Here a studio, there a studio, everywhere a studio!
IBM Cognos Business Intelligence has a Studio for every job and using the right tool or Studio is the best way to have a smooth experience with Cognos Business Intelligence suite. Some reporting and information gathering can be done in any of the Studios so the choice typically is the Studio that one knows the best – when you have a hammer all the data looks like nails. But for all of the nuts and bolts of the information out there it is helpful to know which tool is the right tool.
Report Studio is the top level tool with all of the bells and whistles. Reports can be made against dimensional data sources or relational data sources and all sorts of complex functions and multiple lists, charts and crosstabs can be used within one report. This Studio is typically used by the developers creating standard reports where formatting requirements are specific or complex reports with multiple pages and complex formatting. This is the tool of choice for the developer creating one standard report for multiple users.
Once you get past the complex reports or the very specific formatting that’s needed in Report Studio the determining factor for tool choice is based on the process of either ‘Query then Analyze’ or ‘Analyze then Query’. Do you know what information you need so you can Query the data and then Analyze it to find what you need? Or will it be a process of you need to find out what’s going on and then you’ll know the right question to ask in an Analyze then Query fashion?
If you know what you are looking for and the importance is in getting the data quickly then turn to Query Studio. This is where you know what you want to report on and you just need the information without worrying about exactly how it will fit to a printed page or how many lines exactly will show up on each page. Query Studio is great at answering these quick questions, but only one question at a time. The complexities can be left to Report Studio while the quickness is in Query Studio. This is typically the studio that business users will be using to the point where they’ll be so comfortable here that they’ll know more about it than most of the developers. Query Studio is the tool for Query then Analyze functionality. The greatness and the downfall of Query Studio lies in it’s simplicity. It’s easy to pick up with a quick tutorial you can be off and running for all of the queries you have, but when it comes to moving beyond simplicity into areas such as creating an ‘IF’ statement within the report this has to be done in Report Studio, or if it’s a standard IF statement then it can be put into the Framework Manager model and used as any other data item.
Analysis Studio doesn’t solve the issue with IF statements but it is the tool of choice for the alternative: Analyze then Query type of process. This is, to put it simply, for Analysis. When users are analyzing their business and looking for more information, they don’t have the query already formed in their mind but they want to be on top of whatever is happening then Analysis Studio is the place to go. Here is where you start off by seeing the big picture, with all of the numbers summarized so you can see sales for all regions or inventory for all regions or maybe the total headcount of all employees across the organization, but you start with that big picture. Then in a fashion of ‘Analyze then Query’ you have the ability to drill down into more information. If the numbers look particularly high or low for a given time period or a given region you can click and drill down on that area and find out all the details about this number and what’s necessary to take the next step of action. Beyond the method of working with the information the data sources are also important when choosing a tool. The Analyze then Query functionality is only available with dimensionally modeled data sources where the data is easily summed up along hierarchies and then can be drilled down to see more detail. When the data is not organized in nice hierarchies but is relational then Analysis Studio cannot be used. This is easy to determine as Analysis Studio will only give you the option of opening dimensionally modeled data sources.
So which studio is the right one: to put it generally Report Studio for complex reports, Query Studio for quick answers to queries already in mind and Analysis Studio for quick analysis and further digging. Having said that, my tool of choice is still Analysis Studio, this is the one that really puts the Performance in Performance Management and the Intelligence in Business Intelligence (BI). The other Studios have a lot of value in their areas, but this is the real power of BI; finding the information that business users were not expecting and being able to further query that data to find out more about it.