Cognos Analytics 11.1: Overview of Major New Release

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At the beginning of October, 2018, IBM introduced a major new Cognos Analytics release, 11.1. IBM Senior Offerings Manager Michael Peter provided an overview and demos of the new features of this release.

In this on-demand webinar, see how this new release allows you to

  • Prepare: AI-assisted, intuitive way to cleanse and combine all your data sources
  • Analyze: Guided exploration infused with augmented intelligence and machine learning to uncover hidden patterns and insights from your data
  • Deliver: Interactive dashboards, story-telling and pixel-perfect reporting to collaborate and share across organizations of any size


Michael Peter
Sr. Offering Manager – BA Partner Ecosystem
IBM Data Science & Business Analytics

With over 20 years of technical sales experience with Cognos and IBM, Michael has a deep understanding of the BI marketplace. Building on his varied roles as a field seller, competitive analyst, demo designer and new product evangelist he now focuses on strengthening IBM’s partner ecosystem for the entire analytics portfolio.

Questions log

Q: Are the AI features and others available in the Cognos Analytics desktop or cloud version?
A: These new features will be available in both the cloud (SaaS) and on-premise/hosted Cognos Analytics environments. However, the on-premise version is not yet available. It is scheduled for later this quarter.

Q: Is it possible for IT to manage the amount of files/data users can upload to Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, it is easy to define the maximum size per file and the total amount of data per user, group or role.

Q: What is the new tool in Cognos Analytics 11.1 that looks like a compass?
A: It is the new Exploration tool, it did not exist in 11.0.

Q: Did the maximum file size increase for Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, the 500MB limit is only the default value, you can increase this. We’ve uploaded files that are 2GB and greater.

Q: Is Cognos Analytics 11.1 compatible with a Mac?
A: Yes, the tools are available in most browsers, regardless of OS.

Q: Can data sets be used instead of cubes in Cognos Analytics 11.1?  What is IBM’s direction for PowerCubes? If we want to build new ones, which is the best approach or technology to use?
A: IBM is still supporting PowerCubes and Transformer; however, DMR with modern databases has proven to be a very good option for OLAP.  We like data sets when working with a subset of data. You can also use the data modules to define hierarchies using the Navigation Paths feature.

Q: Is Google Chrome fully supported in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, Chrome is fully supported (and recommended).

Q: What’s the direction for Cognos Analytics 11.1 using dashboards/authoring with cubes? Msas/Transformer currently does not work well or at all.
A: OLAP support is on the immediate roadmap for dashboards, though it is not available today.

Q: How does AI in Cognos Analytics 11.1 work to grab what it finds as this did not always work well in previous versions?
A: In previous versions, this was a search feature. With the 11.1 release it will analyze the question being asked and create the content, from data to visualization, to answer that question.

Q: Can we use the Cognos Analytics 11.1 Assistant feature within a pre-made dashboard?
A: Yes, the Assistant is available within dashboarding.

Q: If I have restrictions and ask a question about other data, will the folder security stop me from seeing some data or will all the data appear?
A: Yes, you will only see answers with data you have access to see.

Q: How does Cognos Analytics 11.1 fit into IBM’s long-term support release (LTS)?
A: The upcoming release of 11.0 (Release 13) is the LTS release of Cognos Analytics, which will give users an option to move to 11.1.

Q: Can I import a color palette in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Not yet, but an administrator can create one and share it with all users to make a palette available in reporting/dashboards.

Q: Can we do conditional formatting on colors within a graph in dashboard in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: This is not available today; however, it is a top item on the IBM roadmap for dashboards.

Q: Can Cognos Analytics 11.1 be applied directly on top of an existing installation?
A: Yes 11.1 can be installed over 11.0.

Q: Can we upgrade to 11.1 or is it a brand-new install?
A: You can upgrade to 11.1. No need for a new install.

Q: Will there be a fix pack upgrade from Cognos Analytics 11 to 11.1?
A: Not so much a fix pack, but a new installer can be downloaded which you can install over the existing 11.0.

Q: Can we set the file size limits by role/user or tenant in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, admins can control two things: 1) the max file size of individual data files and 2) the total size of uploaded files per user.

Q: Can multiple reports be changed to interactive mode instead of one at a time in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, via the SDK.

Q: Can we format the size of fonts for the actual labels of x and y axis within the graph in dashboarding in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, you can now control axis labels via font and color.

Q: To use the Exploration feature in Cognos Analytics 11.1 how much modeling is required?
A: This is not a simple question to answer. If you have a lot of disparate data sources, you can create a view or data module to bring them together to Explore. Or if you have all data in a singular table, Explore will work exactly the same.

Q: Will the Exploration feature in Cognos Analytics 11.1 work with PowerCubes as a data source?
A: Not today, OLAP Exploration is on the IBM short-term roadmap.

Q: Are the relative time options editable in Cognos Analytics 11.1? Some of us will have custom calendars in our data.
A: You can import your own calendar, with the caveat that all months must begin on the 1st. Twelve different fiscal calendars are included with the samples.

