IBM Cognos Analytics R5 Dashboard Enhancements
Date: 02/02/2017

By Rory Cornelius

In Cognos Analytics 11.0.5 (R5), dashboard enhancements top the list of new and improved tools in the Cognos toolbox. Among the many new dashboarding features in R5, two of the biggest are: being able to access Framework Manager packages directly and, the one we've all be waiting for ... the new geospatial analytics with MapBox integration!Let's take a closer look at the IBM Cognos Analytics R5 dashboard enhancements and explore how these features improve the dashboarding tool and drive better analytics.

Framework Manager Package Access

The first release of Cognos Analytics 11.0 brought Dashboards that could only use uploaded data. Later, the ability to access Data Modules on top of Framework Manager packages was made available. In this release, while all of that is still there, you can also use an FM package directly as long as your package is published as DQM or it’s connected to a JDBC datasource. To use it, simply create a new Dashboard and select the FM Package as your data source. In this case, I’ll use GO sales (query).

Framework Manager Package Access.png

The FM Package will be displayed in a tree on the left just like any other data source allowing you to drag and drop to the Dashboard as needed. Another new feature that was added is the ability to do a text search within the package. For example, if I wanted to make a dashboard about Sales Regions but I’m not sure where they exist within the package, I could type that in the search bar. It will show the query items and data items that match my “sales region” search term.

FM Package_sales region.png

From there, you can use it like a regular data source. Select the desired data items or visualization and drag it onto the canvas. Here I selected Year, Product Line, and Revenue. It automatically creates a line graph showing the change in each product line over the available years.

FM Package_sales query.png

 

MapBox Map Integration

Cognos maps have been lacking for quite some time, but this release gives us the first taste of what the new partnership with MapBox and Pitney Bowes has promised to deliver. Release R5 provides a new visualization in the Dashboard tool for a fully interactive map. While this is not the full-fledged version with multiple levels and custom polygons, it does create the basis to build on map functionality for 2017. Currently only Countries and States are supported.

Let’s start with something simple. I’ll drag in the new Map visualization and add Retailer Province/State and Revenue. Initially this causes an error message:

Map integration_error.png

This is due to the sample data including multiple countries, some of which do not have Province/State information. To fix this, I’ll drag Retailer Country into another spot on the dashboard. This will allow me to filter for only the United States. With this in place, the map now shows the US with color coded states representing the revenue.

Map integration_retailer country.png

This map is customizable from within the Data asset properties menu. You can adjust colors, legend position, and choose from a variety of map styles:

Map integration_map styles.png

As you can see, the style here is “Streets”. If I zoom in closer highways and city names start to appear:

Map integration_zoom.png

In future releases, these maps will be able to go down to three levels of Zip/Postal codes along with the ability to add custom features through GeoJSON or drawing them from within MapBox Studio. For now, these basic maps provide a nicer user experience even if their functionality is fairly limited.

RAVE2 Visualisation Engine with Pan and Zoom

The visualizations are even more interactive with this release. Charts have been updated to use the new RAVE2 engine. You’ll also notice a new icon at the bottom that lets you toggle between pan and zoom.

RAVE2_Pan and zoom.png

By selecting the crosshairs you can move the chart around on the dashboard. The hand icon locks the location on the page but lets you pan and zoom within the visualization itself. You can also use your scroll wheel to zoom in or out.

Clear Filters from any Visualisation

One fairly simple addition for ease of use is the ability to clear a filter from any visualization. Previously, if you had a filter object on your dashboard you had to go back to that object to remove the filter. Now you can see a filter icon in the top right corner of all visualizations that have been filtered. Click on that icon and a little dropdown appears showing all the filters that have been applied. Next to each is a small “X” icon. Clicking on that will remove the filter.

Map integration_retailer country filter.png

Pinned Headers in Crosstabs

Another nice to have feature for interacting with data is the automatic freezing of column and row headers within a crosstab. Just create a crosstab as usual and all headers will be frozen as you scroll down or to the right.

Map functionality_crosstabs.png

Conclusion

IBM’s new “release every few months” schedule keeps bringing us new features that help round out our analytics toolbox. With R5 we can access a Framework Manager package directly from a dashboard without creating an intermediary data module. It also lays the groundwork for the exciting new MapBox maps and RAVE2 visualizations which promise to bring a score of new functionality in upcoming releases. Cognos Analytics 11.0.6 (R6) is right around the corner but in the meantime, if you have any questions or would like help incorporating these new features into your reporting solution, please reach out to us via the contacts below:


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email Carsten Brandt
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    email Chris Loechel


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