Less than a week until TechXChange!

With one week to go, I have some good and some bad news regarding my session.

Let’s start with the bad news. Due to some really bad timing and conflicting schedules, I have to withdraw from my bursting session. Don’t worry though, the session itself is still happening! My good friends and colleagues Rory Cornelius and Craig Colangelo will be taking over for me. Also, I’m hoping to repeat the session itself at the New England User Group happening in October.

And the good news! I have three other sessions planned, PLUS I’ll be at the AIDAUG sessions on Monday.

Let’s go over the other sessions I have:

Tuesday at 3:45 PM
Harnessing the Stars: Using Cognos for Astrological Forecasting – a warning on generative AI [4933]

Astrology has been used for centuries to make predictions about the future, but can it be integrated with modern data analytics? This session will explore how Cognos can be used to create astrological forecasting applications. Attendees will learn how to use Cognos to analyze planetary positions, astrological events, and other celestial data to generate predictions about future events. But here in reality, we will discuss how AI can generate insane proposals, and the best way to leverage AI without falling into the trap of blindly accepting everything it generates. AI has revolutionized many industries, however when it comes to generating proposals, particularly in complex and critical decision-making processes, it is crucial to approach AI-generated suggestions with caution.
Session Type: Technology Breakout

Sounds ridiculous? It should! ChatGPT suggested that as a session. I’m using this as a platform to rant about how Generative AI is a tool that is still in it’s infancy. People shouldn’t 100% be relying on it, instead it should be used a starting point.

Wednesday I have two more sessions:
At 9:15AM:

Customizing Cognos Analytics: Enhancing User Experience and Adding New Features [1286]

Cognos Analytics is a powerful BI platform that enables data-driven decision-making. In this session, we’ll explore ways to customize CA to meet specific organizational needs, from changing its look and feel to adding new features. We’ll discuss modifying CA’s architecture, using custom themes and skins, and integrating third-party tools. We’ll also cover adding new features like buttons and services, including UI design, functionality development, and platform integration. By the end of this session, attendees will have a clear understanding of the different ways in which Cognos Analytics can be customized and will have the knowledge and tools they need to enhance the user experience and add new features to their own implementations.
Session Type: Technology Breakout

In this I go over, in detail, how I make extensions. From minor spec.json changes to complicated JavaScript extensions. During the session I’ll go over making a new extension, one inspired by the astrology silliness.

At 2:30PM

Third party tools in Cognos Analytics [1436]

In this session, we will explore the benefits and challenges of using third-party tools in Cognos. Specifically, we will focus on the use of CogBox, a popular add-on tool for Cognos that extends its functionality. We will discuss how CogBox can help you streamline your data analytics process by providing new tools for report and dashboard authors. Along the way, we will highlight some of the potential pitfalls of using third-party tools in Cognos and provide tips for ensuring a smooth integration. Whether you are a seasoned Cognos developer or just starting out, this session will provide valuable insights into how third-party tools can help you get the most out of Cognos.
Session Type: Tech Byte

This is a tech byte, so it’s only 30 minutes long. I’ll go over the pros and cons of using third party tools in Cognos. And then, of course, I’ll show off all of the really cool and fun tools I’ve added to Cognos.

There are a bunch of unmissable sessions, but here’s a few:
Thursday at 8AM:

Harnessing IBM Analytics API: Building Fast, Responsive, and Visually Impressive Dashboards [4954]

Join us in this interactive technical session, where we’ll steer you through the process of creating a super fast and appealing dashboard leveraging the IBM Analytics REST API. We’ll demonstrate how to invoke the REST API with plain JavaScript and Angular and incorporate numerous IBM Analytics Reports for sub-three-second data visualization. Designed for multi-device compatibility, the dashboard emphasizes speed, design elegance, and user-friendly interactivity. All examples used will be openly sourced, allowing participants to recreate and tailor the dashboard to their requirements. By the end of the session, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to create striking, highly responsive dashboards utilizing the IBM Analytics REST API.
Session Type: User Showcase Session

My good friend (and fellow AIDAUG board member) Ralf Roeber talks about using the JavaScript API in Cognos. Trust me, there is a ton of stuff you can do.

Thursday at 9:15 AM:

Unlocking Advanced Analytics with Cognos Customizations [3542]

Enhance your business analytics with Cognos customizations! This intermediate session highlights the creation of custom visualizations, maps, schematics, and extensions. Transform data into powerful insights and uncover geographic patterns with custom maps. Simplify complex relationships through custom schematics, and discover endless possibilities to enhance functionality to meet unique business needs. Don’t miss this chance to revolutionize your data-driven decision-making and fulfill advanced business analytics requirements.
Session Type: Product Tips & Tricks Session

This is going to be similar to mine, but will cover areas I don’t get into. Visualizations, maps, schematics, and so on. Jonah Mudse and I had a great call to make sure we weren’t overlapping.

The sad thing for me is both of these sessions are happening Thursday, while I will be flying back home. But trust me on this, were it not for the threat of mariticide, I would definitely be staying a day longer just for those. Sorry fellas, the wife wins this one.

If you are going, let me know! I love meeting fellow nerds, and we can chat about stupid ChatGPT responses and talk about Cognos and funs ways to break it.

I’m presenting at TechXChange 2023!

Hi all!

First, let me apologize for my lack of updates. I’ve been incredibly busy adding new features to CogBox.

But let’s move on to the fun news!

