Interaction with the dashboard components - IBM Cognos

Dashboards created with IBM Cognos Business Insight allow business users an integrated business intelligence experience together with collaborative decision making. Users can complete a wide variety of tasks quickly and easily. For example, you can view and interact with reports, sort data or perform additional calculations, or share information with the other members of the team. Users have different needs for reports and data, so they can make use of the free-form layout and can rearrange reports or add new reports.

Personalize content

When launching IBM Cognos Business Insight, you can choose whether to open an existing dashboard or create a dashboard. Regardless of your selection, in the workspace that opens (either an empty dashboard or a dashboard that contains widgets), you can add and rearrange new widgets. All dashboards are editable. Thus, if business users have permission to access a particular dashboard, they can also change it.

Advanced business users or report authors can create reports and basic dashboards for a group of business users to include all information that is necessary for that group of users to work. Then, business users can personalize the dashboards to fit specific needs. These needs might include rearranging the layout, changing a pie chart to a bar chart, sortingdata easily to see how measures are ranked from highest to lowest values, and searching for an additional report and adding it to a workspace.

We demonstrate the unified business experience that IBM Cognos Business Insight provides to using the fictional Great Outdoors (GO) company scenario that we introduced in, “Business scenario and personas used in this.

Our goal is to create a dashboard for Great Outdoors company executives and business users that combines all the relevant information that is needed to gain better insight into business performance of the company. The dashboard must include data about sales performance as well as product returns, sales forecasting, marketing data, and external data.

In this scenario, Lynn Cope is an Advanced Business User in the Great Outdoors company. Her role is to enable senior management to have access to all relevant information in a dashboard. She uses the IBM Cognos Business Insight interface to create and change dashboards, including data that is relevant for the users, but is missing in the current version of a dashboard. Later, she interacts with the reports, creates additional calculations, and adds filters to allow users to narrow the scope of data. She begins by opening the current version of the GO Sales Dashboard, making some changes on the layout, and removing reports that are redundant.

To begin this scenario:

  1. Open the IBM Cognos Connection using the URL:
  2. On the My Actions pane click Create my dashboards to open a Getting Started Page of IBM Cognos Business Insight.
  3. On this page, you can create a new existing dashboard. Open an existing dashboard to change it by clicking Open Existing and navigating to the folder where you imported the deployment archive that is provided in the additional material that is supplied with this book. Open the Business Insight folder, and click GO Sales Initial Dashboard.

    Getting Started Page: Open an existing dashboard
    Getting Started Page: Open an existing dashboard

    • Click Open. The GO Sales Initial Dashboard opens.

    xGO Sales Initial Dashboard opens in Business Insight
    xGO Sales Initial Dashboard opens in Business Insight

    • To better understand the information shown in each report, turn on the titles on the widgets. You usually want titles hidden so they do not take much space on a dashboard.

      To show titles:

      a. On the Application bar, click Layout and Style, and then click Edit Dashboard Style.
      b. In the Edit Dashboard Style window, click Show Titles

      Turning on the titles
      Turning on the titles

    • By taking a closer look at data in a report, you can rearrange the layout of a dashboard. Change the places of the Gross profit by Region and RevenuePlanned versus Actual widgets. To move a widget, select it. Then, while hovering over the Application bar, you should see the cursor in a shape. Right-click, and drag the widget to another location on the dashboard. Dotted guidelines display on the dashboard when you insert, move, or resize widgets. These lines provide a visual aid to assist you in aligning widgets.

    Moving a widget
    Moving a widget

    • Rearrange the widgets so that they do not overlap.
    • Notice that you have reports that show almost the same data and that you need space on the dashboard for additional reports. To make room for additional reports, remove the Return Quantity by Products and OrderMethods report. Click the widget, click Widgets Action, and then click Remove from Dashboard. When prompted, click Remove,

    Deleting a widget
    Deleting a widget

    • Next, change the display type for the Return Quantity by Product Lines report. Using a column chart instead of a pie chart makes it easier to compare values for different product lines. Right-click the widget, and select Change DisplayType Column Chart,

    Changing the display type
    Changing the display type

    • Turn off the widget titles in the same way as described in Step 4. Clear the “Show titles” option.

