How IBM Cognos Analytics Can Ask “What if…?”

Posted on Tuesday 17th April 2018 2:21

IBM Cognos Analytics What If...?

Business Intelligence software is now mandatory for organisations who want to enjoy strategic and profitable growth. BI is the only way to support and sustain lean and agile operating systems. However, company growth doesn’t just come from better efficiency. Successful organisations have vision. They also have the confidence to innovate and take well thought out risks. Can business inspiration rely on having the right data analytics tools too? This article looks at how IBM Cognos Analytics What if…? queries can help.

BI And “Out Of The Box” Thinking

IBM Cognos Analytics is a great launch pad for business discussions and thinking that includes a “What if…?” Businesses that thrive on innovation are constantly looking for new product or service ideas, or a new market to go after. In that case, probably the last thing you need is an ocean of information to plough through. Or a complicated piece of software with whistles and bells.

When inspiration is one of your driving business needs, having a centralised, easy to use business dashboard helps cut through data quickly. For example, you can use IBM Cognos to design and create your own intuitive BI dashboard. Configure it to provide the sort of autonomous and simple to access analytics that is your specific “food for thought”. Be warned though, not all BI offerings have this “self-service” flexibility and versatility.

Team Inspiration And Collaboration

Inspired and inspirational companies know the importance of unlocking the creativity and motivation of their team. Some of your potentially profitable “What if…?” leads may come from anywhere in your team. They need a tool readily available to explore and share ideas. This is another reason why choosing the right BI system is crucial. For example, IBM Cognos Analytics provides quick access to information via its drag and drop dashboard, that any user on any device can easily navigate. They can hop on for either enterprise-wide reporting or to “dip in” to specific areas of interest or concern. As it is web or Cloud-based, users can then report, share and collaborate on their ideas instantly. You need never miss a good idea again!

For Data You Didn’t Know You Needed

You can hit a brick wall in your innovation. Creativity can dry up. This is another time when data analytics can become your “new best friend.” For example, IBM Cognos Analytics is particularly adept at drilling down on data and uncovering information your organisation may have previously had limited access to. In fact, you could end up with insights you didn’t even realise you needed!

Having access to these previously hidden depths and angles can make a big difference in well informed and confident decisions. And for answering the question “What if….?”

IBM Cognos Analytics What if…? – where to find out more

If you would like to know more about how IBM Cognos Analytics could be implemented in your business, please feel free to contact us and we can arrange a consultation to discuss your needs and the power of the software we offer.

Photo: Black this time, a nice change by StartAgain licensed under Creative commons 6

What Makes IBM Cognos Analytics An Award-Winning Software?

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IBM Cognos Analytics

Award-winning IBM Cognos Analytics came out on top after being named the winner in Business Analytics by Computer Reseller News (CRN) magazine’s Annual Report Card. CRN has allowed solution providers across North America to grade their vendors for 32 years as part of their Annual Report Card. There are 22 technology categories for solution providers to score vendors in, and those scores come in three categories – product innovation, support and the quality of partnerships with the vendor.

IBM Cognos Analytics ranked highest in the following categories:

  • The richness of functionality and product features
  • Quality and reliability
  • Technical innovation
  • Product potential and revenue
  • Ease of integration/compatibility

Why did IBM Cognos Analytics do so well?

The majority of enterprises are well-versed in collecting the huge amounts of data on offer, but they need assistance turning this data into insights and leads to be acted upon and distributed throughout the organisation to provide superior business value. This is where IBM Cognos Analytics enters the field.

The software’s self-service solution gives people great tools to work with complex data and make discoveries about what is actually happening with their business. This can lead to the development of more strategic decision-making driven by data. This empowerment has enabled thousands of enterprises globally to swiftly transform data into relevant insights. Within minutes, you can have all you need to produce compelling reports which can be distributed securely and traceable in accordance with corporate policies.