Q: Most of fiscal calendar has 13 periods, is there a prebuild 13 period calendar in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Twelve sample calendars are included, but  a custom calendar is supported, assuming the day begins on the 1st.

Q: How easy is it to create relative time categories in the Cognos Analytics 11.1 module?
A: Very simple. Add a calendar to the module and align your date using a property called lookup reference and point to that calendar. Then do the same with the measures you want to compare.

Q: Is there a demo showing how to create the relative time periods in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: IBM is constantly adding quick and easy YouTube videos with these types of tips. A full data module workshop will be available on the IBM DTE site very soon.

Q: Is the workaround for using PowerCubes in Cognos Analytics 11.1 as a data source in Exploration to create a data module?
A: Yes, you could create a flat table for Exploration.

Q: How will the Exploration feature in Cognos Analytics 11.1 work on top of a package build on a data warehouse? Will it analyze the complete database or do we need to create a kind of export to be analyzed?
A: No export is required.

Q: Does Cognos Analytics 11.1 support different UI sizes?
A: Yes, you can set relative sizing.

Q: Will dashboards created in earlier Cognos Analytics versions automatically have the AI assistant capabilities or is it only available in 11.1?
A: AI assistant is available when you open a dashboard, upgrade or start new.

Q: There are many different algorithms used in data science, decision trees, k means, least means square, etc. How many are available with Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Cognos Analytics 11.1 will run through ~28 algorithms when it’s building the models. You won’t have the control to specify the ones you want, it takes what it believes is the best fit.

Q: Out of the 28 algorithms, can we manually choose which one we want to use in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: The intent with this feature is to help guide users to the right answer, but certainly not replace a data science tool like Watson Studio, SPSS Modeler, etc. So, IBM does not allow users to specify their own algorithm.

Q: Will the ability to cascade filters in the global filters section of a dashboard be added to Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: IBM has been hearing from customers about the need for cascading prompts, so it’s moving up the priority list on the dashboarding roadmap.

Q: Is SQL Server available for data source in Cognos Analytics 11.1? The IBM site doesn’t list SQL Server in the software product compatibility report.
A: MS SQL Server is supported, IBM still uses Go Sales samples stored there for demos.

Q: Will the measures comparison for prior, current be available with package or is it just available with data modules in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: The simple relative date calcs are for data modules only. They can always be created in Framework Manager though.

Q: Do you have any updates on Framework Manager? Is it going to be replaced by data modules? Is there any way to convert FM model to data module model?
A: FM is not going anywhere, IBM wants to be very clear on that. But IBM is investing in simple, lightweight modeling for users within the browser.

Q: What is the support timeline for Transformer?
A: IBM has no plans to deprecate Transformer at this time.

Q: Is PowerPlay still supported in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes, IBM has no plans to deprecate PowerPlay support. IBM is not investing in adding to it, but it still does everything that users who love it are accustomed to.

Q: Will the assistant support language other than English in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Today just English, but additional languages are on the roadmap.

Q: All demos I see lately use data modules with flat files data sources. Is data warehousing/OLAP a good practice for analytics projects?
A: We think that’s just more of a function of ease when giving a demo, such as this one. Data modules don’t replace a data warehouse or OLAP capabilities.

Q: Are the dashboard portlets and pages added back in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: In a recent release of 11.0 (and indeed 11.1) we can expose 10.x portal pages from upgraded content, but portal pages cannot be created.

Q: Can I edit the heading names for columns or graphs instead of just using the name of the field in a dashboard now in Cognos Analytics 11.1?
A: Yes.

Q: Where can I get the deck for this webinar?
A: On the Senturus website at:

Q: Will a video recording of this be available (not just slide deck)? I’d like to show this to colleagues.
A: Yes, the recording will be available at:

Presentation outline

  • Cognos Analytics 11.1
    • Unearth hidden truths with a personalized analytics experience driven by AI
      • Prepare – AI-assisted, intuitive way to cleanse and combine all your data sources in minutes
      • Analyze – Guided exploration infused with augmented intelligence and machine learning to uncover hidden patterns and insights from your data
      • Deliver – Interactive dashboards, story-telling and pixel-perfect reporting to collaborate and share across organizations of any size
  • Why AI in BI
    • Automate data prep to save time
    • Flatten learning curve to broaden user base
    • Reduce bias to get to the real answers
    • Eureka moments to drive your business forward
  • Answers you can rely on that others can’t find
    • Advanced analytics
      • Identifies interesting insights without you having to know what to look for using advanced pattern detection to reveal relationships that may not be obvious
    • AI assistant
      • Intelligent responses to your questions with natural language dialogue
    • Machine learning
      • Automates the creation of visualizations, suggests the best visualization for your selected data
      • It opens the door for the system to learn based on the user actions and preferences
    • Visualization insights
      • Delivers more accurate results and presents statistical information and insights about the selected visualization in natural language

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