Real Analytics Implementation with Cognos (supplemented by a few quotes from ‘Lose Yourself’)
MARTIN KEEN 1200007VU3 MKEEN@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  erik_wiedenman business analytics cubes dynamic intelligence
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This post is by Erik Wiedenman, IBM Redbooks Manager
Well, I was sitting there the other day playing with blocks with my grand-nephew and the blocks made me think of Cognos Dynamic Cubes and how critical Cognos dashboards were to our transformation of a poorly coded, legacy metrics setup into a reliable, fast, consistent and flexible analytics environment.
OK, not really on the blocks part, but I’ve heard that blogs work better when they have a personal spin, so it seemed like a good way to start. But really, the part about the transformation is true, and as I drove into work this morning I was thinking about Cognos (while listening to a little Marshall Mathers), because I did get a real, tangible sense of value this week when I read the newly published Redbooks IBM Cognos Dynamic Cubes book.
In a previous job, I was a manager for metrics and analytics implementation. This was a wonderful job with the ability to really improve the business by getting and presenting data in ways that highlighted problems, suggested solutions and aided decision making. And as we got better and more sophisticated, we began to recognize not just problems but opportunities. I loved it.
However, we didn’t start out there. As any of you who’ve worked on metrics know, the path to good analytics is fraught with difficulties. We thought we had a good set of standard metrics, but ‘snap back to reality, oh, there goes gravity’ – everybody liked our metrics, but nobody understood them and they often disbelieved them! How many times did we second guess our data when it didn’t show what we expected or wanted?
“That doesn’t look right to me? When was it loaded? Oh that’s old data from three days ago, this week’s ETL will show that we don’t really have a problem!”
“Can you rerun the reports, there must be something wrong? That’ll give us better results! What, next week?!?”
This was even more true in our case where we started from a legacy system with hard coded metrics (executed by a parade of interns years and years ago), and with data exponentially growing in size and complexity, in multiple unresolved databases or even embedded within the coding. Who even understood the existing reports?!?! We’d lost ourselves.
But ‘this opportunity comes once in a lifetime’. Thanks to significant executive and business owner support, a good plan and a great global team, ‘feet fail me not’, we were able to ‘move toward a new world order’. We got to all our data coming from rationalized databases with real time data flow and – critical factor - globally consistent Cognos management, reporting and dashboard capability. It was quite an exciting journey – and still is. I probably will blog a lot more about what we learned from our experiences, but in the interim here’s a great book that I wish I’d known about before we started: IBM Cognos Business Intelligence V10.1 Handbook. And really, the great part after a transformation like this is to be able to focus on improvements and actions around our real business information, not questions about the data, timing, running, etc.
In fact, I’m so happy with the progress we made, that here I am, in my next job, and I felt compelled to read the latest Cognos book (it’s really quite good) and even to use my time to edit the two Cognos books into additional documents – Solution Guides – which provides a good initial overview targeted to business leaders, management and professionals like myself. It’s worth your time to give them a quick look, because analytics is key to any great business, and in the end, success is our only option.