Together with my friend and colleague Rory Cornelius, I’m going to be presenting at TXC in September of this year! ChatGPT I wrote the following description:

Report bursting is a powerful capability that allows you to create a single template report and effortlessly generate customized outputs for each recipient. Whether you’re dealing with a handful of recipients or a large-scale distribution, Cognos will handle the workload efficiently, freeing up your time for more strategic tasks.

During our session, we’ll guide you through the process of setting up and optimizing report bursting in Cognos. One exciting topic on the agenda is using Event Studio to create dynamic subject lines for burst emails. Imagine personalizing subject lines based on specific recipient attributes, or attaching the results of multiple burst reports into a single email.

Another area we’ll explore is the smart utilization of bursting on directory entries. By leveraging this feature, you can ensure that users see their own data instantly – no matter how complex the source report. We’ll discuss real-world use cases that highlight the practical benefits of this approach and how it can enhance your organization’s reporting workflows.

Our aim is to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of report bursting, from personalizing the individual burst outputs to common (and no so common) problems you may encounter. We will also go over integrating the burst outputs with other Cognos functionalities, covering all of the essential aspects that ensure you make the most of this feature.

So, if you’re ready to take your reporting game to the next level and explore the untapped potential of Cognos report bursting, make sure to reserve your spot for “Maximizing Cognos Reports with Report Bursting.”

One of the things I’ll talk about is a system I made for a road safety organization in which every fatal accident had a complicated generated report. Every morning the report would burst to the file system all of the accidents from the previous year. The run time of these 20+ page reports dropped down to instant.

Another system I wrote for another company was a complicated series of personalized reports for salespeople. Every night after the ETL ran I had a dozen or so reports bursting based on the CAMID. Users would log in and see their data instantly. The database people were also happy because the majority of the load happened at night .

I ended up submitting a total of 7 session proposals, and I’m a little disappointed that my session on secret APIs in Cognos wasn’t accepted. I guess talking about unsupported code that I only found by decompiling internal Java classes is undesirable for the IBM management team. The proposal “Harnessing the Stars: Using Cognos for Astrological Forecasting – a warning on AI text generators” also wasn’t accepted, which really wasn’t a surprise to me, but I was planning on writing a full fledged AI generated horoscope system and then ranting about how stupid and unreliable generative AI is at the moment.

Also, if you’re reading this on July 21st, 2023, you have until the end of today to register to get the Early Bird discount! Like voting, you should use this link to register early and often!

If you’re attending, drop me a message and we can meet up! I’m planning on flying in the weekend before the conference starts.

Cognos, Watson, and AIDAUG

There has been some interesting changes in the world of Cognos. As of version 11.2.1, Cognos has been renamed to “IBM Cognos with Watson”. IBM Cognos with WatsonPaul is a mouthful, so I’m going to stick with boring CognosPaul.

But what does this change actually mean? Watson has already been integrated into Cognos with the exploration studio, so is this just marketing? The answer may surprise you!

Actually, the answer probably won’t surprise you, and I loath clickbait. I tend to be pragmatic, and marketing is extremely low on my priority list. Yes, I believe at the moment it’s mostly a marketing ploy. The direction is more implementation of Watson smarts. Right now we’ve got data modules with a recommendation engine, data exploration, and some forecasting elements. In terms of AI it’s a little underwhelming. Yes there’s voice recognition and some conversational elements, but I’m becoming jaded.

But imagine if Cognos could automatically identify candidates for matching data to other datasets? IBM as a company has access to a huge repository of additional data. The Weather Company (An IBM Company) could be a huge candidate for enriching data. Logistics companies especially could benefit from weather analysis and prediction for routing. If Cognos could do the same with internal data sets at a company might be a game changer. Intelligently linking disperate data sources can be difficult at the best of times.

The smarts in data modeling is fairly complicated. A good overview can be found here. The implications of the influence detection should mean that “what if” scenarioing will be more effective as the user tweaks the influence values.

And all of this leads to AIDAUG. As a Philly boy I pronounce it “‘Ayyyy dawg”, but some of my fellow co-founders think I’m crazy for it. AIDAUG stands for AI and Data Analytics User Group. It’s an IBM sponsored user group with the goal of influencing the direction of AI development.

AI has a huge influence on day to day life. Reviewing (and often rejecting) resumes, deciding on bank loans, chatbots, advertising, or even social media sites deciding which posts to deliver to the end users, AI is everywhere.

Almost every aspect of AI has positive and negative implementations. Let’s take text analytics. Over decades medical research has produced millions of papers. Drug interactions and symptoms are recorded and saved, even when they don’t produce the desired results now a future drug may rely on this research. AI can be used to read through billions of these documents. But at the same time the exact same methodologies can be used to harvest user data for malicious actors. You know all of those stupid quizzes like “What was your first car” or “how far do you live from where you were born”? Each time a user answers, malicious actors can use AI to harvest those results and build detailed profiles for each user. That profile can be used to build focused ads to influence opinion or at worst be a source for identity theft.

Video editing is also a great use for AI, upscaling ancient films is a wonderful use. But then we also have these “deepfakes” which can be used to make fraudulent or even pornographic videos. AI will intelligently remap a face on a video or even a photo.

And finally we have facial recognition. Loved by both airlines, security services, and police states. There is much that can be said about it, but I couldn’t possibly state it better than the current CEO of IBM, Arvind Krishna, who wrote in a letter to Congress: “IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”

But I can’t leave a reference to facial recognition without mentioning the cancer fighting pastry AI. It’s a great read: https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-pastry-ai-that-learned-to-fight-cancer

Ultimately I hope AIDAUG will help guide AI development in an ethical direction. I invite everyone reading this to join, even if you have only a passing interest in AI. Please check us out at https://aidaug.org/