One of the key reasons why DataSkill recommends IBM solutions, is their commitment to investing
in products. This continuous development brings new software versions – providing new
capabilities and enhancements to improve the performance, productivity, and security of the
software. IBM’s Passport Advantage Software Subscription and Support plan allows access to the
latest editions of the software, while cloud users benefit from software updates automatically.
So, I was excited to hear from Mike McGeein, who leads the IBM Planning Analytics Product
Management Team and Bill Primerano, the Principal Worldwide Data and AI Technical Specialist at
IBM, at the IBM Business Analytics Launch in October. They hosted a short session to share the
investments that IBM are making with IBM Planning Analytics with Watson. Their key focus
throughout being in providing a highly flexible, customizable and easy to use experience for end
Some of the areas that they have most recently been working on include:
- New cube viewer
- Enhanced Dashboard or Books experience
- Newly designed Planning Analytics Modeling Workbench
- Planning Analytics (PA) Plans and Apps – Contribution Mode
- PA Advance Analytics – Watson Timeseries Engine
- PA Advance Analytics – Decision Optimization Integration
Let’s take a look at some of these developments in more detail.
New Cube Viewer
The team started off with a look at Planning Analytics Workspace, which is the high-performance
web interface that is designed to handle planning analysis and scenarios along with AI. It offers users
an all in one experience. Within this they developed the new cube viewer – a highly customizable
widget, with an emphasis on performance and responsiveness. The premise behind this was to
allow end users to customize the experience they want based data they are working with. The new
cube viewer delivers a new set editor, with a focus on the ability to see side by side graphical
representations and the textural format mdx representation. In addition, they have added enhanced
filter options that allow you to just select the members that you want to include in sets. You can
now create multiple filters allowing you to go through different areas of the hierarchy and decide
what you want to include in your sets. Additionally, you can check on the relevant attributes to
compose your set – since these attributes can help you understand how you want to create sets.
IBM have also revamped the conditional formatting options to simplify the experience.
Building on customer feedback, requesting the ability to build very graphical interfaces, Dashboards
have a copy and paste function that allow you to: paste text; paste media; paste URLs; paste from a
file system; and paste from the snip tool directly into your workspace experience. This can then be
used to provide a backdrop for your information. The book can be saved as a template for either
personal use or be shared within the organization.
Planning Analytics Modeling Workbench
Planning Analytics Modeling Workbench is a dedicated environment for modelers. The team has
worked to provide the ability to pop out windows in separate boxes, allowing you to look at content
side by side as you’re designing your models. IBM’s goal is to provide the end user with complete
control and ease of use. You can search for your models and search for objects within the models.
You can even administrate your TI ODBC datasources within Planning Analytics Workspace. There is
no need to update cubes anymore – simply select connections within the Modeling Workbench.
PA Plans & Apps – Contribution Mode
With Contribution Mode, Analysts have now the ability to create their own plans. A plan can now
have multiple owners. You decide who participates in the plan – this can be specified using
groups/or users/or both. You can create public steps in the plan using the everyone group. Mike
McGeein calls it “putting the planning in Planning Analytics”.
PA Advance Analytics – Watson Timeseries Engine.
Planning Analytics has the ability to bring in embedded AI capabilities using the new Watson
Timeseries Engine. Use Watson to help you look at your business, the trends the history and then
use that to project forward. You don’t need to be an expert in different models as the AI can be
used to select forecasting models. As a user you can then review the selected forecasting model –
you are able to that the solution has found the best fit because it provides an explanation. You can
also check if your data contains any outliers – the planner has the decision as to whether they want
to include/exclude outliers. You can easily compare the results and see how adjusting outliers
impacts the accuracy of the forecast.
PA Advance Analytics – Decision Optimization Integration
IBM have also been working on the integration between IBM Planning Analytics and Decision
Optimization (DO) within IBM Cloud Pak for Data. You can now take assets from Planning Analytics
and move it to Decision Optimisation. A data scientist can then use the assets to create a DO model
using Python. Once the model is deployed Planning Analytics can then execute it (using what’s called
an AI job process). The data that controls the optimization can be updated live and action buttons
used to run the optimization. The data analyst can tweak the parameters and run the model as many
times as needed.
Ease of use is often quoted as one of the key benefits of the IBM Planning Analytics solution, as you
can see from the above, IBM are committed to creating the best end user experience possible. Look
out for further blogs to keep up with the latest updates on IBM Planning Analytics and other IBM
Join our IBM Analytics 101 Webinar to find out more about IBM Planning Analytics.