Explore offers a flexible workspace where you can explore data and is new in IBM Cognos Analytics 11.1.0. You can also explore an existing visualization from a dashboard, story or report. Correlated insights are represented by a green icon with a number on either the x-axis or y-axis of a visualization.

Starting an exploration

There are several different ways to get started in Explore.

You can start an exploration from the New menu on the welcome page. The data pane opens so that you can add data.

You can also start a new exploration from an existing visualization in a dashboard or story. Create a new exploration or add to an existing. If you choose to add to an existing exploration, the folder view displays only folders and explorations. Browse to and open the existing exploration you want to work with. The visualization(s) and the data are transferred to the exploration.

A third way to start Explore is from the Action menu icon on a data asset on the welcome page. Click Create exploration to create a new exploration with the data you selected.

Relationship diagram

When you start a new exploration and select a data source, the relationship diagram is the default view.

The field of interest is the focal point and is represented by a blue circle. Related fields are organized into green circles.

The system analyzes the data and identifies interesting items. The relationship diagram plots these fields based on a statistical evaluation of related items. The relationship diagram is not a picture of the data model. However, the model might be an influencing factor in the analysis. To improve performance when there are many rows in the data source, the analysis is based on a representative sample of the entire data.

Lines connect the concepts and represent relationships. The thickness of the line indicates the strength of the relationship.

You can interact with the relationship diagram by selecting one or more fields that you are interested in. As you do, the list of suggested starting points to the left of the diagram updates to include the fields you selected.

Suggested starting points

You can select items in the relationship diagram to generate visualizations to use as starting points. Click a visualization if you want to add it to your exploration and to view it at the same time. Click the plus icon on the starting point visualization to add it to your exploration and maintain the current view.

Navigation panel

You can see the visualizations in your current Exploration in the navigation panel to the left of the main view. To open the navigation panel, click the Explorations icon in the side panel. From the navigation panel, select the visualization that you want to bring into the main view.

Automatically generated insights

The system automatically generates details, recommends related visualizations, and displays badge insights.


Text is generated to describe aspects of the visualized data that is not obvious from looking at the visualization. For example, the details could display an average of the values over time.

Related visualizations

When a visualization is in focus in an exploration, the system recommends related visualizations that are related to what you are currently looking at. Based on the data analysis, these related visualizations might be of interest to you.

Related visualizations replace one of the data elements in the visualization or add another data element to create a new visualization. Related visualizations use a combination of statistics and “interestingness” to suggest useful next steps.

Correlated insights

If one of the data items in a visualization is determined by the system to be a “target”, correlated insights indicate that the system has identified “drivers”. Correlated insights are displayed as green ovals with a number. The number represents the number of drivers or driver combinations that were identified. Click a correlated insight to get additional information on what these drivers are and how they matter.

Driver analysis

Click an item from the correlated insights menu on the visualization to generate a driver analysis.

A driver analysis visualization shows you the key drivers, or predictors, for a target. The closer the driver is to the right, the stronger that driver is.

IBM Cognos Analytics uses sophisticated algorithms to deliver highly interpretable insights that are based on complex modeling. You don't have to know which statistical tests to run on your data. Cognos Analytics picks the right tests for the data.


Create a single blank card or a comparison blank card from the New menu in the toolbar. Click the single blank card to start creating a visualization or click the comparison blank card to create two related visualizations and then automatically compare the data between the two. A summary of key information and differences between the two visualizations is generated.

You can also create a comparison card from existing visualizations by selecting two cards from the navigation panel then using the Action menu to Compare. Or, you can select two data points on an existing visualization and select Compare by from the right-click menu.

Copy and paste

You can copy and paste visualizations from a dashboard, story, or exploration to another dashboard, story, exploration or report. To copy and paste, select a visualization, then use keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V.

In Explore, you can also select the Action menu on a card, select Copy, then open a dashboard and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+V to paste to the dashboard.

Compare by

Compare by is similar to navigating a pre-built navigation path or a hierarchy except that you don’t need anything pre-defined. You can select one or more data points, for example, bars on a bar chart, then right-click and select Compare by. You are prompted for a field name. The result is a new visualization on a new card that replaces the category of the previous chart and is filtered by your selection.


You can type in English text to discover patterns and relationships in your data, as well as generate visualizations that can be added to an existing dashboard or exploration. Enter text related to your analytical intentions and an AI conversational agent will respond with visualizations and other information to satisfy your request.

Open the full assistant panel by clicking the Assistant icon assistant icon. If you're using the compact assistant panel, you can switch to the full panel by clicking Open in full view. The compact panel is available in explorations only.

For usage details, such as supported lexicon, refer to the Assistant documentation in the IBM Cognos Analytics Explorations User Guide.