IBM Cognos Analytics trophy cabinet

This isn’t the first major award that has been given to Cognos Analytics. Earlier in 2017, the software was ranked highly by a BARC Score Business Intelligence report. This report analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the most prominent enterprise BI platforms and is a leading think tank for advising in the industry.

The bottom line is that IBM Cognos Analytics is a recommended solution from some of the most trusted and highly regarded authorities in the business world. At Influential Software, we have spent over 25 years implementing data solutions to enterprises in the UK, and IBM Cognos Analytics is one of our go-to options. If you would like to find out how we can help you start to extract priceless insights from the data your business collects, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we can discuss what your specific needs are.

Photo: IBM Business Center by Daniel Voyager licensed under Creative commons 4

The Predictive Powers of IBM® Planning Analytics

Posted on Wednesday 4th April 2018 1:07

IBM Planning Analytics Predictive Powers - team reviewing reports with dashboard and notes

IBM® Planning Analytics can bring predictive powers to your organisation. Planning Analytics offers a comprehensive solution to formulating planning models and generating analytics from the results, constructed on a powerful analytical processing engine that is both in-memory and online.

The IBM Cognos TM1 enterprise planning platform is the foundation, and the planning tool is being used by a growing number of organisations around the world. Through its multidimensional technology, businesses can create complex models easily, and perform analyses of profitability to identify the customers, products and sales channels that are generating the most profit.


Spreadsheet Power

Since a large number of finance professionals work primarily with leading spreadsheet software, IBM® Planning Analytics is designed to have advanced spreadsheet functionality wherever it is necessary. You can take full advantage of the power of spreadsheet formatting and layouts with superb Wide Area Network performance. The latest Planning Analytics release can be deployed on-premise, and boasts the following advanced features:

  • Hierarchy capabilities that facilitate the modelling of specific attributes of hierarchies, enabling advanced granular analysis and simple administration and maintenance of any planning models you devise.
  • Improvements to the interactive analytics workspace, wherein you can design compelling visualisations and custom dashboards.


Predictive Power

IBM Planning Analytics enables you to take advantage of the data analysis and predictive powers and functionality of IBM Watson Analytics. With these powerful tools implemented in your planning process, you can generate automatic predictive insights from the software’s analysis of internal and external information.

The first tools for planning and analysis did little more than automate processes that would otherwise be undertaken manually, but IBM Planning Analytics takes the process a few steps further than that. Through complex agile planning and exploratory analytics processes, you can actively drive your business forward in the way you want things to be done.


IBM Planning Analytics Flavours

And you have several options to choose from with IBM Planning Analytics:

Influential Software has been working for over 25 years with businesses of all sizes to create tailored software solutions that help to grow and increase profitability. Our passion is for technology, and our commitment is to quality, so we only deal with the best software solutions available on the market. If you would like to know more about how IBM Planning Analytics could be implemented in your business, please feel free to contact us and we can arrange a consultation to discuss your needs and the power of the software we offer.


Photo: Business Startup Planning Offers by homethods licensed under Creative commons 4

InfoPath And The Future Of SharePoint Forms

Posted on Tuesday 10th October 2017 12:00

Organisations are currently looking ahead to find viable alternatives for their SharePoint forms solution currently based on InfoPath forms.

Infopath retrofitted in SharePoint

From the start, InfoPath was never built for but rather retrofitted to support SharePoint forms.

Microsoft turned to researching a web-based solution for the design and creation of forms online rather than on a desktop.

InfoPath is generally a great tool for businesses needing to build forms because of its support for basic calculations, external data sources, conditional formatting and custom code.

Over the last decade, SharePoint has outgrown InfoPath, exposing its limitations, especially its XML foundations. First of all, when publishing forms to SharePoint, users can encounter rendering issues, the forms are not mobile friendly and the usability is lagging. For large lists, the publishing process is not stable.

Status of InfoPath and SharePoint forms

The updated guidance from Microsoft is that InfoPath will still be supported until 2026, which is a long time in terms of software technology.

