Introduction to IBM Cognos Business Insight - IBM Cognos

IBM Cognos Business Insight is a web-based user interface that allows you to open or edit a dashboard or to create a dashboard.

You can launch IBM Cognos Business Insight using one of the following methods:

  • From the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) Welcome page
  • From IBM Cognos Connection by clicking New dashboard or by clicking the hyperlink of an existing dashboard object
  • From the Launch menu in IBM Cognos Connection and IBM Cognos Administration
  • Directly in web browser by entering a URL using the following format:

You can open an IBM Cognos Business Insight interface in two modes:

  • Chrome mode
  • Chromeless mode

Chrome mode includes the toolbars and menus of a web browser, and chromeless mode does not these elements.

When you launch IBM Cognos Business Insight directly in a web browser by entering a URL, it opens in chrome mode. If you use any of the other options to launch IBM Cognos Business Insight, it opens in chromeless mode.

Business Insight user interface

Business Insight user interface

The user interface has the following components:

  • A Getting Started page that displays when you launch IBM Cognos Business Insight
  • An application bar
  • A dashboard layout area
  • A content pane that includes the Content and Toolbox tabs
  • Widgets and filters

The Getting Started page

Figure shows the page that opens when you launch IBM Cognos Business Insight.

The Getting Started page

The Getting Started page

You can complete the following activities from this page:

  • Create a new dashboard
  • Open an existing dashboard
  • View and open favorite dashboards from Favorites
  • View how-to videos that provide an overview to Business Insight

When you select any of the options on the Getting Started page, the page closes. If you do not want this page to display when you launch IBM Cognos Business Insight, disable it using the My Preferences menu option.

Application bar

The application bar displays the name of the current dashboard and contains the icons for different actions that you can perform in the dashboard layout area. For example, you can access the Action Menu, create a dashboard, open an existing dashboard, send an email or collaboration, change the layout, or search for content. In the following examples, we demonstrate the features of some of these icons.

Dashboard layout area

The dashboard layout area is the workspace on which you can combine data from different sources to gain insight into your business. You can add various widgets with BI content (lists, crosstabs, or chart reports), non-BI content (text, images, HTML pages, and RSS feeds), or you can add filters to narrow the scope of the data (sliders or select value filters).

Content pane

The content pane contains all that objects that you can add to a workspace. It is includes the following tabs:

  • The Content tab displays IBM Cognos content in a hierarchy of folders and subfolders with dashboards that you can open and reports that you can add to a workspace. This content is the same content as in IBM Cognos Connection with My Folders (personal content and dashboards) and Public Folders (content that is of interest for many business users).

Within the Content tab, you can enable or disable the display of information cards and refresh the display to get the current content. You can display content in thumbnail, list, or tree view.

In addition, you can filter the entire content using one of the following criteria:

  • All Content (default): Displays all the content that is available and that is supported in IBM Cognos Business Insight
  • My Favorites: Displays dashboards and reports that are marked as Favorite
  • My Folders: Displays the contents only from My Folders
  • Search: Displays the result of the search after a search is performed; otherwise, this view is unavailable
  • The Toolbox tab includes the following types of widgets that are provided by IBM Cognos Business Insight:
  • Widgets that can add additional content to a business user’s workspace, such as images, HTML content, or RSS feeds
  • Widgets that allow you to filter already added content, sliders, and select value filters


Widgets are containers for all objects that you can add to the workspace. For business users, widgets allow the interaction and manipulation with the content that they contain, whether it is a report or a filter. When you select a widget or it is in focus, an on demand toolbar displays, Depending on the type and content of a widget, a variety of toolbar options are available.

A widget with the on demand toolbar

A widget with the on demand toolbar

Widgets can communicate with other widgets. For example, you can use the slider filter to filter the data dynamically in one or more report widgets. Alternatively, if you have two report widgets that are created on the same dimensionally-modelled data source, when the data in one report is changed, the second report is updated based on user interactions in the first report. You can change the manner in which content displays in a widget. You can specify the title, language, top-level location where the navigation begins, summarized or detailed view, how the links in a widget are opened, and so forth.

There are two types of widgets inside IBM Cognos Business Insight:

  • Content widgets
  • Toolbox widgets

In the following sections, we discuss each of these widgets and when and how you can use them.

Content widgets

You can use content widgets when adding IBM Cognos content to the Content tab of a workspace. This section describes the content widgets.

Report widget

Business users use the report widget to add reports or individual report parts (for example list, crosstab, or chart) to a workspace. A report widget includes the following reports:

  • IBM Cognos Report Studio
  • IBM Cognos Query Studio
  • IBM Cognos Analysis Studio
  • IBM Cognos Metric Studio
  • Report views and saved report output versions

Reports objects that contain prompts, drill through, and navigation are supported.

It is leading practice to use report parts whenever possible instead of entire reports to improve the layout and usability of dashboards. Reports parts are smaller and provide consolidated information for business users. If you add the entire report with several report parts to a dashboard, all report parts that include the header and the footer are added to a single widget, which is not the best choice for a dashboard.

If IBM Cognos Metric Studio is installed and configured as part of your IBM Cognos BI environment, you can navigate to IBM Cognos Metric Studio content in the Content tab and add the following IBM Cognos Metric Studio content to a dashboard:

  • Watch lists
  • Scorecards
  • Strategies
  • Metric types
  • Individual metrics

When you add an individual metric to the dashboard, historical data for the metric displays in a form of a bar chart. For any other IBM Cognos Metric Studio content that you add, the content displays as a list of metrics for the selected item. Each metric in the list has a hyperlink that opens the individual metric in IBM Cognos Metric Studio.

