BY NIKITA ATKINS, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT
IBM Cognos TM1 10.2 Release
TM1 Version 10.2 has been released which has seen a plethora of changes to the architecture, functionality and ultimately its overall performance.
One of the most asked for features has been the ability to do budgeting and subsequent reviews on the move. Now with TM1 10.2 we now have IBM Cognos TM1 Mobile Contributor. This mobile application for Apple iPad allows users to:
- Access all planning applications from Cognos TM1 Applications
- View submission status for all approval nodes
- Interact with cube views in a grid or chart format
- Change values on the iPad and submit back to the plan where the data is updated on the Cognos TM1 server.
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With every release of IBM TM1, I seem to say that performance is getting better, and yet again IBM seems to keep on reducing the time it takes to query and write back to TM1. TM1 10.2 sees another performance improvement by utilising full system capacity, especially through the use of multi-threaded queries, and removing of bottlenecks associated with using TM1 across WANs.
This has come about by IBM rebuilding the TM1 architecture on Java, rather than Microsoft .NET. Furthermore TM1 now comes with a faster Java based web application server that is faster than Microsoft IIS. This means that TM1 Web Users are experiencing faster load times, lower network traffic, less screen flashing and shorter wait times when submitting new values.
As a long term user of Metrics Studio comes the most significant change to scorecarding since the original KPI Pack.
Now with TM1 you can create custom scorecard and six sigma solutions that contain interactive impact diagrams, strategy maps, and custom diagrams that monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs). The underlying data is stored in Cognos TM1 and can be published to users in IBM Cognos Insight, IBM Cognos TM1 Web, and IBM Cognos Workspace as interactive dashboards.
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A metrics dimension and metrics indicator dimension form a metrics cube. The metrics cube is used to store and manage the data used to generate impact diagrams, strategy maps, and scorecarding diagrams.
The benefits are obviously, with a much more powerful mechanism to load and customised key performance indicators on a 64-bit platform that finally expose strategic performance management to all aspects of Business Intelligence. No longer is Scorecarding a separate application but finally it has come to be a fully integrated aspect of any organisations business intelligence solution.
Performance Modeller Improvements
IBM’s dedication to provide a more human-centric experience can be seen with another glut of changes to performance modeller. For those new to TM1, Performance Modeller is increasing becoming the one-stop-shop for everything to design, develop and implement TM1 cubes.
Some of the changes include:
Cube calculations - A developer can define a calculation that can be scoped across the full dimensionality of a cube. Cube calculations are a way of simplifying the creation of rules to complete common modelling operations, such as managing and maintaining the model. You can add a calculation to make your model meaningful by deriving more information from the data source.
Feeder Optimisation - With IBM Cognos TM1 Performance Modeler, you can now automatically generate a proposed set of feeders for the cubes in the model. The generated feeders can come from manually or automatically generated rules from calculations and links. You can also export a Feeder analysis report to see what feeders are proposed, without actually writing feeders to the model.
Data flow diagrams - A TM1 developer can see a graphical flow diagram that maps the flow of data from cube-to-cube in a model allowing them to more easily visualise the structure of Cognos TM1 cubes and dimensions. You can apply an automatic layout for your model diagram or you can set your own layout. Cubes can be grouped for ease of viewing, and you can open cubes and links from the data flow diagram.
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Cognos Planning Import - for those who needed an improved roadmap to migrate to TM1, IBM has provided a new important feature. The Import Cognos Planning model option helps you build your Cognos Planning model in IBM Cognos TM1 Performance Modeler. The import option uses an .XML application definition file that is generated from your Cognos Planning model. This file is used to get you started with the dimensions, cubes, and links needed to build the model in Cognos TM1 Performance Modeler.
TI Triggers - You can now initiate a Turbo Integrator (TI) process either immediately before or immediately after a workflow action takes place. For example, you can trigger a Turbo Integrator process to do a data validation test before a Commit action. Or you can move data for a specific approval hierarchy node to a different application immediately after a Submit action.
TM1 Web Enhancements
The TM1 Web client has also seen new features and functionality to provide an enhanced user experience. Key features include enhanced conditional formatting and in cell charts, also known as micro-charts or sparklines.
Cognos Analysis for Excel (CAFE)
The friend of business analysts everywhere, CAFÉ, has also had several improvements including improved performance when querying TM1 and greater report layout control through “asymmetrical nesting”. The most important enhancement has been the greater integration between CAFÉ and TM1 which now include the ability for user to read and write-back to TM1 cubes.
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Furthermore for those power users CAFE now allows you to build complex multi-cube reports with a new formula free mode.
When Cognos Insight first came out I, like many other people, saw Cognos Insight as the poorer cousin for Cognos TM1 and Cognos BI. Well not anymore, Cognos Insight is becoming an ever important tool for a variety of functions including dashboarding, prototyping and personal analytics.
The new version of Cognos Insight sees further improvements in printing, report layout, drill throughs, advance charting, budgeting and scorecarding. Cognos Insight is fast becoming the starting point to deliver agile financial performance management across your enterprise.
Business Intelligence Enterprise 10.2.1.1
September sees the release of IBM Cognos BI Enterprise 10.2.1 Fix pack 1 (also called 10.2.1.1). Although you apply this like any other fix pack, there are many new features include:
Extensible Visualisations - You can now make use of the new Rapidly Adaptive Visualisation Engine (RAVE) now in Active Reports (as per 10.2.1) but now also against reports developed in Report Studio and Cognos Workspace. For the first time your web-based Dashboards can include treemaps, heatmaps, and network diagrams.
Embedded Workspace – In applications or portals that are able to display referenced web content, you can embed workspaces. Embedded workspaces can include or omit parts of the IBM Cognos user interface.
IBM Theme Designer – a simple but valuable utility is the new IBM Theme Designer. IBM Cognos Theme Designer provides a graphical user interface that makes it easy to tailor IBM Cognos BI applications to your brand requirements. You can replace images, change colours, or edit html to get the look you want. A great tool which can save an enormous amount of time typically spent playing with XML files.
Report Booklets – By using report booklets, you can reference and merge content from multiple reports. Report booklets are especially convenient if you have a large amount of BI content that you want to reuse and present in new ways. Particularly useful for management reporting and board packs, report booklets can provide a single table of contents, sequential page numbering, and rationalised prompting to prevent redundant data collection. Report booklets can be scheduled, saved, and run in IBM Cognos Connection like other IBM Cognos BI reports.
Performance Improvements – further performance improvements, especially when querying TM1 cubes and running Active and Mobile reports.
Note: if you choose to apply Fix Pack 1 you also must upgrade all Report Specifications to make use of the new features. Click here for more details.
If you would like a demonstration of these new features, or understand how to quickly and easily migrate your content to the latest version, please send us an email today.