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Peter Edwards

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The Future of IBM Planning Analytics - IBM Data and AI Forum Debrief

Posted by Peter Edwards on Thu, Oct, 31, 2019 @ 08:58 AM

It was an exciting set of news and updates around IBM PA at the IBM Data and AI Conference in Miami last week. Through a variety of presentations by IBM Offering Management as well is in private meetings with IBM executives, we felt a renewed buzz and commitment to the platform by senior business executives at IBM. It is clear that the system is front and center in the overall Data and AI strategy and IBM continues to commit resources to further the platform development.

We feel that IBM, as promised, did a great job to continue enhancing the platform over the last 6-12 months. These tactical, step-by-step updates, were focused on enhancing the core set of features and capabilities as well as improving the performance and stability of the platform. The roadmap includes a number of more strategic updates and we feel that many of them are well along the way. While IBM did not provide any specific timelines or deadlines for individual deliverables, we would not be surprised if there will be a lot of accomplishment to discuss by the IBM Think conference in San Francisco in May 2020.

A high level outline of the key areas of focus is the following:

The “TM1” Name is Back!

In a move that is widely applauded by the core User and Business Partner base, IBM is bringing the “TM1” name back. The name has great recognition across the user base globally. Over and over we continue getting the question “What is the difference between IBM PA and TM1”. This marketing adjustment will bring more clarity to the platform and reduce confusion. The new marketing tagline is “IBM Planning Analytics powered by IBM TM1”.

IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW)

Some of the key recent enhancements to PAW include rich text formatting, action buttons, wider variety of fonts, drill up on visualization, corporate themes and other features. In addition to ongoing updates to core features, focus continues on making Workspace the primary modeling interface and close the gap to Architect. At this stage, a lot of the capabilities are in place with only minor items remaining (cube locking, drill definition and others).

IBM Planning Analytics for Excel (PAX)

The Excel add-in has been significantly improved and stabilized over the last 3-6 months. It seems that major gaps to Perspectives have been substantively closed. Key future focus areas include use of virtual hierarchies in all reports, adding relative proportional spread as an option, further enhancing flexibility of Quick reports as well as continued tackling of small fixes and enhancement requests

Integration with Cognos Analytics (BI)

Further integrating IBM PA and CA across all platforms and configurations (On-Prem, Cloud Dedicated, Cloud Standard etc) is a top priority. With native integration in place, the ability to cross-leverage the platforms across all deployment options is still a work in progress from both technical as well as licensing perspective. Efforts to provide on-demand integration as well as give individual users access will provide great price flexibility to users with both platforms.

Cloud Capacity Increase

To accommodate larger customers and more complex model in the Cloud, IBM provides additional memory options beyond 512GB with as much as a 2TB capacity limit as part of a standard offering. While we never really saw the current memory limit as a model limitation, with the cloud adoption gaining further momentum this will make migration of large enterprise customers more viable.

Guided Navigation / Modeling

After a long time discussing various approaches to Workflow and collaboration, it seems that IBM is taking a simplified and more intuitive / faster approach to the problem. Based on some of the wireframe pictures and views it seems that this will be a simple and intuitive way to provide a customized work environment with guided navigation. It will provide more of an “Application” look and feel that will offer more configuration options to the end users and will be more intuitive to deploy. That in turn will drive adoption and reduce time to market, especially for smaller players.

 Licensing Options and Overall Value

IBM is introducing a number of new licensing options that will likely make the platform even more accessible to small companies and provide a cost effective option to adopt and grow the application starting with a small user base. In addition to this, IBM introduced a number of competitive pricing offers and sales plays in 2019 that will make the option very attractive.