    Modified dashboard
    Modified dashboard

Add new content to broaden the scope

You can add new widgets to a dashboard by dragging them from the Content or Toolbox tabs. Using the same method, you can add reports, report parts, metric lists or individual metrics, TM1 objects, or in fact, any object described in, “Widgets”

You can use the IBM Cognos Business Insight enhanced search feature to find and add relevant content to the dashboard. This feature is a full-text search similar to popular search engines.

When using the search capability, keep in mind the following rules:

  • Search results include only the entries for which you have permission to access at the time of the last index update.
  • Searcheslook for matching prompts, titles, headings, column names, row names, and other key fields.
  • Searches are not case-sensitive. For example, searching for report and Report returns the same result.
  • Searches include word variations automatically. For example, if you enter camp, results also include camps and camping.
  • When using more than one word in a search, the result includes entries that contain all of the search keywords and entries that contain only one of the search keywords. To modify this type of search, use the following operators as you use them in other search engines:
  • A plus sign(+)
  • A minus sign(-)
  • Double quotation marks (“ ”)
  • If a search term matches a specific item on a dashboard, the dashboard is included in the search results, but the individual item is not included. When the search is complete, the results are ranked according to the search term match relevance,
  • Result of the search in IBM Cognos Business Insight
    Result of the search in IBM Cognos Business Insight

Result:Shows only report parts or hides report parts Type:The type of IBM Cognos object, such as dashboards, reports, or queries Part:The type of report part, such as crosstab, list, or pie chart Date:The year of creation Owner:The owner of the object

Metadata:The metadata or packages that were used for to create this object

Refine search option
Refine search option

Now, back to our scenario. Lynn Cope made changes to a dashboard, and it now looks as She wants to add a report that contains marketing data for the Great Outdoors company promotions, including gross profit information.

To add this report:

  1. Locate the Search window in the upper-right corner of the IBM Cognos Business Insight user interface, type promotion revenue, and press Enter.
  2. Refine the search by clicking Refine Search,
  3. Search for objects containing “promotion revenue”

  4. A window opens next to the search results. Go to the Metadata section, and click GO Data Warehouse (query) to narrow the result set.
  5. Among the search results, locate a Promotion Data (Revenue vs Gross Profit) report, and drag it onto a dashboard.
  6. To close a search and return to the standard Content view, click Search Results for “promotion revenue” All Content
  7. Closing a search
    Closing a search

  8. To change the color palette of the report, click Change color palette Jazz on the widget toolbar,
  9. Changing the color palette of the widget
    Changing the color palette of the widget

    The dashboard now looks as shown in Figure.

    Modified dashboard
    Modified dashboard

Sort and filter data and perform calculations

Apart from changes in the visual display of data in reports, you can interact with report widgets and apply custom sorting. In addition, you can add basic calculations using data in the report, and you can filter data.

Sorting data

Sorting organizes data in either ascending or descending order, based on an alphabetical or numeric value. Sorting is useful when you want to see, for example, the ranking. You can sort on a column that lists revenue in descending order to view revenue data from the highest to the lowest.

In IBM Cognos Business Insight, you can sort lists, crosstabs, and charts.

When sorting data, consider the following rules:

  • For crosstab reports with sorting applied in IBM Cognos Report Studio, IBM Cognos Business Insight Advanced, or IBM Cognos Query Studio, the sorted information displays in the information bar in the report widget. However, with IBM Cognos Analysis Studio, sorted information for crosstabs does not displays in the information bar in the report widget.
  • Sorting by label is not available in crosstab reports for summary rows or columns, nested measures, calculations, or rows and columns based on single dimensional members.
  • Sorting by value is not supported on the outer edges of a nested crosstab or in relational crosstabs.

