Assistant capabilities

The Assistant is a powerful feature in Cognos Analytics that allows you to ask questions and discover insights in natural language.

You can use the following questions in the Assistant:

  • Show overview

    Type help to display an overview and general usage information.

  • Suggest questions

    Type suggest questions to ask the Assistant to suggest a set of questions that you can ask.

    Suggestions are based on the context of your data source and particular industry. Before requesting suggestions, you must select a data source to set the context.

    You can also type suggest questions for <column name> to receive a set of questions based on the context of one or more columns.

    After a set of questions is suggested by the Assistant, you can click one of the suggestions to ask that question.

  • View data sources

    Type show data to list all of the supported data sources that you have access to in My content and Team content. Supported data sources include:

    • Uploaded files (csv, tsv, xls, xlsx, and zip)
    • Data modules
    • Data set
    • Framework Manager packages
      Note: See Enriching packages in the Managing document.

    When results exceed the number of displayed items, click More to view up to 100 data sources. Scroll to the bottom of the list and click Less to collapse the list.

  • Show data source details

    Type show source <source name> or load source <source name> to display a list of relevant fields and details for your specified data source.

    The toolbar displays the <source name> that is in context. If a context is not set, Cognos Analytics uses the active source in your dashboard or exploration panel as the loaded source.

    When results exceed the number of displayed items, click More to view up to 100 data sources. Scroll to the bottom of the list and click Less to collapse the list.

  • Show column details

    Type show column <column name> to display information and related fields for your specified column.

    If you apply an aggregation or filter to the column, the Assistant returns you a chart or visualization.

  • Show column influencers

    Type what influences column <column-name> to display a list of fields that influences the results in your specified column.

  • Create a chart or visualization

    You can ask the Assistant create a chart or visualization from any number of columns. For example, you can type show chart <column1> and <column2> to display visualizations that show the relationship between <column1> and <column2>.

    You can also ask for filters and aggregations in your charts or visualizations. For more information, see Aggregations and Filtering.

    After the visualizations are created, you can scroll through the visualizations by clicking the left and right arrows. You can also drag the visualization onto your dashboard or exploration. Each visualization includes an information icon in the upper-right corner. Hover over the icon to see descriptions about the underlying data. You can optionally enter more columns, but excessive columns can result in less effective visualizations.

    Click Show related visualizations to return visualizations based on influential and related fields.

    Click Create dashboard from the charts to create a new dashboard based on the most recently generated charts. Typing Create related dashboard produces the same resulting dashboard. If the charts contain top or bottom aggregations, these modifiers are applied to the generated dashboard.

    Note: This capability is unavailable in IBM® Cognos® Analytics for Mobile.

    Filtered visualizations include a filter icon (Visualization filter icon), located in the upper-right corner of the chart. Hover over the icon to display the applied filtering.

  • Create a dashboard

    Type create dashboard to generate a new dashboard based on the currently selected data source.

    Note: This capability is unavailable in IBM Cognos Analytics for Mobile.

    You can also request for columns with aggregations and filters when creating a dashboard. When you request for aggregations or filters, the Assistant applies the aggregation or filter to all of the charts in the dashboard. For example, if you asked for average profit, the aggregation is applied to all of the charts in the created dashboard. If you requested profit by product where budget sales > 500, then all of the charts in the dashboard will be for sales under 500. For more information about aggregations and filters, see Aggregations and Filtering.

    The Assistant also creates an additional 3 tabs in the dashboard if you ask for a top or bottom filter. For example, if you asked for create a dashboard with the top 5 products by profit, your dashboard will contain charts with a top 5 filter applied in addition to 3 tabs, one for each top 3 product.

    You can modify the visualizations, tabs, order, etc. and save your new dashboard. By default, the generated dashboard will include advanced analytics and predictive charts.

  • Create a simple dashboard

    Automatically generating dashboards for larger data sources may result in performance issues. To circumvent this, you can type create a simple dashboard to generate a basic dashboard without predictive charts.

