IBM Cognos Proven Practices: IBM Cognos Insight – Overview and Use Case

Nature of Document: Guideline; Product(s): IBM Cognos Insight; Area of Interest: Financial Management

This document will demonstrate the power and flexibility of IBM Cognos Insight by giving an overview of how the desktop tool can be used as a stand alone application as well as an integrated piece of IBM Cognos TM1 and Business Intelligence. A sales plan use case will also be demonstrated to show how IBM Cognos Insight is used in the creation, publishing, and contribution of a plan to the distribution of professional reports detailing the results of the plan. This use case will illustrate the life-cycle of a collaborative effort to budget and report for one year of the business.

Pavan Onkar, Quality Test Engineer, IBM

Pavan Onkar is a Quality Test Engineer for IBM Business Analytics and has worked in this capacity for the last 4 years. In his role, he tests Financial Performance Management products such as IBM TM1 and IBM Cognos Insight. Currently, Pavan is part of the IBM Cognos Insight Product Life cycle tests, testing for quality and contributing to the test plan.



28 February 2013 (First published 23 August 2012)

Also available in Chinese Russian Portuguese

Introduction

Purpose

This document will demonstrate the power and flexibility of IBM Cognos Insight by giving an overview of how the desktop tool can be used as a stand alone application as well as an integrated piece of IBM Cognos TM1 and Business Intelligence. A sales plan use case will also be demonstrated to show how IBM Cognos Insight is used in the creation, publishing, and contribution of a plan to the distribution of professional reports detailing the results of the plan. This use case will illustrate the life-cycle of a collaborative effort to budget and report for one year of the business.

Applicability

This document was tested using IBM Cognos Insight v10.1.1, IBM Cognos TM1 v10.1, and IBM Cognos BI v10.1.1.

Assumptions

This document assumes knowledge of IBM Cognos TM1 Applications and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence.

Exclusions and Exceptions

This document will not go into details for each item discussed or provide step-by-step instructions. It is intended to give you a high level understanding of how IBM Cognos Insight works and can be used. For more details, refer to the IBM Cognos Insight documentation or visit the IBM Cognos Insight Community here.


Overview of IBM Cognos Insight

IBM Cognos Insight is a powerful desktop tool allowing users to quickly import, analyze, and share personal and corporate data. Not only can it be used to analyze and create “what if” scenarios by trying out different arrangements of your data, it can also be used to contribute to IBM Cognos TM1 applications as well as create and publish plans, forecasts, and budgets to an IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal.

Let's take a look at how IBM Cognos Insight works and the different ways in which it can be used.

Installation

IBM Cognos Insight can be installed by two methods, stand-alone install and provisioned install. Stand-alone uses a standard installer application to install the program on your machine. The provisioned version is obtained through either the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications or IBM Cognos BI portals. When you open IBM Cognos Insight from these portals, a check is done to see if the application is already installed and if so, is up-to-date. If either is not true, the application is installed to your machine. Upon subsequent launches of the program from the portals, the application is simply opened on your local machine.

Import Data

IBM Cognos Insight allows you to import and analyze data from a variety of sources which include:

  • CSV files
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
  • ODBC data sources
  • IBM Cognos BI Reports
  • IBM Cognos TM1 Cube Views
  • IBM Cognos TM1 Dimension Subsets

Note: To import from an IBM Cognos TM1 Cube View or Dimension Subset, you must connect to an IBM Cognos TM1 Application server as seen with the Connect to IBM Cognos TM1... menu item in Illustration 1. The IBM Cognos TM1 Application server you connect to is defined in My Preferences and you must have administrative rights to connect to the server.

Illustration 1: IBM Cognos Insight - Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 menu item
Illustration 1: IBM Cognos Insight - Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 menu item

You can choose to import data using one of the Quick Import..., Import Data..., or Import Dimensions... selections as seen in the Get Data menu in Illustration 2.

Illustration 2: IBM Cognos Insight – Get Data menu items
Illustration 2: IBM Cognos Insight – Get Data menu items

Quick Import

Quick Import allows you to quickly import a file that follows a specific format where the dimensional columns come first (text or date based items) followed by the measure columns. Once the data is imported, a default workspace is created and is ready for immediate analysis.

