Just a quick note. There is a new version of the iPad app for Cognos 10 available. As expected, the new version contains a few fixes and enhancements. The biggest improvement, however, is the ability to open up Active Reports directly from email attachments.
In case you have not noticed, you can also enter a default server address in the app settings.
Mobile BI is hot. No wonder that the new IBM Cognos iPad app has been getting a lot attention. My initial review from a few days ago was quite popular (Thanks for spreading the word!). The same is true for the quick report about Cognos 10 on the iPhone. It’s been pretty hectic since then, but I finally had some time to sit down and play with the app a bit more over the past two days. In particular, I wanted to check out the online capabilities. One of the great things about the app is that you can use it offline and online – truly a mobile BI solution.
COGNOS iPAD APP ONLINE
Connecting to my Cognos 10 server was straight forward. I just entered the regular server URL, user ID and password. The app connected without a glitch. All my folders were immediately accessible and I was able to browse through the content using the regular iOS gestures. Instead of browsing you can also perform a search: Click on the magnifying glass, enter a search term and the app will return the relevant objects.
DASHBOARDS IN ACTION
The server I was working with is used to run the extremely popular IBM Business Analytics Experience workshop. I chose a bunch of reports and dashboards that were developed to run on a regular PC. The iPad app loaded them without hesitation and they looked just as beautiful if not better than on a regular laptop screen.
Reviewing the charts and tables is a lot of fun on the iPad. What I enjoyed best though, is the ability to interact: put your finger on a certain data point in a chart and the app will provide the according value in a small bubble. If you want some additional info, just click on the little i icon in the bubble and you will get additional context.
DRILL DOWN/ UP
Drilling up and down is just as simple as well. Put your finger on a data point and select drill down/ up. It’s easy and intuitive. Much better than a mouse click.
Getting connected to the Cognos server was easy. All I need was the standard URL, user name and password. It didn’t take any time at all. My regular desktop content worked well on the iPad just like on the iPhone. We did not have to do any kind of re-coding or re-formatting for the iPad (I ran 11 different dashboards). Navigation was intuitive and working with the mobile BI content is a lot of fun. There is something cool and magic about touching your data – a phenomenon that many of us have noticed – let’s call it the “iPad goggles”…
If you have not had a chance to see the app, make sure to download it from the iTunes app store.
Just a quick post for today. It’s been a super busy week with stops in Barcelona, Munich and London. While sitting in the lounge in Munich, I was delighted to see that the IBM Cognos MobileiPad app had been approved for the Apple iTunes store. A perfect opportunity to download it and test the offline capabilities at 33000ft cruising altitude. (I cannot wait to take the the app online this weekend!)
CLEAN AND SIMPLE
Once our plane had taken off, I pulled out my iPad and launched the app. European flights do not have WIFI, yet. But the app does support offline content. And so I was sitting there in seat 5D somewhere above Frankfurt and was able to test some of the dashboards and reports. Being able to work offline is a huge advantage, from my point of view. I have personally encountered so many situations where the wireless network was either poor or simply not accessible. But back to the Cognos app: The initial impression is excellent. The interface is nice and clean. It does not take any time at all to get up and running. Navigation is intuitive and all the usual finger movements (swiping, pointing etc.) work flawlessly.
A few months ago, I sat right next to a guy on a plane. Once we were up in the air, he pulled out a big stack of paper reports. He equipped himself with a ruler, a marker, a pencil and a calculator. All that on the tiny fold-down table in economy class. Didn’t look like fun. But to be fair, most planes still do not offer WIFI and we still have to get our work done. So, what is the alternative to paper reports? PDF is ok, but it is impossible to interact with the data. Excel is ok, too. But Excel is not secure and potentially too complicated. And none of these options are suited for building effective management dashboards.
OFFLINE MANAGEMENT DASHBOARDS
What can we do then? IBM introduced IBM Cognos Active Report with the latest Cognos 10 release. It basically allows report authors to develop interactive management dashboards and reporting applications for offline use.