Post: A Review of Author Sanjeev Datta’s IBM Cognos Insight

IBM Cognos Insight, by Sanjeev Datta.  Published 2012 by Packt Publishing.

IBM Cognos Insight by Sanjeev Datta Over the past couple of days, I have had the pleasure to review IBM Cognos Insight by Sanjeev Datta of PerformanceG2.  I was very excited to learn of this book, not only because I wanted a better understanding of Cognos Insight software, but also because Sanjeev Datta is clearly one of the thought leaders in Business Analytics.  So I picked up the book with exceedingly high expectations, and I laid it down with no disappointments. Datta’s IBM Cognos Insight is a very clear and concise jump start to utilizing Cognos Insight software.  I don’t recall ever before reading a technical book that spans a mere 120 pages, yet still manages to fully meet its stated purpose.  It is impressive, and Mr. Datta should be proud of this accomplishment.

IBM describes Cognos Insight as, “a personal analytics solution that empowers users to independently explore, analyze, visualize and share data without relying on IT for assistance.”  It is clear that IBM is targeting this product at the sophisticated business analyst.  It is also clear that some modest instruction on the tool will yield a high ROI for these users. This book provides that instruction for these business users and ensures that they can use this tool in an effective manner.

The book opens with a quick introduction to business analytics and specifically the IBM Cognos product portfolio, but the author does not dally in this area or get drawn into an extended discussion of the overall business analytics landscape.  He does explain how (and why) Cognos Insight fits into IBM’s product tapestry.  The following chapter walks the reader through the various flavors of Cognos Insight (personal edition versus standard edition) and how to download and install Cognos Insight.

The main meat of the book starts in chapter three.  Chapter three is a tutorial on navigation and usability.  Here Datta does a very nice job of weaving a few basic OLAP concepts into a simple instructional manual on how to use Cognos Insight which should make Cognos Insight accessible to all users regardless of background.  The chapter is stuffed with screenshots and examples; hence, it is very easy to follow and like the rest of the book is a very quick read.

Chapter four is my personal favorite.  Here Datta uses an example dataset (provided with the book) and walks his reader through doing a full analysis for a hypothetical company.  He shows how to use Cognos Insight to reach strategic decisions for the business.  I am hesitant to substitute my judgment for the author’s, but I would suggest you read this chapter before chapter 3.  Many readers may be able to skim chapter one, use chapter two to get Cognos Insight installed, and then jump into chapter 4.  This would provide an exceedingly fast start on the tool.  You could then return to chapter three to round out your knowledge.

Datta closes with a nice discussion on how to use Cognos Insight in an enterprise environment.  He shows how to use the “personal analytics” tool to collaborate with others and how to integrate it with other tools in the Cognos lineup.  This knowledge will be essential to anyone working in a large corporate environment, but I would save it until you have exhausted the learning from chapters three and four.

As I said in the open, I think this is an excellent work. If you are providing Cognos Insight to your business analysts, you should seriously consider providing this book as well.

You can purchase IBM Cognos Insight at Follow Sanjeev on twitter

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