Think 2018 – Wednesday

Wow, today was busy. The crowds are much smaller, the rooms still fill up all the way, but everyone can actually attend.

I started the day with “Front Row Seat to the Future: Ticketmaster’s Journey to Cognos Analytics on Cloud”. It’s interesting that many of the Cognos user success sessions involve moving to the cloud. It’s certainly seems to have worked for them. Part of the process involved a good amount of planning. Auditing users, reports, usage. Migrate only things that were used. By embracing the new self-service capabilities, TicketMaster managed to successfully migrate, and improve user adoption of Cognos.

Next was the Road Map. This was the session I’ve been waiting for. It was set up as a game-show type thing, with Rachel Su, Kevin McFaul, and Jason Tavoulis taking turns presenting changes in their products (Report Studio, Dashboards, and Exploration) to a panel of judges. BI Execs WestJet, GameStop, and QuadReal all took part and gave hearts, thumbs up, and indifferent emojis in response to the new features.

Rachel was demoed the changes to report studio. Dragging in new objects essentially creates a table son the fly, making positioning things much easier. Formatting things is much easier, including multi select formatting! Navigating between pages is much easier, with a menu at the top letting you switch, without having to go to the insertable pane.

Kevin was showing off dashboard. Copy from existing reports, nice grid background and can see underlying data. Better formatting. He got a hug from WestJet over the dashboard formatting. I think users could very quickly copy/paste from existing reports to dashboards. I’m curious how this would work with really complex reports. Custom polygons on mapbox maps. Can lasso points in a map to filter other objects. Can lasso other visualizations. New vis, Watson spiral.

Jason showed off something new. From any visualization, you can now expand it and EXPLORE. Remember the old Watson Analytics stuff? Watson, now in Cognos, will suggest related visualizations, it will use natural language to talk about points in the visualization, including things that may not be readily apparent. Any insights it makes can be clicked on, and explored further. You can even see the decision tree used to make that insight. Another interesting thing is that Watson will accept natural language questions. In the demo Jason asked “show me the hourly capacity rates by day” and Cognos/Watson returned a graph. In every case, looking at a new graph will save the previous graph in a list on the left. And, again, you can copy the graph from there and paste into a dashboard.

Kevin did talk about the future, including some (incredibly light on details) things about user data modelling, and a new tool to extend and embed the dashboard in applications.

I spoke with the Design Team, not the developers making Cognos, but the ones making it look nice and easy to use. I had an interesting conversation with one of them about some of the issues I’ve encountered with Report Studio. She’ll get back to me on some of it, but did say that in some future release the super annoying popover menu will be pinnable to the top of the screen. Almost like a toolbar.

I wasn’t able to make some of the afternoon sessions due to some time constraints, but I did get to the Ikea and GameStop sessions. Ikea upgrading to Cognos Analytics, “How to Flat Pack the Cognos Analytics Migration—The IKEA Way!” and GameStop “Gamifying Success: How GameStop Shifted from BI Producers to Analytics Enablers”. In both cases I was super impressed. Ultimately, with both sessions the lesson was clear. Make a plan, set dates, and clean up the environment before making huge changes.

The GameStop session had a really great session doc here: https://1.dam.s81c.com/m/23abe93d624d0749/original/GameStop_IBM_Think_2018-pdf.pdf

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