Insight 2015 recap

Well, it’s already / finally over and I must say I’m very impressed. I didn’t expect anything close to what it was for me: I met heaps of great people, learned a lot of new things and had a few long nights out ) I also got a massive cold so I’m spending the last day painting the town lying in the bed typing this.

This conference was full of new announcements and they’ll be covered in a lot of details everywhere (including by us in PMsquare webinars, sign up), so I won’t write the whole book, just main notes and takeaways.

Overall:
– Cloud is finally here and it’ll stay. All products are switching to cloud-first development and then features will be back-propagated to on-premises releases. This is quite new & interesting and would be quite a challenge in bandwidth-starved Australia.
– As usual, IBM renames all the products to make things interesting. And as before they will use the same word for everything. Remember ‘Insight’, anyone? Well, now it’s ‘Analytics’, so Cognos BI becomes ‘Cognos Analytics’, TM1 (on Cloud) becomes ‘Planning Analytics’ and Watson becomes ‘Watson Analytics’. Looking forward to googling product related issues or helping customers with their ‘Analytics’ problems )
– Continuing heavy commitment and investment in ‘Analytics’ area, all products are on the fore-front of development. This means a lot of new things to learn, but also a continued future and many useful features coming along

Cognos BI project ‘Titan’ / Cognos Analytics:
– New Cognos Connection. I think it hasn’t changed an bit since ReportNet days and finally it’ll look more modern (ribbons and burger menus, anyone?) and will work on all devices. At the moment I actually try to avoid showing the Connection to wide audiences by creating landing pages, maybe I won’t need to do it anymore. Yay!
– Mobile-First. Responsive design and everything tablet accessible and looking slick. At the moment we hard-code css and use report templates everywhere and this will make it not necessary. Double Yay!
– All studios are merged into 1 interface that hides all the Report Studio complexity inside it. This is a great idea but it will be a bit complex to execute. Having a tool that would gradually expand it’s flexibility / complexity as report author masters it is really interesting and promising
– Data exploration and self-service. Same interface can be used to adjust or personalise existing reports and create dashboards / visualisations. I’m quite sceptical here, as I both don’t think that a lot of people need / want self-servicing BI and are willing to learn new tools and that you can build a great data exploration tool without a thick client. Let’s wait and see how this one pans out
– User-driven data modeling. Now you can do the data modeling online and draw your own joins / schema (adding your data files if needed) and system recommends you some ideas based on columns names and existing foreign keys. After years of ‘central logical modeling using Framework Manager is good for data consistency and performance’ mantra I’m not quite ready to let people run their own modeling forays.

TM1 / Planning Analytics:
– TM1 gets a new front-end (we didn’t have enough, right?) that is called Planning Workspace. It was called Prism, but renamed for quite obvious reasons ) This studio will allow you to create dashboards & visualisations and user entry screens. Imagine correctly executed Cognos Insight in the web and you’ve got Prism ) You can embed web sheets and even Watson Analytics components (i.e. automated time series forecast) in the same ‘workspace’. In the long run all the development should also happen in this interface, so it’s a quite ambitious goal of replacing a whole host of existing tools (Architect, PM, TM1Web, TM1 Applications). In the end we should have only 2 tools for TM1: Planning Workspace and CAFE. These 2 is exactly what you get with TM1 on the cloud / Planning Analytics . Colour me very sceptical on this one (we’ve heard the same about Performance Modeller and Cognos Insight, but they haven’t replaced a lot :) )
– TM1 on the cloud / Planning analytics. ODBC drivers to on-premises data sources and all the required data retention certifications — this is all getting very real.
– CAFE finally catches up with perspectives, we are getting Action buttons and Active Forms + most of the Perspectives formulas will work in CAFE. This is big, all the simple existing reports should ‘just work’ with CAFE and it’ll finally let us switch from Citrix in WAN environments. Yay!
– TM1Web gets way faster. Scrolling and working with large datasets are now vastly improved by background loading and browser caching. A lot of work previously done by TM1Web server is now done in client’s browser, making everything smoother and faster. Double yay, I was really impressed on the demos.
– TM1 Engine. The most impressive part for me, saved for the last, truly amazing stuff to come. MTQ for feeders, hot standby’s (new replication tool that will work), less locking, attribute hierarchies and *whispers* feederless calculation engine. Cubic yay!

Our session:
– I loved the discussions afterwards and looking forward for some follow-ups, good to see some other pharma’s following the same route :)
– Slides are just here:

That’s probably it and I’ll start packing for my long haul back down under. It was great and I hope to be back next year!

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