In this scenario, Lynn Cope wants to use the possibility to sort the data in the report on a dashboard. For the Revenue and sales target by region report, she sorts the Revenue column to display the regions with the highest revenue at the top of the report. This sorting makes it easier for senior management to identify the best performing regions.

To sort this data:

  1. On the Revenue and sales target by region report, click the information bar to see the current sorting on the report. Notice that the report is sorted in ascending order by the label Branch region.
  2. Information bar with current sorting status
    Information bar with current sorting status

  3. To sort the report on the Revenue column in descending order, click the Revenue column. Then, click Sort Descending on the toolbar,
  4. Sorting column in a report
    Sorting column in a report

    The report now looks

    Report with sorted column
    Report with sorted column

Adding simple calculations

In IBM Cognos Business Insight, you can perform basic calculations for list and crosstab reports using data from one or more report items (for example, to divide the values from two columns). IBM Cognos Business Insight includes the following calculations:

  • Sum(+)
  • Difference(-)
  • Multiplication(*)
  • Division(/)
  • Difference(%)

Lynn Cope wants to modify the Promotion Data (Revenue vs Gross Profit) report to convert the report to a list report, to add one additional column (Gross Profit Margin=Gross Profit/Promotional Revenue), and to filter the report to obtain only the campaigns that are the most profitable.

To modify the report:

  1. First, convert the chart to a list report. Go to the Promotion Data (Revenue vs Gross Profit)report, and click Change Display Type List Table.
  2. Next, add a column by clicking the “Promotion revenue” column, pressing the Ctrl key on keyboard, and clicking the “Gross Profit” column. On the widget toolbar, follow these steps:
  3. a. Click Calculate Gross Profit/Promotion Revenue, to insert an additional column with a default name of Grossprofit/Promotion revenue.

    Perform simple calculation
    Perform simple calculation

    b. To move the newly created column to the last position in a list report, right-click the column, and click Move Right on the menu. The report now looks.

    Report with added calculated column
    Report with added calculated column

    c. To rename a column, right-click it, and click Rename. Enter Gross Profit Margin as the name..

  4. Next, narrow the data in a report and display only the campaigns with the high Gross Profit Margin (for example >0.4). Right-click the Gross Profit Margin for Extreme Campaign (value 0.41119418). Click Filter  =0.41119418. You can only filter data by selecting values from a report. You cannot type the= value manually.
  5. Resize the report widget. The report now looks as shown in Figure.
  6. Promotion Data report after filtering
    Promotion Data report after filtering

  7. Click Actions Menu, and click Save to save this version of the dashboard.

Note that the changes that you made are saved with the dashboard when you save it, but the original reports are not changed. When you save a dashboard for the first time, a copy of each report widget is created for the saved dashboard. After you open and change the report (for example, you apply a sort or add a calculation), the changes are saved in this copy. If you want to revert to the original report, use the Reset option on the widget Actions Menu button.


Filtering is a way to narrow the scope of data in reports by removing unwanted data. As shown in the previous example, only the data that meets the criteria of the filter displays.

You can find the information about all the filters that are applied to the report on the information bar. In the case of our previous example, the applied filters looks

Information bar displaying applied filters

Information bar displaying applied filters

Note that if you apply a filter or sort to data in a table report that is changed to a chart, the information bar displays the filter and sort information in the chart. However, you cannot filter on chart data in the report widget by using the filter actions from the report widget toolbar or context menu. User can filter the data on reports using one of the following options:

  • Prompt
  • Filter in individual report widget using filter actions
  • Slider or select value filter

You receive prompts to select the parameter values before the report runs. Based on the parameter values that you select, the report is filtered.

You can filter the individual report widget using filter actions on numeric and non-numeric values. When filtering on values that are non-numeric in a list or in crosstab reports, for example the name of the campaign as you can use the Include or Exclude conditions. You can select multiple non-numeric values (in list reports within the same column and in crosstabs in column or row headings) on which to filter. All values are included in the condition.

