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Integration of IBM PA and IBM CA with Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT)

Posted by Steve Moore on July 29, 2020

Being able to leverage content from an IBM Planning Analytics (IBM PA) or IBM Cognos Analytics (IBM CA) in a PowerPoint (PPT) presentation is a common requirement by customers. Users are looking for flexibility in authoring presentation content as well as automation of the way data is updated in PPT when information in the tools refreshes. The optimal approach depends on the specific setup and business requirements of each customer, below are some options for consideration.

Scenario A: Customer only uses IBM PA and not IBM CA

Option 1 – Use IBM PA Workspace (PAW) Instead of PPT

IBM PA Workspace (PAW) provides a full feature visualization and dashboarding option that can be used to present content to audiences. This could streamline and automate the process and give the audience direct access to data in real time as well as the ability to navigate the content, drill down etc. It will not provide the same flexibility as PPT in terms of page customization but it may speed up and streamline the information distribution process.

Option 2 – Linked XLS sheets in PPT

Users can create a standard report book in IBM PA for XLS (PAFE) that can be refreshed on-demand as the content changes. That book can be used as basis for graphs and tables that are embedded into PPT. This way the PPT can be updated by refreshing the XLS and linked objects automatically every time the content changes in IBM PA. This integration is somewhat manual, however with a proper setup of the XLS book it can be pretty seamless. Most importantly, this options provides the most flexibility to users who can be pretty self-sufficient in creating the respective XLS retrieves and links to PPT without the need to work within the constraints of any tools. It will allow the user complete autonomy in formatting and designing the PPT content with data linked to IBM PA and any additional narrative and other content

Option 3 – Download of dashboards to PPT

A hybrid between the two above options, users can create views and dashboards in IBM PA Workspace (PAW) and export them into PPT (standard feature) as pictures / static objects. They can then further manipulate PPT to add formatting and other narrative content. This option will provide limited integration as the PAW objects are exported as pictures and would have to be re-pasted after changes in data but it is an option that may be of use in some instances depending on the use case

Scenario B: Customers that have IBM Cognos Analytics or use both IBM CA and IBM PA

There are additional integration and process options that are available in IBM CA. For combined environments where the required data resides in IBM PA, the required reports, content and visualization can be built in IBM CA using IBM PA as data source, which will facilitate a fully automated and seamless update of the required data. Once that is done, the PPT integration options are the following:

Option 4 – Leverage IBM Cognos Analytics for MSFT Office

A standard integration option, it allows direct integration of IBM CA graphs, tables and other objects into MSFT PPT. The content is created in IBM CA as standard tables, pages or dashboards. These can then be embedded into PPT and subsequently formatted to match the PPT design. The objects are automatically refreshed / updated when the report runs, which can be triggered by opening the PPT. Users can still add content and narrative to PPT outside of the IBM CA objects. This is probably the best and most automated integration option that is available. However the user is dependent on the IBM CA tables and graphs and as such it may be perceived as less flexible compared to Options 5 or Option 2 above given the flexibility of XLS.

Option 5 – Embedded XLS in PPT using CA

Similar to Option 2 above, this entails retrieving data from IBM CA into XLS using the IBM Cognos Analytic for Excel interface and embedding the tables to support PPT objects. Alternatively, CA can output any report as an Excel sheet, which can be sent to a network drive (the routine can be scheduled), the Excel sheet can be linked from there into PPT. This approach does not require the CA for Office plug-in but might need manual refresh. This is the equivalent of option 2 above for those who do not use IBM PA, generally the same considerations would apply

Option 6 – IBM CA Stories

A relatively new feature in IBM CA, Stories allow users to create a very slick presentation content using live data in the system with various playback and animation capabilities. This is similar to Option 1 above, however Stories In IBM CA provide more flexibility and a more complete set of features than what is available in IBM CA. They allow for notation and navigation / drill down into live CA objects. This option would assume a change in business process in that consumers of information would rely on live content presented directly in the system vs via PPT, which may or may not be an possibility depending on the exact use case

As is always the case, which option is right in a particular scenario depends on the exact user requirements and other considerations that are specific to every customer.

Topics: IBM Cognos, IBM Planning Analytics, IBM Cognos Analytics