Cognos Dashboard Best Practices: Optimize Your Analytics

What is Cognos?

IBM Cognos is a BI (Business Intelligence) tool for web-based analytics and reporting. This enterprise-based tool offers several features to perform data aggregation and develop user-friendly detailed reports.

IBM Cognos Analytics dashboard offers analysis, modeling, reporting, exploration, stories, and event management such that you can understand your company’s data and make informed decisions.

Cognos Dashboard Best Practices

This guide shows you the basics of creating a Cognos Dashboard. Below are some Cognos reporting dashboard best practices to give your dashboard a long life.

1. Creating a Cognos Dashboard

A dashboard helps users monitor activities or events by offering valuable analysis and insights about your company’s data on one or more screens or pages.

  • IBM Cognos Analytics offers templates that include predefined grid lines and designs for easy alignment and arrangement of the visualizations.

  • You can build your Cognos dashboard to design the layout you require for your business objectives.

  • You can drag data directly onto a visualization to rapidly set up a visualization.

  • If the administrative team connects Cognos Analytics to Slack or allows email sharing, you can send Cognos Analytics dashboard content and report to other employees. You can share the content through embedded HTML in web pages or URL links. You can save your content as an exported PDF document for Cognos Dashboard.

2. Exploring your Data

Through down columns, drilling up, and interactive title, you can explore the data, which is shown in a visualization.

  • The data tray represents all the columns and rows you can analyze.

  • Apply focus mode to increase the visualization size to review chart content rapidly.

  • You can select, view details, and perform tasks on a data point.

  • To gain a broader perspective, explore your data at different levels.

3. Visualizations

You can change the columns applied to the visualization and visualization type.

  • Forecasting enables time series data modeling and forecasts depending on data available in corresponding visualizations.

  • IBM Cognos Dashboard offers users several recommended visualizations depending on the data they are dealing with.

  • You can repeat a visualization for every specified column or row member.

  • Adding a title to any visualization adds clarity.

4. Adding a Schematic to a Cognos Dashboard

Schematics refers to visualizations that can map data directly onto an arbitrary graphic representation—for example, seating arrangements, schematic geographical representations, mechanical drawings, or floor plans.

You can improve IBM Cognos Dashboard schematics through the region or point information. They help to add a layer on the schematics to display the additional information.

5. Pinning

Pins are used to hoarding insights from your stories and Cognos dashboards. With Cognos Analytics, you can select various items in a view and then add every item to your collection of pins simultaneously.

  • You can group items in a view and then add a group of items as one pin to your existing collection of pins.

  • You can add visualizations using a widget from your pins.

6. Widgets

Widgets refer to any item on a Cognos dashboard, such as prompts, summaries, visualizations, shapes, text, web pages, and media.

  • Enhance the feel and look of your dashboard by adding shapes and images.

  • Adding video or audio adds action to your dashboard.

  • By adding text to dashboards, you can reinforce your analysis. For instance, you can highlight significant areas visible in visualization and offer background information.

  • IBM Cognos Analytics for Jupyter Notebook enables adding a Notebook widget to a Cognos dashboard or story.

7. Filters

You can use several methods to filter the data in a visualization.

  • You can keep or eliminate data points in the visualization. Data trays are used to filter the data in several columns.

  • You can add a column in Canvas and use it as a widget for filtering data. This is known as a context filter.

  • You can filter data in the current data, which appears in all visualizations of the Cognos dashboard.

  • You can even delete filters from stories, dashboards, or a visualization.

8. Sorting

Cognos dashboard enables sorting data in ascending or descending order, either in the x-axis or y-axis, based on the data type in an axis.

  • You can create a custom sort order which is not governed by the data and does not need any calculation.

  • Know how various items are ranked by sorting the data from the highest number to the lowest and vice versa. For instance, you can view the profit margin for every product line from the most profitable to the least.

  • Sort your data in alphabetical order using the Cognos dashboard.

9. Formatting

You can customize your dashboard by changing its visual properties.

  • You can change colors or visual themes in a dashboard, widgets, or visualization.

  • Adding a shadow or changing the context can enhance the visibility of labels in some visualizations.

  • In pie visualizations, you can change the label orientations on the horizontal axis or the label format.

  • When several items on the canvas share a value or category, you can use the color consistency developed features to manage the visualization color to match each other automatically.

  • You can hide or show the space between sections of the data points in some visualizations. This is known as padding.

  • Format text in a table or crosstab to customize the font family, size, alignment, styles, and color.

  • Data Properties: You can modify the look of data in an asset like the column heading or how it is aggregated.

  • You can modify the data format type and specify its properties from the source panel.

  • Data caching on the browser or server-side enhances performance.

  • You can format how numeric data is aggregated or summarized. IBM Cognos Analytics with Watson assigns a default aggregation form to numerical columns when a data asset is imported.

10. Forecasting

IBM Cognos Analytics forecasting enables you to model and discover trends, seasonality, and time dependence in data.

  • Forecasting is allowed in column, bar, and line visualizations.

  • Forecasting allows time series data forecasts and modeling depending upon data in visualizations.

  • Exponential smoothing models are famous time series class models.

  • You can change your forecasts by deciding upon a set of period and confidence level options available in the forecast dialog box.


The guide discusses several best practices for creating effective Cognos dashboards, such as adding schematics, applying filters or sorting, using appropriate visualizations, forecasting data for analytics, and much more. Additionally, the guide emphasizes optimizing the dashboard to ensure it meets your business requirements and effectively communicates insights to your stakeholders.


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