The Combined Value of IBM Cognos and PureData System for Analytics

By Rich Hughes,

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that has weathered the test of time.  Other than noting this blog runs only about 600 words, the old saying captures the essence of modern visualization where complex data sources and entity interactions can be meaningfully refined into a single picture.  And now there are better ways to convert your data analysis into the most effective visual representation.  IBM Cognos® is quite helpful in this regard, providing the RAVE system, a platform which enables business users to develop appealing data graphics.

IBM’s Rapidly Adaptive Visualization Engine (RAVE) requests input and interaction from the user on how the graphical picture should look.  Based on IBM patented technology and concepts outlined in Wilkinson’s The Grammar of Graphics, RAVE produces the best visualization for the described circumstances. One could think of RAVE as a user productivity tool, and as an extension of the IBM Cognos Business Intelligence (BI) basic charter: insulating the business user from the nitty gritty of both SQL optimization and maximizing performance from relational databases.

For data to be useful, business users must feel comfortable working with integrated business data like finance, sales, product, and marketing entities.  Becoming routine is the further interweaving of social media, demographic, and competitor information to gain a complete view of one’s customer base.  The IBM® PureData™ System for Analytics is the appliance standard for simply delivering this type of integrated data warehouse.

IBM Cognos®, combined with PureData System for Analytics, provides leading business intelligence and enterprise scalability for reporting, interactive analysis, scorecards, and dashboards. As hinted earlier, IBM Cognos® out-of-the-box, supplies 25 data visualization graphics like Treemap, Waterfall, and Bubble charts.  IBM Cognos® will push these stunning business intelligence images out to mobile devices. IBM Cognos BI exploits Netezza analytic in-database functions, and improves upon the PureData System for Analytics by adding in-memory and caching techniques on top of fast appliance performance.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) is a great example of leveraging both Cognos and PureData System for Analytics.  Serving nearly 3,000,000 members from its Boston headquarters, BCBSMA uses this technology to imbed analytics into their day-to-day processes for a wide range of decision makers.  PureData System for Analytics fits the bill for a fast performing, centralized data warehouse by creating health informatics cubes in around six hours, an improvement of about 500%. This speed advantage enabled Cognos BI queries to deliver cubes with more dimensions, which thereby answered more business questions.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts medical directors are now able to ascertain different disease category levels at participating hospitals.  Using current and historical data, trends are spotted—providing the opportunity to actively intervene.  Benefits and care management can be designed based on this data analysis:  members with high cholesterol needed, and got help with specific programs aimed at reducing their risk of developing more serious heart problems.  Data driven decisions, a more informed and involved business community, and better health outcomes for its members are significant results from BCBSMA utilizing IBM Cognos® and PureData System for Analytics.

More information on the IBM® PureData™ System for Analytics N3001 family can be viewed at this LINK.    Included with the IBM PureData System for Analytics N3001, which was announced for General Availability on October 17, 2014, are IBM Cognos® Business Intelligence 10.2.1 software entitlements for five analytics user licenses and one analytics administrator license; these licenses can then be used when the IBM® PureData System for Analytics N3001 is your analytics data source. Particulars on Cognos combined with PureData System for Analytics will be found HERE, while Cognos BI details can be located at this URL.  A fuller treatment of the BCBSMA technology can be found on this link: BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts . The IBM® PureData™ System for Analytics N3001 is again changing the game for data warehouse appliances.

Figure 1: A Waterfall chart shows cumulative effects of values over time.
Figure 1: A Waterfall chart shows cumulative effects of values over time.
Figure 2: Treemaps reveal exceptions and patterns using size and color.
Figure 2: Treemaps reveal exceptions and patterns using size and color.

About Rich Hughes,

Rich Hughes is an IBM Marketing Program Manager for Data Warehousing.  Hughes has worked in a variety of Information Technology, Data Warehousing, and Big Data jobs, and has been with IBM since 2004.  Hughes earned a Bachelor’s degree from Kansas University, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Kansas State University.  Writing about the original Dream Team, Hughes authored a book on the 1936 US Olympic basketball team, a squad composed of oil refinery laborers and film industry stage hands. You can follow him on @rhughes134


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