Cognos 10 was released this week, with much fanfare (and fireworks - seriously) at IBM’s Information on Demand conference in Las Vegas. I’ve been exploring the interface and feature set on my own test environment the past few days and here are a few early conclusions.
My Top 3 features for highest immediate impact:
1. Business Insight Advanced
They’ve taken analysis studio, query studio, (and maybe even report studio express author mode) and condensed them all into a single, intuitive, uniform, incredibly snappy and responsive user experience.
- The interface is FAST. Both OLAP and Relational package metadata are quick to return. Even DMR members in the metadata tree are coming back instantaneously in my test environment.
- The UI is intuitive, clean and uniform regardless of data source type or package. No longer do power users need to learn 2-3 studios to do their job. Best of all the interface is incredibly similar to report studio, which creates a continuous experience for those users who graduate to the latter full fledged development environment.
2. External Data Wizard
3. Active Reports
I saw a great tweet on the #Cognos10 hash stream that sums up my feelings on this feature pretty well:
I’m starting to understand the #cognos10 disconnected reports. It’s so [much] more than just letting execs run dashboards on airplanes. #iodgc
One of the more complicated challenges that organizations encounter is getting content out to external users. These can be sales reps, agents and agencies, stores, franchises, etc. The bottom line is everyone in or around your organization, whether or not they are tethered to your intranet can extract the value from a rich interactive analytical experience. I think distributed active reports may be the solution for a lot of those scenarios, instead of trying to facilitate direct access to Cognos Connection for your remote users.
I like Business Insight (or as some may know it in its prior form, Go! Dashboard) as a very elegant solution for dashboarding for the masses. Its the evolution of self service which has traditionally been more often about answering specific granular questions at a whim, and less about building your own tailored high level view of the world. I think by making dashboarding more accessible, its going to help organizations move faster along that BI maturity curve from a pure reporting culture to a true analytical culture.
Lifecycle Manager has garnered a lot of buzz, which surprises me because its a tool thats been around for 3-4 years under the name of Upgrade Manager. Its always been provided as a free download to any customer. I have yet to unwrap this latest iteration, but from what I can tell from the demos, its the same old upgrade manager we know and love. Regardless, its an outstanding utility that everyone should be using to manage upgrades, migrations and regular changes to content. There is a time investment up front, but its usually well worth it.
Charting has been updated to keep up with the Joneses. Most of the additions are in the form of “chromed” or 3D chart variations which as a student of both Edward Tufte and Stephen Few, I find rather disappointing. To be honest I’ve probably had more client requests for shiny 3D charts than true visually quantitative ones, so such is the status quo. What is noteworthy is the addition of a Bullet Chart, which is a much better quantitative alternative to a gauge chart.
Sadly, there are still no Treemaps which are a superior alternative to the Marimekko chart thats been included for some time. I guess if I had to pick a single area of potential enhancement for which I had higher expectations, it would have to be charting.
Dynamic Query Analyzer is another potential killer app for Cognos administrators. Its long been a tedious process of troubleshooting and tuning queries in Cognos, that typically involves multiple applications and a lot of cutting and pasting. This utility (built on the eclipse platform) brings it all together in one place and provides a visual interface for tuning and debugging your problem queries. I have yet to fully test it, but I have high hopes for it as an indispensable asset for Cognos administrators and developers everywhere.
The bottom line this is an outstanding release, with so much more under the hood in terms of performance improvements that I could never begin to experience in my test environment and I very much look forward to the opportunity to help guide my clients into production on Cognos 10, be it a migration or new implementation.
If you have questions about Cognos 10, training or implementation - pop on over to The Ironside Group, and keep an eye out for more insightful Cognos 10 technical tips and commentary on the company blog.