Sunday, 11 May 2014

Advanced visualization capabilities in IBM Cognos BI: Why? What? How to?

Why Visualization Matters in Analytics World?

The world produces more than 2.5 exabytes of data every day. Visualization is one key approach to gaining insight from this mountain of data. It enables you to see the trends and patterns (along with gaps and outliers) in the data that are not as easily identified in rows and columns of numbers.

Visualization can also provide access to huge data sets, such as weather, web traffic, sales and voting records. Data sets of this size have the potential to be overwhelming and inaccessible; a good visualization provides a way to explore, understand and communicate the data, along with actions the data indicate should be taken. For example, there are visualizations that show past prices for airline tickets and prices for future travel dates. From this sort of visualization, you can see whether ticket prices are trending upwards or downwards and you have guidance when considering tickets for different possible travel dates. A list of ticket prices wouldn’t be nearly as compelling or useful as showing the price variations with graphs.

The most successful visualizations have a few things in common. They have a clear purpose; they include only relevant, focused content; and they present the content in a manner that reveals and highlights the interesting relationships in the data.

Extensible visualization capabilities in IBM Cognos BI

New, extensible visualization capabilities built into IBM Cognos Business Intelligence V10.2.1.1 solutions unleash report authors and business users from a static library of charts. No longer are users locked into only the in-product visualization options. Now you can easily augment your reports—both general and active reports—with a growing collection of visualizations to meet your data and insight requirements.

With the new IBM Cognos Visualization Customizer, visualizations can be edited, including changing fonts, colors, or even icons to meet the most specific requirements.
Through the new Visualization Marketplace on IBM Analytics Zone, report authors can choose from over 30 visualization options, ranging from radar charts to heat maps and area charts. New visualization options will be regularly added to the Marketplace. You’ll always find just the right visualization just a simple download away.

Step-by-step process to extend Cognos BI visualization features -  

First of all please make sure you have Cognos BI server installed. If you have 10.2.1 then download and install fixpack from IBM support site

Now download all visualizations (vis.sample.all_10_2_1_1 .zip) along with documentations from AnalyticsZone site using below link. To do so you must be a member. If you are not then register yourself, its easy :).

The next step is to import these visualizations into Cognos library before we use them thru report studio.
1) Unzip vis.sample.all_10_2_1_1 .zip into a folder. You’ll get 30 zip files for 30 visualizations.
2) Open “IBM Cognos Administration” in browser and go to “Library” tab.
3) In left side panel you can see “Visualizations” item. On right side, click on “Import Visualizations” button as shown in below snapshot.

4) It’ll open a window where you can import all 30 or some visualization files one-by-one.

5) On successful import you can see all imported files. 

6) Now open Report Studio with any package. From toolbar you should drag “Visualization” tool in report area. Here you can see all 30 visualizations and select any one of your choice. Align data items and run the report. You can also use them in your active reports.