Topics: IBM Cognos TM1, IBM Planning Analytics

Integrating Resource Management with Cognos Command Center

Posted by Peter Edwards on Tue, Jan, 28, 2014 @ 04:46 PM

For companies with large data stores, the benefits of performing analytics are impossible to deny: an IBM study revealed that enterprises which conduct analytics have up to 1.6x revenue growth, 2x EBITDA growth and 2.5x stock price appreciation of those that don’t. [1] However, as data volumes continue to escalate, the cost of providing analytics climbs as well. 90% of companies with 1,000 or more employees access several distinct data sources to complete their accounting close, and 43% use four of more. In the finance industry, professionals spend only 22% of their time performing actual analysis – the rest is spent waiting for data or verifying its authenticity. [2] 

Cognos Command Center

Because large datasets lead to longer downtimes for maintenance, most IT departments perform automation to manage systems. These custom built systems tend to be fragile, require updates when source systems are updated or added, and rely on the knowledge of a few key members of the team. Issues that do arise require substantial involvement of IT personnel, and if critical members of the team are absent, they can cause massive delays.

IBM Cognos Command Center is a new product offered by IBM that facilitates database management by consolidating all of your resources into one dashboard. Cognos Command Center is designed to be usable by business professionals without extensive technical knowledge, and provides enterprises with a robust alternative to custom data warehouse management.

Why should you use IBM Cognos Command Center? Here are a few reasons:

Command Center is Intuitive

Cognos Command Center comes packed with plugins so you can snap-in functions that would normally require custom coding and maintenance from IT. Perform file operations, secure data transfers, and native database functions without writing one line of code. Save money on IT resources, and better utilize your existing employees by allowing them to spend less time on routine tasks. Command Center takes the guesswork out of process failures by alerting you immediately by email, and translating commonly encountered errors into plain English. IT can even add procedures to deal with recoverable errors automatically and silently.

Command Center is Secure

Manage your servers from anywhere in the world via the web or your mobile device. Many complex systems involve the use of stored login credentials, but most companies do a poor job securing this data, representing a major security risk from both internal and external sources and accounting for 13% of all breaches according to a Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report. [3] Cognos Command Center encrypts sensitive data, and users can run processes that utilize stored login credentials without ever being able to read them. In the event of failure or intrusion, any change, no matter how small, can be traced to a single user.

Command Center is Flexible

IBM Cognos Command Center uses global variables to aid in synchronization of data between servers. Manage your workflow centrally, and update parameters on every server you own with a single click. Never lose hours of uptime to rolling back data because of a forgotten parameter again! Command Center integrates workflows for heterogeneous environments into one management system, and its plugin-based system means functionality can quickly be added for new storage systems as they are introduced.

Command Center is Supported

IBM Cognos Command Center is the newest member of the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence family. IBM was ranked a clear “leader” in Gartner’s 2013 Business Intelligence & Analytics Magic Quadrant. The Cognos platform’s ability to serve as a complete BI solution has been bolstered by IBM’s recent high profile acquisitions. IBM Cognos received high marks from clients regarding road map and future vision, product quality, and ability to integrate with information infrastructure. [4] The addition of Command Center to the Cognos family represents IBM’s ongoing commitment to deliver the most full-featured business intelligence platform available.

Topics: IBM Cognos TM1, IBM Cognos Command Center, Star Analytics

How Do TM1 Financial Systems Ensure Clean Data?

Posted by Peter Edwards on Wed, Jan, 08, 2014 @ 03:44 PM

Summary

Almost half of new business initiatives fail because of poor data, according to a recent article on the EPM Channel website. While manual processes can temporarily fix issues, The IBM TM1 technology uses a series of checks and balances to ensure that businesses can build a database on clean data, saving employees time and avoiding costly mistakes.

How Do TM1 Financial Systems Ensure Clean Data?

Almost half of new business initiatives fail because of poor data, according to a recent article on the EPM Channel website. This trend fuels mistakes in everything from bill payments to shipping, and often means that your best employees spend more time organizing data instead of analyzing it.

ibm_cognos_tm1This is a long-standing pain a lot of businesses incur with dirty data. With Big Data, businesses have large amounts of data, so the quality of that comes into question. Organizations often are looking at ways to improve their data because they have too many manual processes in place or their data is being cleaned in a non-automated fashion. If your data is clean and organized, you’ll streamline processes and align the organization on a set of numbers. As the EPM Channel article points out, it’s best to do this at the start, saving employee resources and avoiding costly problems.

