown in the screenshot below (yellow arrow). 

The filter panel will display all filters applies on the report.  When the user clicks on a specific filter, visualizations affected by that specific filter are highlighted by a dotted line border, as shown by the orange arrow below.  

Reporting

4. Improved Functionality for Maps 

Map visualizations are a major focus area for all BI tools today, and Cognos Analytics 11.0.7 adds useful new features to maps, both in Dashboard as well as Reporting.  These new features bring the Cognos Analytics map reports further in the direction of providing comprehensive geo spatial analytical capabilities. 

In both Dashboard and Reporting, you can now add multiple location categories, to reduce or eliminate ambiguous locations. 

The screenshots below effectively illustrate a simple example of how this new feature comes in handy.  This map visualization shows States or Provinces shaded from lightest to darkest, by Revenue. 

Screenshot 1 shows the map with only 1 location category defined, Province or State.  Note that the state of Florida is not shaded at all, even though there is data for Florida.  Also, we receive a warning on the top right that Florida is an ambiguous location.  That is because, as a simple online search will reveal,  there are several locations across the world named Florida.  These include cities, states or provinces across several continents.  Therefore, the map engine does not know exactly which Florida we are referring to.  
Mapd

As shown here in screenshot 2, when we are able to add another location category, in this case, Retailer country, the map engine is able to realize the additional context.  We know see Florida appropriately shaded, as the map engine is able to infer that we mean the state of Florida, within the country of The United States. 

Maps 2 

Additionally, similar to the existing feature in Dashboard, maps in the Reporting tool now offer the ability to plot up to three different measures by location: one by shading a region, and the other two by point size and color saturation. 

This example shows three different measures represented. 

  1. The red gradient region shading represent Product Cost
  2. The point size represents Revenue
  3. The blue gradient point color shading represents Planned Revenue.
Maps 3

5. Interactive Performance Assistant for Reporting 

A great new feature to aid report authors in performance monitoring and troubleshooting activities is the new Interactive Performance Assistance.  This allows you to see the performance of each visualization within a report, and identify performance bottlenecks or simply monitor compliance with SLAs.  This feature is available when running reports in HTML, or when using the preview mode, within the authoring mode in Reporting.

To activate the Interactive Performance Assistance, click on the Run Options button from the toolbar, and select “Show Run Options”.

Performance Assistant


Then within the Run Options pop-up screen (shown at the right), check the box at the bottom labeled, “Include Performance Details”.  It’s that simple! 

Now when you run your report, you will see the execution time of each visualization, in milliseconds, as highlighted in the example below.  

Performance Assistant 2

That concludes the main features that IBM released in version 11.7. Now that 11.8 has been released, look out for a blog on any pertinent new features from the latest version coming soon.

Interested in learning more about your options for upgrading to Cognos Analytics, either on-premise or on the cloud? Click here to learn about your upgrade options or request a demonstration from myself or a member of the CCG team. 

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