    Note: This capability is unavailable in IBM Cognos Analytics for Mobile.

    After a simple dashboard is created, you can modify the dashboard by replacing charts with more sophisticated visualizations, such as driver analysis or spiral charts.

Tips and best practices

  • Use natural language

    Use natural language for the best results when using the Assistant. Like a real human, the Assistant attempts to understand your questions and queries based on the context of the whole sentence, including grammar, punctuation, and spelling. For example, if you asked your colleague for "can you show me my product profit?", they might not understand if you're asking for 2 separate columns, called product and profit, or if there's a column called product profit. If you asked "can you show me my product and profit", then the question is clearer.

  • Synonymous terms

    The Assistant also understands most synonymous terms and phrases. For example, show Profit is a synonymous term with list Profit, what is Profit?, tell me about Profit, and Profit. Synonymous terms also apply to many filters and aggregations. You can ask for the top 3 products, 3 best products, bottom 4 regions, 4 worst regions, how many products, show product count, etc. You can also choose to spell out words or use symbols when applicable. For example, you can say show me sales greater than one thousand or show me sales > 1K.

  • Load the correct data source

    When you're using the Assistant, the Assistant will identify the best data source for your question or query. After a data source is loaded, the Assistant sets the data source as the context for further questions. If a context is not set, Cognos Analytics uses the active data source in your dashboard or exploration panel as the loaded source.

    If you want to ask the Assistant questions or queries based on the context of a different data source, you can type load source <source name> to load the data source. You can also reset the conversation to load the active data source in your dashboard or exploration.

  • Aggregations

    Applying aggregations can help to add focus and create more compelling visualizations. You can use any aggregations that are supported in Cognos Analytics.

    Common numeric aggregations include:

    • total
    • average
    • maximum
    • minimum
    • count (used with measures)

    For categorical aggregations, you can use:

    • count distinct

    Here are a few aggregation examples:

    • show average <column-name>
      • Displays the average for all values found in <column-name>.
    • how many <column-name>
      • If <column-name> is a category, the number of distinct items is returned. If <column-name> is a measure, the count is returned.
    • show maximum <column-name>
      • Displays the highest value found in <column-name>.
    • show minimum <column-name>
      • Displays the lowest value found in <column-name>.
    • show total <column-name>
      • Displays the sum total for all values found in <column-name>.

  • Filtering

    You can ask the Assistant for expression based filters by using words and associated synonyms. Generally, the Assistant applies filters before any aggregation is applied to the data. The following are examples of filters that you can use:

    • in
    • for
    • with
    • including
    • excluding
    • top percentage
    • bottom percentage
    • greater than
    • less than
    • top (post data aggregation)
    • bottom (post data aggregation)
    • Currently equal and range filters are not supported.
    • If you apply a top or bottom filter to a categorical column, you must supply a measure.
    • top and bottom filters are applied to the data after any data aggregations.
    • Measures support only the greater than and less than type filters.

    You can add filters for categories, including product columns, geographical strings (such as Country or State), and temporal strings (such as Month or Year). Filtering by date is not supported, at this time.

    Here are some examples of how you can use filtering:

    • show the top 3 products by sales
    • show products by sales where inventory > 500

      show products by sales for California

    • show top <num> <column1> by <column2>
      • Displays the top values from <column1> based on the context of <column2>. For example, show top 5 Sales by Region. If <num> is not specified, a default value of 10 is used.
      • <column1> is an aggregated or non-aggregated measure, while <column2> is a categorical column.

  • Combining filters and aggregations

    Aggregations and filters can be combined to produce more granular results. Here are some examples, based on sample data:

    • show Revenue in 2017 and 2018
    • show Income by Month for New York City, San Francisco, and Denver
    • what are the top 5 States by average Inventory, excluding California
    • show the average income, where income is less than 5K

  • Retrieve your previous question

    You can use shift + up arrow to retrieve your last question.