There are systems that can help. TM1 financial solutions enforce what’s called referential integrity in data. Many times, when pulling data to put into TM1, there are problems in supporting systems that must be fixed. For instance, if you’re pulling data from a financial system that’s doing consolidations, there could be numbers at an account level that do not necessarily total to the parent account that they should roll up into. That’s because the system allows users to store two different numbers. This means there are a number of child accounts that fail to add up to the appropriate total because the database doesn’t enforce referential integrity.

Most relational databases or ERP applications don’t necessarily enforce these rules. They try to put business rules in place, but fundamentally the technology allows users to enter data in different places, creating conflicting information. When pulling data into the TM1 financial systems software, the detail-level account data rolls up into the parent account, creating that figure. This method ensures that the parent figure isn’t entered separately and avoids any situations where the child accounts don’t add up to the parent number. Therefore, users who leverage TM1 as there database are much more likely to have quality, clean data.

To learn more about TM1 financial solutions or see a TM1 demo contact ACG.

Contact ACG

Topics: TM1 Technology, IBM Cognos TM1, Business Forecasting, Clean Data, Performance Management

Seven Ways IBM Cognos TM1 Aids Forecasting

Posted by Peter Edwards on Fri, Dec, 06, 2013 @ 04:53 PM

Summary

Does your company suffer from common forecasting problems? In a white paper on the subject, the IBM Beyond Budgeting Round Table illustrates how the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution can help finance managers identify common symptoms and implement solutions that lead to a healthier organization.

7 Ways IBM Cognos Aids Forecasting

Whether companies realize it or not, they likely suffer from at least one symptom of forecasting illness. Misconceptions and antiquated forecasting processes lead to decreased accuracy, quality and profitability for businesses. To successfully treat these forecasting illnesses, finance managers must identify common symptoms and implement solutions that lead to a healthier organization.

In a white paper titled “Seven Symptoms of Forecasting Illness” the IBM Beyond Budgeting Round Table illustrates how the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution can help identify and cure these pervasive ailments.

1) Semantic confusion: A company might show signs of semantic confusion if the organization finds it difficult to deal with unexpected or undesirable forecasts. This symptom can manifest as a blurred line between the forecast and the company’s goal.

Cure: To address this symptom, companies can use the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution to allow managers to create, maintain, and reference multiple forecast scenarios easily and efficiently.

2) Visual impairment: A company may suffer from visual impairment if it is obsessed with the year-end forecast numbers, or if it is surprised by new developments at the beginning of the fiscal year.

Cure: Companies should focus on building a comprehensive company forecast strategy. BP is a great example of the power of combined forecasting. BP brought all of the company’s stakeholders together in a large auditorium and efficiently completed a comprehensive company forecast.

In some companies, salespeople are either pushing their numbers to count toward next year’s sales goals or holding their numbers to this year to benefit themselves under their compensation plans. You really need to separate compensation from the forecasting process to take this manipulation out of the process and get truer information.

3) Systemic overload: Systemic overload is characterized by an increasing need to add greater detail and additional analysis in the misguided view that more data is always better in the forecasting process.

Cure: Don’t get stuck in the fine details. With IBM’s TM1 financial planning solution, companies can quickly build scenarios that reflect potential realities while achieving a balance between initial data input and subsequent analysis.

For best practices, you should only be planning the primary financial line items in your business. You should identify 20-50 of these line items that are most important in your business. If you go into too much detail in your budget, you are going to spend all your time configuring the budget and not enough time doing the analysis of it afterward.

4) Prosperity syndrome: If a company’s forecast reflects optimistic growth regardless of negative industry trends or current economic conditions, it may be suffering from prosperity syndrome.

Cure: To alleviate this symptom, companies should consider current market conditions, examine expected competitor strategies and rely on accurate data provided by TM1 financial systems.

5) Lack of coordination: If an organization has multiple sources, or silos, of data, it can’t create reliable, consistent forecasts.

Cure: In order to have a good forecasting process, you also need good data organization in the company. This can be achieved by adopting a single forecasting system throughout the entire organization and feeding data into the forecasting system from other enterprise systems like the General Ledger or the Human Resource Management systems.

6) Asocial behavior: If an organization routinely manipulates or alters its forecasts, even if doing so is not in the best interest of the company, it may suffer from asocial behavior.