Import Data

The Import Data option allows you to import from any of the supported data sources and add structure, such as creating levels in a hierarchy for a dimension, and calculations to your data. This is typically done for more advanced analysis where you would like to drill up and down through hierarchies in your data and see how the measures roll up at different levels.

Import Dimensions

This option is similar to Import Data, except you do not import any measures. This is useful if you have dimensional data such as geographic information or time data that you would like to use as the foundation of a plan, budget, or forecast application that people will contribute to.

Once you have selected your desired import source, the data is imported into IBM Cognos Insight and structure is added if required. When the import is complete, you can begin to create workspaces to visualize and analyze the data as seen in Illustration 3.

Illustration 3: IBM Cognos Insight workspace displaying two explore points for filtering (Time and Product), a crosstab, and a chart
Illustration 3: IBM Cognos Insight workspace displaying two explore points for filtering (Time and Product), a crosstab, and a chart

The imported data is stored and served to the IBM Cognos Insight UI using a local IBM Cognos TM1 cube and server. When a workspace is saved, it is saved as a .CDD file. This file is a compressed file which contains the TM1 cube data and information about the workspace layout.

When a .CDD file is opened by IBM Cognos Insight, the TM1 cube data is extracted to a temporary directory and served up by a local TM1 server. The workspace information is used to display the workspace as it was last saved. As data is changed in the UI, the TM1 cube is updated. When the workspace is closed, the temporary cube is deleted after the .CDD file is updated. This work flow is shown in Illustration 4.

Illustration 4: Work flow for opening a .CDD file and working with the data
Illustration 4: Work flow for opening a .CDD file and working with the data

The .CDD file can be password protected using the Protect Workspace feature under the Actions menu.

Share .CDD Files

Once you have created a workspace, you have a few options to share your work with others. You can simply share your .CDD file by normal conventions such as email, placing it on a LAN, etc., or share it through IBM Cognos BI by selecting the Share... item from the IBM Cognos Insight menu as seen in Illustration 5.

Illustration 5: IBM Cognos Insight menu highlighting the Share... option
Illustration 5: IBM Cognos Insight menu highlighting the Share... option

To share your .CDD file by this method, you must specify a valid IBM Cognos BI URL under My Preferences... and then during the Share wizard, select the desired IBM Cognos BI server and provide log in credentials as shown in Illustration 6. You must have the appropriate permissions to share the .CDD file in IBM Cognos BI.

Illustration 6: Share wizard with IBM Cognos system URL, log in options, and Workspace document name
Illustration 6: Share wizard with IBM Cognos system URL, log in options, and Workspace document name

The IBM Cognos system URL uses the following convention:

http://<server name>/<IBM Cognos BI server Web alias>/cgi-bin/cognos.cgi

if using the CGI gateway or

http://<server name>/<IBM Cognos BI server Web alias>/cgi-bin/cognosisapi.dll

if using ISAPI.

Once the Share wizard is finished, your .CDD is stored in the IBM Cognos BI Content Store and will appear in IBM Cognos Connection as shown in Illustration 7.

Illustration 7: .CDD file available in IBM Cognos Connection
Illustration 7: .CDD file available in IBM Cognos Connection

Others can now click on the link which will launch their own desktop version of IBM Cognos Insight and download and open the file locally. They can choose to save the .CDD file to their local machines if they wish.

Publish and Work with IBM Cognos Insight Workspaces

From the IBM Cognos Insight menu, you can choose to publish your workspace by selecting the Publish... item. You are presented with two options, Publish or Publish & Distribute as seen in Illustration 8.

Illustration 8: Publish wizard showing two publish options, Publish and Publish & Distribute
Illustration 8: Publish wizard showing two publish options, Publish and Publish & Distribute

Publish

Publish allows you to publish your workspace as a TM1 application to an IBM Cognos TM1 Application portal. This process requires administrative privileges and is typically done by an administrator to whom you provide your .CDD file. A TM1 server for your application is created and colleagues with permission can access and change the data. Typically, you would publish an application for planning, forecasting, or budgeting. There are different application types for TM1. They are:

