Collaborative business intelligence - IBM Cognos

Collaboration plays an important role in decision making and resolving any business issues. Creating reports and dashboards and analyzing data are tasks that are performed by individual users. However, when it comes to making business decisions based on that information, a team of users typically creates reports and dashboards and analyzes data. Users can share a dashboard with other colleagues using various methods:

  • Email a link to the dashboard using the Email Link option on the Actions Menu button. Your email client opens with a message that is populated with the dashboard name in the subject line and the link to the dashboard in the message body.
  • Send a URL in an instant message or put the URL in a document using the Copy Link to Clipboard option on the Actions Menu button.
  • Print individual reports to PDF format using the Print as PDF option on the Actions Menu button of a report widget. This option opens Adobe® Reader with a PDF version of a report with full data and a preview of how that data will print. Note that you cannot print the entire dashboard. To print the entire dashboard, you can use Ctrl+P to use the web browser printing.
  • Export individual reports to any of the following formats:
  • PDF
  • Microsoft Excel 2007
  • Microsoft Excel 2002
  • CSV
  • XML

In addition, you can collaborate with other users while creating reports or monitoring dashboards in IBM Cognos Business Insight. You can achieve collaboration using one of the following methods:

  • Annotations
  • IBM Lotus Connections activities

Create annotations

Comments or annotations allow users to collaborate with other members of the team on the content of an individual report on the dashboard. These comments are visible to other users who view the same report. These users can also add further comments about that report, providing additional information. For example, comments can be a reminder to investigate low sales results in a particular region or an explanation of some anomalies in data, such as low sales figures for a product that was recently released and has been on the market for a few months.

You can comment live reports and saved output versions. When printing a PDF version of a report or exporting a report to PDF or Excel output, the comments are included. You can add comments to the following elements:

  • Reports or reports part
  • Data items in reports and report parts
  • Individual cells in list and crosstab reports

You can add comments by selecting the required report cell or report widget and clicking Comment in the widget toolbar. All users who can access the report can see comments that are added to it.

When adding comments to individual cells be aware of the following rules:

  • The comment belongs to the cell, not to the value.
  • In the example when the report is refreshed with data and cell value changes (perhaps the percentage is significantly lower), the comment on that cell still exists and will is visible.

    Comments on individual cells in report
    Comments on individual cells in report

  • The cell value is added to the comment by default.
  • The value of a cell is added automatically. The original value stays in the comment after the report is refreshed.

  • A comment is specific only to the cell in the current report.
  • If you have another report that has the same cell (in the previous example, the same cell is the Percentage of customers who returned a product with the reason listed as Wrong product shipped), the report does not include the comment added previously. These reports are not linked and do not share the comments.

  • If there are multiple comments for the same cell or report widget, they display in reverse chronological order.
  • For each comment, you can see the user’s name, date, and the time the comment was written.

You can add, edit added comments, or delete comments during the current dashboard session. You cannot edit or delete the comments added by other users.

IBM Lotus Connections activities

One step further from collaborating by using comments is setting up activities in a web-based collaboration tool. IBM Lotus Connections is a collaboration service that allows users to interact in an online location where they can create and share ideas and resources. Users can post messages, share files, link to websites or their dashboards, and create and assign to-do items. Because activities are integrated with IBM Cognos Business Insight, users can use activities for collaborative decision-making in a single place.

For example, users can use activities to post a link to their IBM Cognos Business Insight dashboard so that other users can use it for future analysis or to track and audit decisions and initiatives. Users can include stakeholders or other interested parties involved in the decision-making process.

When you want to collaborate with other members of the team to resolve an issue or to perform an investigation, start a dashboard activity from the application bar to create an IBM Lotus Connections activity that is connected to that particular dashboard. After that, you can work with the activity in IBM Lotus Connections.

Start a dashboard activity in Business Insight

Start a dashboard activity in Business Insight

In IBM Lotus Connections you can complete the following activities:

  • Add members to an activity and change the access to an activity
  • Add entries to an activity, for example additional files or bookmarks
  • Add to-do items and assign them to activity members
  • Add comments
  • Complete to-do items or mark an activity as complete

In IBM Cognos Business Insight, you can view the list of activities that are started for that dashboard. For each activity, the activity title, the name of the user who performed the last update, the date and time of the update, and the activity priority and due date are reported if they are set up. If you expand an activity by clicking More, a summary of the last three updates and the activity goal displays. When clicking an activity or specific entry within it, the activity opens in IBM Lotus Connections.

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