Cure: Companies should reward managers and employees based on the value they provide, rather than rewarding “sandbaggers” for abusing the system. This can be achieved by eliminating links between incentive compensation and forecasts.

7) Lack of executive sponsorship: If individual departments are attempting to improve the forecasting process, but others are split over the importance of the task, an organization may suffer from a lack of executive sponsorship.

Cure: In order for a company to be successful in their financial planning and reporting efforts, it has to come from the top down. These processes will touch multiple parts of the organization and must be designated a key strategic initiative of the entire company in order for it to be successful.

All companies suffer from at least one type of forecasting illness. These factors are a reminder that every business needs to constantly examine its core process and culture to ensure they’re using the most accurate forecasting process and tools. By implementing a data analysis tool like the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution, organizations can achieve a high level of efficiency and promote healthier forecasting.

Free Whitepaper: 7 Symptoms of  Forecasting Illness

Topics: Data Analysis Tool, Business Intelligence, IBM Cognos TM1

4 Ways IBM Cognos TM1 BI Solution Can Cure Forecasting Problems

Posted by Peter Edwards on Mon, Nov, 18, 2013 @ 03:45 PM

IBM business cognos tm1 forecasting rf

Summary

Does your company suffer from common forecasting problems? In a white paper on the subject, the IBM Beyond Budgeting Round Table illustrates how the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution can help finance managers identify common symptoms and implement solutions that lead to a healthier organization.

Whether companies realize it or not, they likely suffer from at least one symptom of forecasting illness. Misconceptions and antiquated forecasting processes lead to decreased accuracy, quality and profitability for businesses. To successfully treat these forecasting illnesses, finance managers must identify common symptoms and implement solutions that lead to a healthier organization.

In a white paper titled “Seven Symptoms of Forecasting Illness” the IBM Beyond Budgeting Round Table illustrates how the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution can help identify and cure these pervasive ailments. Here are three of the top forecasting issues with a bonus issue that the ACGI experts often see.

1) Semantic confusion: A company might show signs of semantic confusion if the organization finds it difficult to deal with unexpected or undesirable forecasts. This symptom can manifest as a blurred line between the forecast and the company’s goal.
Cure: To address this symptom, companies can use the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution to allow managers to create, maintain, and reference multiple forecast scenarios easily and efficiently.

2)  Visual impairment: A company may suffer from visual impairment if it is obsessed with the year-end forecast numbers, or if it is surprised by new developments at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Cure: Companies should focus on building a comprehensive company forecast strategy. BP is a great example of the power of combined forecasting. BP brought all of the company’s stakeholders together in a large auditorium and efficiently completed a comprehensive company forecast.

In some companies, salespeople are either pushing their numbers to count toward next year’s sales goals or holding their numbers to this year to benefit themselves under their compensation plans. You really need to separate compensation from the forecasting process to take this manipulation out of the process and get truer information.

3) Lack of coordination: If an organization has multiple sources, or silos, of data, it can’t create reliable, consistent forecasts.
Cure: In order to have a good forecasting process, you also need good data organization in the company. This can be achieved by adopting a single forecasting system throughout the entire organization and feeding data into the forecasting system from other enterprise systems like the General Ledger or the Human Resource Management systems.

4)  Lack of executive sponsorship: If individual departments are attempting to improve the forecasting process, but others are split over the importance of the task, an organization may suffer from a lack of executive sponsorship.
Cure: In order for a company to be successful in their financial planning and reporting efforts, it has to come from the top down. These processes will touch multiple parts of the organization and must be designated a key strategic initiative of the entire company in order for it to be successful.

All companies suffer from at least one type of forecasting illness. These factors are a reminder that every business needs to constantly examine its core process and culture to ensure they’re using the most accurate forecasting process and tools. By implementing a data analysis tool like the IBM Cognos TM1 business intelligence solution, organizations can achieve a high level of efficiency and promote healthier forecasting.

To learn more about these and other key forecasting issues companies are facing, download the white paper, “Seven Symptoms of Forecasting Illness.”

 

Free Whitepaper: 7 Symptoms of  Forecasting Illness

Topics: IBM Cognos TM1, Business Forecasting, Performance Management

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