  • Responsibility
    The responsibility application type is based on a reporting structure, such as the structure of your business, department, or enterprise. Changes can be made without having to be submitted and approved. The responsibility application type is used for rolling forecasts or continuous planning processes where there is no defined end date. These application types are considered locked workspaces when opened with IBM Cognos Insight by end users, where they can navigate and filter information if those controls have been made available, but the layout and design cannot be altered. The workspace is intended for data entry or review, not authoring new content.
  • Central
    The central application type is used by a small group of users who equally share the task of performing central planning or analysis. Taking ownership is an option, not enforced as in the other application types. Changes cannot be locked. In the 10.1 and 10.1.1 release of Cognos Insight, the Central application type cannot be consumed using IBM Cognos Insight in Distributed mode for Offline usage. These application types can be opened using IBM Cognos Insight through the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal and all users with access can author workspaces based on the data in the application.
  • Approval
    The approval application type is based on a reporting structure, such as the approval or reporting structure of your business, department, or enterprise. After a change has been submitted, the application is locked for any new changes unless the approving person has rejected the change. These application types are developed with IBM Cognos Performance Modeler and are considered locked workspaces when opened with IBM Cognos Insight by end users, where they can navigate and filter information if those controls have been made available, but the layout and design cannot be altered. The workspace is intended for data entry or review, not authoring new content.

Applications that are created in IBM Cognos Insight can be either a responsibility application type or a central application type. You cannot create an approval application type in IBM Cognos Insight but as an administrator, you can use IBM Cognos Insight to enhance one that was created in IBM Cognos TM1 Performance Modeler. Standard approaches to improving the application include administrators designing the end user experience within IBM Cognos Insight, adding asymmetric views, Action buttons to execute processes, plan guidance in the form of rich text, PDF's, images, etc., and then republishing to update the default layout with the new one. To do so Administrators use the Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 option under the Actions menu.

When publishing, a dimension that will be used to control access to the application can be specified as seen in Illustration 9, which creates a Responsibility application type.

Illustration 9: Publish wizard with the Use a dimension to control access to data: option selected and a dimension called Geo selected
Illustration 9: Publish wizard with the Use a dimension to control access to data: option selected and a dimension called Geo selected

If a dimension is not used to control access to data, then the application type that is created is a Central application type.

An IBM Cognos TM1 system URL that has been defined in My Preferences and log in credentials must be provided and, again, administrative rights are required in order to publish the application.

The IBM Cognos TM1 system URL uses the following convention:

http://<server name>:<port>/pmpsvc/services.

Once published, the application is available in the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal as seen in Illustration 10.

Illustration 10: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal showing an IBM Cognos Insight published application named Sales Plan
Illustration 10: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal showing an IBM Cognos Insight published application named Sales Plan

The architecture for an IBM Cognos Insight published application is shown in Illustration 11. When the IBM Cognos Insight workspace is published to the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, a new TM1 Server is created for the cube (in this example the Sales Plan cube) and registered with the TM1 Administration server. Permissions can then be applied by an administrator to the application and opened and edited by others using IBM Cognos Insight.

Illustration 11: Architecture of an IBM Cognos Insight published application
Illustration 11: Architecture of an IBM Cognos Insight published application

Contribute to an Application using IBM Cognos Insight

Although you can password protect your .CDD files, once they are published as an application to an IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, applying security to the application and various nodes within the application is done by an administrator.

If you had an application published without a dimension selected to control access to data, then users with access to the application can simply open the application with IBM Cognos Insight, take ownership, contribute/edit content, and then commit the changes as well as author new content that can be saved locally as a .CDD file.

If the application was published with a dimension selected to control access to the data, then others can open, take ownership, and commit changes to any portion of the application they have been granted access to by an administrator, but again, they cannot author new content. They can open their portion of the application in IBM Cognos Insight in Connected mode, or, if at the leaf level of the access control dimension, in Distributed mode as seen in Illustration 12.

Illustration 12: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal showing access control dimension and option to open IBM Cognos Insight in Connected or Distributed mode
Illustration 12: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal showing access control dimension and option to open IBM Cognos Insight in Connected or Distributed mode

Connected mode

Connected mode allows users to work with the data on the IBM Cognos TM1 server. IBM Cognos Insight is simply a contributor front end and all data processing is done by the IBM Cognos TM1 server. Connected mode is appropriate when there is a large volume of data with small amounts of data being updated frequently.