Filtering non-numeric data

Filtering non-numeric data

For numeric data you can use conditions (for example >, >=, <, >=) if only one value is selected, or you can use Between and Not Between if two values are selected.

Filtering numeric data

Filtering numeric data

In case of compound reports that consist of more report parts, if all parts share the same query, a filter applied to one report part is also applied to the other. If the query is not shared, the filter is applied only to the selected report part within the report widget.

If you want to remove a filter from a report widget on the information bar, click the delete icon next to the filter that you want to remove.

Removing filter

Removing filter

Note that you can delete only filters that are created using one of the following


  • The filter button
  • The filter context menu
  • The slider filter
  • The select value filter

You cannot remove filters applied in IBM Cognos Analysis Studio, IBM Cognos Query Studio, or IBM Cognos Report Studio in this manner.

Use advanced filtering

Filtering data in the report widget using a slider widget or a select value filter widget filters data in all reports that communicate with that particular filter. Thus, if you have a select value filter for regions , it filters all reports that have regions as a data item. Also, it filters data only on those reports that communicate with that filter. When you select a value on a filter widget, the report widget refreshes to display the filtered data items that you selected.

Widget communication

Communication between widgets in IBM Cognos Business Insight has an important role in understanding how filter widgets work. By default, widgets communicate with each other. For example, report widgets can interact with each other and with filter widgets. Based on the type of interaction, the following types of widgets are available:

  • A source widget is a widget that is broadcasting information.
  • A target widget is a widget that is listening to other widgets.

The results of actions in the source widgets are shown in the associated target widgets. Filter widgets broadcast the information (sending the data based on your input or selection). Report widgets can be both source and target widgets. Image and RSS feed widgets are also source widgets. For example, an image widget can broadcast a specified URL in a web page widget when the image is clicked.

By default, two report widgets listen to each other. If they are based on the same dimensionally-modelled data source and if the report contains items from the same hierarchy, drilling in one report widget affects a drill in the other report widget.

If you do not want a target widget to receive information from any or all source widgets, you must disable the communication in the target widget.You can also choose to disable some widget events while leaving other widget events enabled.For example, you might want a widget to listen to filter events and to not listen to drill events from another widget.

Using filter widgets

Filter widgets are especially useful if you have several reports on a dashboard that share the same data items.

In our business scenario, Lynn Cope wants to add a select value filter for regions to make filtering easier for the users of the dashboard. This filtering allows business users to narrow the scope of data and to focus on analyzing data for a specific region or to have a global overview on all regions.

After adding a select value filter, Lynn notices that the filter is impacting one report that she does not want to filter. She needs to modify the communication between these widgets to change this behavior.

The Great Outdoor company Sales Dashboard currently looks as shown.

Dashboard before adding filter widget

Dashboard before adding filter widget

To modify the dashboard to change the communication between widgets:

  1. Drag Select Value Filter from the Toolbox tab to the dashboard. The Properties - Select Value Filter window opens, You can filter on the Region data item for reports Revenue Planned versus Actual and Gross Profit by Region. Select Region. Leave the default setting for the remainder of the options, and click OK.
  2. Select Value Filter properties window
    Select Value Filter properties window

    widget opens on the dashboard

    Select a value filter widget by region
    Select a value filter widget by region

  3. Select values for Central Europe, Northern Europe, and Southern Europe, and click Apply. Note that the Revenue Planned versus Actual and Gross Profit by Region refresh and now display data just for the selected regions,
  4. Dashboard with filter applied for the region
    Dashboard with filter applied for the region

  5. You do not want to filter the data on the Revenue Planned versus Actual report, so you can remove filtering on that report widget. Click Action, and then click Listen to Widget Events.
  6. Scroll down to Select Value Filter, and clear that option as Now this widget will not communicate with the select value filter widget.
  7. Listen for Widget Events window
    Listen for Widget Events window

  8. Go to the filter widget, and select Americas and Asia Pacific. Click Apply. The Gross Profit by Region report is filtered again and now shows data for these two regions. However, the Revenue Planned versus Actual report remains the same, because it is not listening to the filter widget anymore.
  9. Filtering report after changes in Listening for Widget Events properties
    Filtering report after changes in Listening for Widget Events properties

