Cognos Analytics with Watson

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How to use your CA AI Assistant? (And how can it be your co-pilot?)

By Rodrigo de Andrade posted Wed May 18, 2022 10:49 AM


One of the main challenges of all analytics and BI tools is to be user-friendly for people of different skills and roles. To create a universal and self-service business analytics environment is a continuous commitment to Cognos Analytics with Watson. It is, in fact, to democratize technology and to allow that any user to be able to work with data in a smarter and faster way.

One of the amazing features built into Cognos to make its users' lives easier is the Cognos AI Assistant. This powerful assistant not only saves your time but can also help you with tasks that you might not even know how to do by yourself, especially when you are not very familiar with Business Analytics solutions. You definitely have a Co-pilot, able to interpret your requests in natural language and bring what you are asking

Have you ever tried to use the CA AI Assistant? Do you know how it can be useful to you?

Here are some good examples of things you can ask your AI co-pilot to do:

Create a Dashboard

 Let's suppose you have a database, but you don't know what information would be relevant to build your dashboard. You can just ask the assistant to create a dashboard and it will create a dashboard for you based on the currently selected data source.

Note that you didn't have to specify what information you would like to see or in which columns to find it. You simply asked for a dashboard and the assistant created one with the information it deems relevant and you may or may not use it.


Ask Questions

To create a dashboard like that is amazing, however, what would be the value of a virtual assistant in an Analytics solution if I couldn't use it to get quick answers without having to waste time looking for them?


With Filters

You can ask questions and use filters, for example:

  • How was the sales last year? (Or you can ask in other ways, e.g. "Show me sales for last year")
  • Show me lost cases in Toronto


Note that you asked and already specified the filter (last year and Toronto in the examples above)

With Break Down

You can also break the answer down:

  • How was the sales last year by month
  • Show me lost cases in Toronto by product

When I simply add "by" I can divide my result by this (by month and by product in the examples above)

Using time entities

 A new feature introduced in CA 11.2.2 is the ability to use temporal expressions. Now the assistant understands expressions related to holidays and time expressions. See some examples:


  • Show profit from last Christmas by product
  • What is the margin from last summer by product type
  • What is the average sales over the past 3 weeks?

Using Filters

 Another nice improvement on CA assistant in 11.2.2 release is the ability to understand modifiers and operators to ask questions like:


  • What are the top 5 products last year by profit?

Other examples of operators and modifiers you can use are: 

  • in
  • for
  • if
  • whew
  • with
  • including
  • excluding
  • greater than
  • less than
  • top
  • bottom


Defining Synonyms

An interesting and not widely known feature of CA Assistant is the possibility to define synonyms for your columns. With this functionality, you can explain to CA Assistant that when you write a certain word it can interpret it as a specific column.


See the example below:

I asked the CA assistant to show me the sales results for last year by SKU. The assistant said it didn't know what "SKU" means.

When I look to my datasource, I can see that I have "Product" that could be what I want in this question.

So I want to explain to my assistant that when I type SKU I want, in my context, to say "product". To create a field synonym, you should enter show <synonym>, followed by <synonym> means <field_name>:

Now I can use the word SKU as a synonym for Product:

Easy, isn't it? When you learn to use your CA assistant to its full potential it becomes your true co-pilot
1 comment



Tue May 31, 2022 11:28 AM

Hi Rodrigo,

This is a nice and powerful feature, I love it!

However, it is disappointing to have the month names sorted alphabetically. Customers might argue that there is no AI when you read : April, August, December, February. We should have January, February, March and so on.

Best regards,

Patrick Neveu