SharePoint 2016 supports InfoPath browser forms. InfoPath 2013 works with SharePoint 2016 InfoPath Forms Services.

InfoPath 2013 is the last version Microsoft will release, and support has been extended until 2026 to match SharePoint 2016 support lifecycle.

Office 365 will support InfoPath browser forms officially until further notice, although they are not working in the mobile view. The browser forms containing code are not supported anymore.

Microsoft provides guidance that the successor to InfoPath is PowerApps, but with some caveats: feature parity with InfoPath is not a goal and InfoPath will still be preferred for some scenarios like offline work or rich XML documents.

Alternatives to InfoPath forms

A common usage scenario for InfoPath customers is to build moderately complex, interactive forms that integrate with SharePoint lists and libraries.

Currently there are not many options available from Microsoft:

  • PowerApps (and Flow)
  • Excel Surveys in Office 365
  • Custom .NET forms in SharePoint

As a result, major players are currently offering powerful alternatives to InfoPath:

  • Nintex Forms
  • K2 SmartForms
  • Formotus


Comparison PROs CONs
PowerApps (and Flow) Runs on every device
Easy to deploy
Bring your own data
Basic workflow offering
Complex in hybrid scenarios
Excel Surveys in Office 365 Easy to extract and transform the data
Accessible to the masses
Not mobile friendly

Not useful for complex forms

No integration with external data sources

Custom .NET forms Highly reusable and extensible
Integrates well with other technologies
Highly customizable
Virtually no implementation constraints
Hard to maintain
Developer knowledge needed
Big learning curve for some InfoPath customers
Nintex Forms Mobile phone/tablet support
Friendly workflows
No code solutions
Web based, drag and drop experience
LOB systems integration missing
Licence and cost implications
K2 SmartForms Low code powerful BPMS
Reusable forms automatically generated from SharePoint lists
Mobile friendly forms
Cost of licences implications
Steep learning curve even for technical staff
Formotus Mobile/touch optimized forms
Seamless migration of InfoPath forms
Rich offer of data store connectors
Basic workflow offering
Licensing costs (as license-months)

The future of SharePoint forms

SharePoint has never been known for having the best user interface, but has provided a platform around which organizations could develop powerful business solutions using forms, workflows, lists and by manipulating the look and feel.

Forms are challenging to design and, with all its advances, the fact remains that SharePoint has a user experience (UX) problem. The developments and news coming out of Microsoft suggest they are focusing on improving the user experience.

Everyone using InfoPath is to some extent concerned about finding a replacement. Need some help? Just ask.

Why Bother Training Staff? How Can You Make It Effective?

Posted on Friday 10th February 2017 2:11

Why Bother Training? Influential Blog on benefits of Staff Training - computer screen showing L plate, graph with questions going down, graph with revenue going up, and Influentials Logo.

A huge number of organisations forget to factor in a training cost to their projects. There is an assumption that ‘people will just pick it up’, perhaps thinking this will save time and money. That may appear true on the monthly balance sheet, but over time your business can pay a far higher price.

Can The Lack Of Training Impact Business?

Consider this, would the world’s number one golfer or tennis star go straight into an important competition or match with new clubs or a new style racket without having tried them out first and practised with them? I very much doubt it.

The performance will suffer, more mistakes are made. This will impact on the result.

It is the same in any business. Just giving your workforce the right tools to do the job won’t magically provide the desired results unless they get the proper training to use them.

The bottom line is, training increases user adoption and improves performance.

If your business invests in new software, upgrades to a more recent version, or even brings in new staff, without training performance will suffer. If you want to both protect the investment and drive results, the most effective way to do that is through timely and efficient training.

SAP - Gold Partner - Official Logo

What Are The Benefits Of Quality Training?

So, what are some of the main reasons behind training your staff?