If business users do not have a need for the most current data in some reports, they can use report output versions in report widgets. Users can choose to view the saved report output versions (by default, it is the latest saved output version) or the live version of the report. Users can also create watch rules based on specific conditions and thresholds for a given report version.

You can change several properties of a report widget using the widget Actions Menu button. For example, you can change the title of a widget, the maximum number of rows per page, the location, or the report specification. We use some of these actions in examples later in this chapter. For details about all properties that are available refer to the IBM Cognos Business Insight User Guide.

PowerPlay widget

If IBM Cognos PowerPlay Studio is installed and configured as part of your IBM Cognos BI environment, you can navigate to IBM Cognos PowerPlay Studio content in the Content tab and add IBM Cognos PowerPlay Studio reports to a dashboard using this widget.

When added to a workspace, a IBM Cognos PowerPlay Studio report displays in HTML format, but you can also view the report in PDF format.

You can take the following standard IBM Cognos PowerPlay Studio actions on this widget:

  • Switch between crosstab and indent crosstab display
  • Select a chart to display data
  • Swap rows and columns
  • Hide and show categories
  • Create a calculation by using rows or columns
  • Rank categories
  • Zero suppression
  • 80/20 suppression
  • Custom exception highlighting
  • Custom subsets
  • Drill through

TM1 widget

If IBM Cognos TM1 is installed and configured as part of your IBM Cognos BI environment, you can add applications that are developed in TM1 to a workspace. You can add the following TM1 content to a dashboard:

  • TM1 Websheet: Displays a spreadsheet with the TM1 data that you can view in a web browser
  • TM1 Cube View: Displays a view of a TM1 cube
  • IBM Cognos TM1 Contributor: Displays a web page with a URL that points to a TM1 Contributor Web Client TM1 objects are displayed in HTML format in a dedicated TM1 Viewer widget with TM1 toolbar buttons on top of the widget,
  • TM1 widget

TM1 Navigation Viewer is incorporated in the Content pane and is not available as separate widget. Entire TM1 content is located in a folder in the Content pane with two main folder at the highest level of the tree, which is Applications and Views, The Views folder contains original TM1 Cubes and TM1 Cube views objects, and the Applications folder has more sub-folders, TM1 Websheet objects, or TM1 Cube Views objects.

Example of TM1 Navigation Viewer

You can add only the individual TM1 content objects to a workspace (that is, TM1 Websheets, Cube Views, or TM1 Contributors), not the entire folders.

IBM Cognos Navigator

The IBM Cognos Navigator is a navigation browser that displays IBM Cognos BI content such as folders, packages, and reports.

Navigator widget

Toolbox widgets

You can use toolbox widgets when adding non-Cognos content to a workspace, either to add additional information or to filter the content of existing widgets in the workspace. In this section, we describe the toolbox widgets.

Web page widget

This widget displays HTML based content such as a Web page on a dashboard.

Image widget

This widget displays the image on the dashboard. The image must be a single file that is accessible by a URL. The image can also be used as a link. For example, you can configure the image widget to broadcast a specified URL in the web page widget or a new browser window when the image is clicked.

Using the web page widget: You must add the web page URL to the trusted domain list as defined in the IBM Cognos Configuration tool.

Using the image widget: You must add the image URL to the trusted domain list as defined in the IBM Cognos Configuration tool.

My Inbox widget

This widget displays an RSS feed of a user’s secure approval requests, ad-hoc tasks, and notification requests from My Inbox in IBM Cognos Connection.

Text widget

You can use this widget to display text on the dashboard.

RSS feed widget

This widget displays the content of a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) or an Atom news feed that is specified by a URL address. The specified URL must point to a valid RSS or Atom feed and not a web page, because the valid RSS feed link opens an XML file, not a web page. The RSS or Atom channel includes a list of links to specific web pages. You can specify how these links open in the web page widget or whether the web page widget listens to broadcasts from the RSS feed widget automatically.

Select value filter widget

You can use this widget to filter report data dynamically on the report widgets that you added to a workspace previously. For example, you can filter on the product line or region.

Select value filter widget

Select value filter widgets are useful in a situation when you have several reports on a dashboard that show data by a variety of locations, product lines, subsidiaries, or customers. With these filters, you can narrow the scope of data, which makes reports easier to read.

When adding a select value filter, you can select data items that you can filter with the corresponding report widget to which the items belong. You can also filter the reports on data items that are not shown in the report. The report must be authored in a way that allows this type of filtering. You must include the data item or items based on the items that you want to filter in the report query, and you must name the filter _BusinessInsight_. Therefore, additional data items must exist in the initial query (but do not have to display on the chart or crosstab) and in this separate query. For example, a bar chart shows returned quantity by product lines. However, you can filter the chart by years, because the report was authored in the manner that we described previously.

Filter report based on data that is not displayed

You can specify the list of values that you want in a select value filter, for example just some specific product lines or years. In addition, you can choose whether users can select single or multiple values in the filter widget.

Slider filter widget

You can use this widget, which is similar to the select value filter, to filter report data dynamically. Depending on the settings of the slider filter, this widget can filter single values or value range. This type of filtering is especially useful when filtering on a data range or numeric items, such as revenue and quantity.

Slider filter widget

As with a select value filter, you can also choose the data items on which to filter reports. In addition, you can filter data based on values that are not displayed on report widgets.

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