Distributed mode

Distributed mode downloads the selected portion of the TM1 application to the IBM Cognos Insight client machine to allow processing to be done locally. When you are finished, you commit your changes to the IBM Cognos TM1 server. This method works well when there is a large number of users all contributing to different parts of the plan. This method off-loads processing from the server to the users' machines.

Publish & Distribute

The Publish portion of Publish & Distribute works the same as the Publish method described earlier. When the IBM Cognos Insight workspace is published to the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, a new TM1 Server is created and registered with the TM1 Administration server. This new TM1 server will act as a data source for IBM Cognos BI. The Distribute portion of Publish & Distribute makes your workspace content available in IBM Cognos BI as reports. A data source connection to the TM1 server is created (in this example the Sales Plan cube), a package is created, and reports based on items in your workspace are created and made available in the package. This process also requires administrative privileges and is typically done by an administrator. The architecture for this process is shown in Illustration 13.

Illustration 13: Architecture of an IBM Cognos Insight published and distributed workspace
Illustration 13: Architecture of an IBM Cognos Insight published and distributed workspace

Note: With either Publish or Publish & Distribute, if an application was previously published to the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, it will not be updated on subsequent publishes because the cube and application already exist. If you intend to have an application published to which people will contribute to and then later wish to Publish & Distribute the results of that application, you can connect to the IBM Cognos TM1 Server first, edit or build a workspace, and then have an administrator perform a Publish & Distribute of the workspace to IBM Cognos BI. The TM1 application and cube will not be published but rather updated based on any changes you made in IBM Cognos Insight. You will need to save a new .CDD file for this connected workspace before it can be published. Each time you open the new .CDD file, you will be prompted to connect to the IBM Cognos TM1 server.


IBM Cognos Insight Use Case for a Sales Plan

Company X requires the sales staff to continuously plan for their sales business. The Sales Director decides to use IBM Cognos Insight to create an IBM Cognos TM1 responsibility application that sales staff can contribute to and edit throughout the year. This plan consists of Travel, Advertising, and Salary costs for the year 2013 and is broken down by Quarters and Months as well as geographic location as seen in Illustration 14. Since the application has not been published yet and no contributions have been made, the measure values are blank.

Illustration 14: IBM Cognos Insight workspace of a cube with a Time dimension, a Geo dimension, and blank values for the Travel, Advertising, and Salary measures
Illustration 14: IBM Cognos Insight workspace of a cube with a Time dimension, a Geo dimension, and blank values for the Travel, Advertising, and Salary measures

The Sales Director then sends her .CDD file to the administrator who publishes the application to the IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal using the Geo dimension as the dimension to control access to the application. The administrator applies access permissions by managing the rights to the different geographic portions of the application before staff begin contributing to the plan.

Contributors of the application then use IBM Cognos Insight to connect to the application by opening their portion of the plan through the IBM TM1 Applications portal and making their contribution. One example is a sales manager from Boston who uses Connected mode, as seen in Illustration 15, to contribute to his portion of the plan. In his case, Connected mode works well due to the size of the application, a low amount of users, and the speed of his network connection. Other contributors with slower LAN connections may opt for Distributed mode.

Illustration 15: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications Portal – Boston sales manager opening Boston portion of a sales plan in Connected mode
Illustration 15: IBM Cognos TM1 Applications Portal – Boston sales manager opening Boston portion of a sales plan in Connected mode

The Boston sales manager must take ownership of this portion of the plan to gain the ability to enter cell values. To do this, he clicks on the Take Ownership button on the tool bar as seen in Illustration 16.

Illustration 16: IBM Cognos Insight – Take Ownership button
Illustration 16: IBM Cognos Insight – Take Ownership button

The sales manager contributes the values he estimates for the plan and then clicks on the Commit Changes button on the tool bar as seen in Illustration 17.

Illustration 17: IBM Cognos Insight – Commit Changes button
Illustration 17: IBM Cognos Insight – Commit Changes button

Note: If this was an approval application designed in Performance Modeler, then the Submit, Submit Children, and Reject buttons would also be available depending on the context in which the data is being viewed, as a contributor or a reviewer. Since this is a responsibility application type, only the Take Ownership and Commit Changes buttons are available.

