IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson v12.0: Empowering Users with AI-Powered Insights and Seamless Dashboard Creation

Businesses today rely on sophisticated data analytics tools to extract meaningful insights and gain a competitive edge. When selecting a Business Analytics solution, trust in the provider is paramount. DataSkill wholeheartedly recommends IBM solutions. IBM not only leads the way in analytics, as acknowledged by Forrester Wave: Data Management for Analytics, Q1 2023, but also showcases an unwavering commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.

Nowhere is this dedication more evident than in Cognos Analytics with Watson, IBM’s flagship business intelligence and analytics platform. With each iteration, Cognos Analytics undergoes transformative updates, introducing new capabilities and enhancements to boost performance, productivity, and security. The recent release of version 12.0 is a testament to IBM’s fervent investment in product development, empowering users with cutting-edge tools for data exploration and analysis.

In my pursuit of understanding the latest advancements in data analytics, I had the opportunity to join Timothy Aston and Sami El Cheikh from the IBM Cognos Product Management team. They shared insights into the groundbreaking AI functionality in Cognos Analytics with Watson 12.0. In this blog, we will recap some of the highlights introduced in the 11.2 version and then explore the enhancements to expect from version 12.

Before delving into the details, I wanted to share the team’s vision for this latest iteration of Cognos Analytics with Watson: “Deliver actionable insights to everyone at the speed of business.”

The focus of this latest edition revolves around AI functionality and how AI-driven self-service analytics can provide faster insights and increase productivity. Cognos Analytics with Watson 12.0 aims to go beyond merely answering users’ questions. With the integration of augmented intelligence, the platform’s capabilities extend to answering questions that users might not have even thought to ask. The idea is to provide deeper, more comprehensive insights that enable users to make highly insightful decisions in their day-to-day work.

Additionally, the platform ensures that insights are accessible to users across various organizational levels, from small startups to multinational banks. It caters to both casual users and technical IT personnel, recognizing the diverse needs of individual users while focusing on the requirements of the entire organization. Timothy and Sami also highlighted the importance of delivering insights with speed. Through good design, fast data access, and AI capabilities, intelligent queries ensure that users have the data they need right at their fingertips. This acceleration of decision-making empowers organizations to stay agile and competitive in an ever-changing market.

11.2 Highlights

As we look back at the previous version, Cognos Analytics with Watson 11.2, we find a host of exciting enhancements that have made data analytics even more powerful and user-friendly. Let’s recap the top 10 highlights that have shaped the platform:

  1. Narrative Insights with AI-Powered NLG Rephraser:
    Among the most notable additions was the introduction of narrative insights, driven by AIpowered NLG rephraser. This feature offered a sophisticated interpretation of data, providing insightful narratives directly on dashboards. Users gained a deeper understanding and context, enhancing their decision-making process.
  2. Time Awareness with Relative Time and Operators:
    The AI assistant in Cognos Analytics 11.2 displayed improved time awareness, understanding relative time and operators. This feature facilitated more dynamic and context-aware analyses, making it easier for users to explore data within specific timeframes effectively.
  3. Collaboration Support with Microsoft Teams Integration:
    Building on its collaboration support for Slack, Cognos Analytics extended its capabilities to integrate with Microsoft Teams. This integration empowered teams to seamlessly collaborate on data analysis, share insights, and make collective decisions within their preferred collaboration environment.
  4. New Data Sources:
    Cognos Analytics 11.2 expanded its data source options, integrating with Dremio, Databricks, and IBM Cloud SQL Query. This addition broadened users’ access to diverse data sources, enriching their analyses with more comprehensive and varied datasets.
  5. Mobile App:
    Recognizing the importance of mobile accessibility, Cognos Analytics launched a dedicated mobile app. This mobile solution provided users with on-the-go access to their analytics, enabling them to stay connected and make data-driven decisions wherever they were.
  6. Analytics Content Hub:
    With the Analytics Content Hub, Cognos Analytics aimed to streamline data analysis by bringing all analytical content into one central location. Users could easily organize, share, and access their analyses and dashboards, fostering better collaboration and knowledge sharing across the organization.
  7. Improved Home Page
  8. Full-Screen Content Navigation
  9. Mapping with 3D Maps and Hex Bin Grouping
  10. Multi-directional Cascading Filter

These highlights in Cognos Analytics with Watson 11.2 showcased IBM’s commitment to continuous improvement and innovation, enabling users to derive deeper insights and make data-driven decisions with ease. As we move forward to explore version 12.0, it is exciting to see how IBM’s relentless pursuit of excellence drives even more transformative advancements in data analytics.

Version 12.0

In the latest iteration, Cognos Analytics with Watson 12.0, IBM continues to demonstrate its commitment to innovation and user empowerment. Let’s explore the exciting enhancements and features that make version 12.0 a powerful tool for data analytics and decision-making:

AI-Powered Self-Service and Natural Language Interface
The new version brings AI-powered self-service capabilities, featuring a natural language interface for automated insights, dashboards, and easy sharing. This empowers users with diverse skill sets to get the answers they need effortlessly. The enhanced Cognos Assistant, now front and center, offers a full-screen and sidebar experience, providing guidance throughout the data exploration and dashboard creation process. The step-by-step wizards offer guidance throughout the process, making it accessible to all users.
Simplified Dashboard Creation
Creating a dashboard has never been easier. The assistant understands location, time, and user inputs, allowing users to create dashboards directly from charts or even from a question. At this point Timothy demonstrated how the system allows users to create dashboards directly from questions, prepopulating them with multiple tabs and relevant visualizations based on the data and related fields. This empowers both seasoned professionals and first-time Cognos users to utilize selfservice features effectively and share valuable content with their teams.
Changes to home pages
Cognos Analytics 12.0 enhances the home page, providing users with a more straightforward path to valuable insights. The addition of a “Get started” button offers access to learning resources and videos, enabling users to get the most out of their data exploration. Two new tiles offer simple starting points: “Upload data and start creating content” or “Create content from existing data.” Once data is uploaded, recommended actions further guide users, suggesting either starting with a dashboard or the Cognos assistant.
Performance and Scalability Improvements
Version 12.0 significantly improves performance and scalability with minimal data load and cache times. The platform auto-generates local data caches for relational data, enhancing overall dashboard performance. For end users, this translates to a lightning-fast dashboard experience. Additionally, power users have the flexibility to view and edit data caches, optimizing performance further.
AI-Enhanced Forecasting
The updated forecasting capabilities receive an AI boost, allowing users to generate forecasts with a simple click on line or bar charts for time-based data. The new multiple variable forecasts feature enables users to explore real-world contexts and observe the forecast’s impact on different data sets. Transparency is enhanced, providing insights into the model used, building trust in the forecast’s accuracy.
Nested Dashboard Widgets
To address the challenge of limited dashboard space, version 12.0 introduces nested dashboard widgets. Users can now embed a dashboard within a widget, maintaining interactivity across multiple tabs. This feature allows the simultaneous display of the same data in different visualizations, such as charts and tables.
Enhanced Maps
The mapping feature is enriched with different world views and customization options for labels. Users can now label with item and value, and even add icons, offering a more informative and visually appealing display.

With these remarkable enhancements, Cognos Analytics with Watson 12.0 empowers users to unlock the full potential of their data. The platform’s AI capabilities, streamlined dashboard creation, improved performance, and insightful forecasting provide organizations with the tools they need to make informed decisions with confidence. As IBM continues to lead the way in analytics, version 12.0 is a testament to their relentless pursuit of excellence and commitment to delivering actionable insights to everyone at the speed of business.