  10. You want the Revenue Planned versus Actual report to display data for all regions, so you remove filtering that was applied previously with the select filter widget. Go to the information bar, and remove the filter
  11. Removing filter from a report widget
    Removing filter from a report widget

    Modified dashboard
    Modified dashboard

Add non-BI content to a dashboard

In addition to IBM Cognos BI content, you can add non-BI content, such as images, text, web pages, or RSS feeds, to a dashboard. In our business scenario, Lynn Cope wants to include stock exchange reports and news from various websites.

To add non-BI content:

  1. Assure that the Atom feed URL (* in this case) is added to the trusted domain list that is defined in the IBM Cognos Configuration tool.
  2. Drag the RSS Feed widget from the Toolbox pane to the dashboard. In the Properties RSS Feed window, enter the following URL:
  3. Click OK.
  4. Add RSS Feed to a dashboard
    Add RSS Feed to a dashboard

    The widget is added to a dashboard

    RSS Feed widget
    RSS Feed widget

Work with report versions and watch rules

Usually, reports are run directly against the underlying data source so that they reflect the latest data. However, at time, reports can use older data for comparisons. For example, you might want to see older data to compare monthly revenue for a region before and after features are added. Alternatively, if reports are running against a datawarehouse that is refreshed once daily, you do not need reports that are executed multiple times during working hours on the same data set. In this types of scenarios, you can use the report output versions in report widgets. Report outputs are saved when the report runs in the background.

You can choose to view the saved report output versions (by default, it is the latest saved output version) or to view the live version of the report, as illustrated

Report version options
Report version options

For the output versions of the reports, you can define the watch rules to monitor events of interest. Watch rules are based on event conditions that are evaluated when the report is saved. The watch rule sends an alert when a specific condition in a saved report is satisfied.

Watch rules can generate one of the following types of alerts:

  • Send the report by email
  • Publish a news item
  • Send a notification to the task inbox

The next example shows how to use the watch rules in the business use case of the Great Outdoors company. Lynn Cope created a list report with the campaigns by product lines and the gross profit. She noticed the negative Gross Profit in case of the Extreme Campaign for Outdoor Protection product lines. To enable other users to monitor that result and to take measures if necessary, she wants to add a watch rule to that value.

To add a watch rule:

  1. Open IBM Cognos Business Insight, select the Create New option, and navigate to the folder where you imported the deployment archive that we provided with the additional materials accompanying this book. Open the Business Insight Source Reports folder, and add the Campaigns by productlines report to the dashboard.
  2. Click Actions Menu, click Versions , and inspect the options that are available.
  3. To add a watch rule to the negative Gross Profit value for Extreme Campaign, right-click the intersection of Gross Profit and Outdoor Protection - Extreme Campaign, and click Alert Using New Watch Rule
  4. Add new watch rule
    Add new watch rule

  5. A window opens where you can specify the rule. Select the “Send an alert based on a thresholds” option. Leave the performance pattern as “High values are good.
  6. Enter the value 10000 in the first box and 0 in the second . Click Next.
  7. Watch rule specification
    Watch rule specification

  8. A window opens where you can specify an alert type. You can set up a watch rule to send different alerts depending on the performance status of a condition (good, average, and poor). Set the alert to send an email in the case of average performance and to publish a news item in case of good performance. Make a selection
  9. Alert type specification
    Alert type specification

  10. Define the headline and text of the news item by clicking Edit the options for Publish a news item.
  11. Define the list of users that you want to receive the email by clicking Edit the options for Send a notification.
  12. Click Next. Enter the following text as the name for a watch rule:
  13. Gross Profit for Outdoor Protection has met a threshold condition
  14. Click Finish.
  15. The watch rule is added, and you can view it if you click Watch New Versions on the report widget toolbar.

    Watch new versions menu
    Watch new versions menu

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