The Boston sales manager, satisfied with his contribution, closes IBM Cognos Insight. Others contribute to the plan as well.

Once the Sales Director feels there is enough data to report on, she decides she would like to Publish & Distribute the application so that reports on the plan can be viewed by a larger audience in IBM Cognos Connection.

The Sales Director asks the administrator to connect to the Sales Plan application using the Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 option under the Actions menu in IBM Cognos Insight as seen in Illustrations 18, 19, and 20.

Illustration 18: IBM Cognos Insight – Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 option under the Actions menu
Illustration 18: IBM Cognos Insight – Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 option under the Actions menu
Illustration 19: Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 wizard – Select System dialog allowing user to select a defined TM1 server and enter log in credentials
Illustration 19: Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 wizard – Select System dialog allowing user to select a defined TM1 server and enter log in credentials
Illustration 20: Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 wizard – Select a Planning Server dialog allowing user to select desired Planning Server and Planning Application, in this case Sales Plan
Illustration 20: Connect to IBM Cognos TM1 wizard – Select a Planning Server dialog allowing user to select desired Planning Server and Planning Application, in this case Sales Plan

IBM Cognos Insight then connects to and displays the Sales Plan workspace in read-only mode as seen in Illustration 21.

Illustration 21: IBM Cognos Insight – Sales Plan workspace with values, displayed in a crosstab, contributed from various sales managers from different regions
Illustration 21: IBM Cognos Insight – Sales Plan workspace with values, displayed in a crosstab, contributed from various sales managers from different regions

The administrator creates a new tab in the workspace called BI Reporting Tab and adds several different views of the data (see Illustration 22), and then saves this version of the workspace as Sales Plan for BI Reporting.cdd.

Illustration 22: IBM Cognos Insight – New workspace tab displaying a bar chart for the plan's totals and pie charts for the Salary, Advertising, and Travel measures
Illustration 22: IBM Cognos Insight – New workspace tab displaying a bar chart for the plan's totals and pie charts for the Salary, Advertising, and Travel measures

Note: If there is a continuing need to add to or update the application, it is best to maintain one tab in the workspace with a crosstab for data input/editing by contributors and create other tabs for different views of the data to be used in IBM Cognos BI. The administrator can then just select the required views of the data for the reports you would like published while maintaining a common data entry view for contributors.

The administrator then selects to Publish & Distribute the application using the Publish wizard from the Actions menu. During the wizard, he selects the reports the Sales Director would like to publish to IBM Cognos BI as seen in Illustration 23.

Illustration 23: IBM Cognos Insight – Publish wizard showing four reports selected from the BI Reporting Tab
Illustration 23: IBM Cognos Insight – Publish wizard showing four reports selected from the BI Reporting Tab

This procedure will update the Sales Plan application in the IBM Cognos TM1 Application portal, create a data source connection in IBM Cognos BI to the Sales Plan TM1 server, and create a Sales Plan package and reports as seen in the Publish wizard Review Summary dialog in Illustration 24.

Illustration 24: IBM Cognos Insight – Publish wizard showing summary of publish settings and items that will be updated or created
Illustration 24: IBM Cognos Insight – Publish wizard showing summary of publish settings and items that will be updated or created

Upon subsequent publishes, existing items will simply be updated.

After the publish is complete, users now have access to the Sales Plan reports in IBM Cognos Connection as seen in Illustrations 25 (IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan package just published), 26 (IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan reports in the Sales Plan package), and 27 (IBM Cognos Viewer showing the new Sales Plan – Total by City report just published).

Illustration 25: IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan package just published
Illustration 25: IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan package just published
Illustration 26: IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan reports in the Sales Plan package
Illustration 26: IBM Cognos Connection showing the new Sales Plan reports in the Sales Plan package
Illustration 27: IBM Cognos Viewer showing the new Sales Plan – Total by City report just published
Illustration 27: IBM Cognos Viewer showing the new Sales Plan – Total by City report just published

In this case, with little IT intervention, the Sales Director was able to use IBM Cognos Insight to create a Sales Plan application, have it published to IBM Cognos TM1 Applications portal, allow others to contribute to the plan, and then share the progress and results of the plan with a wider audience by having IBM Cognos Insight reports published to IBM Cognos BI.

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