  • Increased job satisfaction and morale among employees
  • Improved employee motivation and engagement
  • Enhanced efficiency in processes, resulting in financial gain
  • Improved capacity to adopt new technologies and methods
  • Greater innovation in strategies and products
  • Reduced employee turnover and absenteeism
  • Improved skills improve business quality: Results, services or products will improve.

Business Benefits Of Training Can Include:

  • Improved Bottom Line
    Improving efficiency, productivity and profitability will ultimately improve the bottom line.
  • Improved Flexibility, Competitiveness and ability to Adapt
    Just as the latest golf club or racket can give a player the edge, so can new business tools – but if they are not used properly the advantage is lost. Allowing teams to implement new technology correctly not only improves direct results, it increases take-up of new strategies and ideas. Improved ability to embrace new trends and technologies creates better business flexibility. without suffering from skill shortages
  • More opportunities for Business Growth
  • Better customer satisfaction
  • Better internal communication and leadership
  • Less waste and reduced need for external costs

When Do Staff Need Training?

  • New software purchases
  • Upgrading to newer versions of old software
  • Migrating Systems
  • New staff, staff changing teams or promotion to new roles
  • To “pilot”, or test, the operation of a new system
  • When a performance appraisal indicates performance improvement is needed
  • As part of an overall professional development program
  • Succession planning, to help employees be eligible for organisational role change

Now we have in mind the benefits of training and when it may be needed, what is the best way to roll out your training plan?


Different Learning Styles

There are many different ways in which staff learn and we don’t all learn quickly or well by sitting alone with a text book! To ensure staff get the right training to suit their needs, different learning models have been defined to help understand how they learn.

One popular model explains that the vast majority of people fit into 1 of 3 learning styles. These 3 styles are visual learners, audio learners and kinaesthetic learners.

Visual Learner

  • Uses visual objects such as graphs, charts, pictures and likes seeing information
  • Can read body language well and has a good perception of aesthetics
  • Able to memorise and recall various information
  • Tends to remember things that are written down
  • Learns better in lectures by watching

Audio Learner

  • Retains information through hearing and speaking
  • Often prefers to be told how to do things and then summarises the main points out loud
  • Notices different aspects of speaking

Kinaesthetic Learner

  • Likes to use the hands-on approach to learning new material
  • Would rather demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explain it
  • Prefers group work more than others

It is important to ensure when looking for staff training that the course leader fully understands the material and topic, but is also agile in adapting and incorporating different teaching methods into the training to suit.


Targeted Training – Goals And Planning

Now we understand how people learn, the next issue to address is what do they need to know.
Good trainers always answer vital questions when putting a training plan together.

  • What are your training goals for this session?
    • New skills
    • New techniques for old skills
    • Better workplace behaviour
  • Who is being trained?
    • New employees
    • Seasoned employees
    • Upper management
  • What is your training budget?
  • How much time has been allocated for training within your organisation?

All of the above questions should be able to be answered after a detailed Training Needs Analysis has taken place (which we will be covering in our next Training Blog instalment)


Back To School? Rediscover The Classroom

In summary – Business Training for staff is often overlooked, either as a cost or time-saving. However training isn’t just important to any company, it is vital.
The mid and long term business benefits of training drive down costs, boost efficiency and performance, which all improve the bottom line. Staff feel the benefit, engagement rises and turnover drops. Everyone wins.

Identifying the need for training is just the first step. Getting the right training is the real secret to success.

Choose A Training Company With Experience

Not only a breadth and depth knowledge of the course content but also a great ability to understanding the needs and requirements of your staff. It’s why we ensure our course leaders have years of experience under their belts, both using the software and delivering sessions to groups of all sizes, abilities and needs.

Check The Course Has Positive User Feedback

It’s one thing for a business having a great training sales pitch, but it’s another to have proof. It is important to look for training providers that have positive feedback from actual course users.

Influential invite all those who train with us to provide feedback via CourseCheck. An independent 3rd party that allows verified course users to post reviews about the courses they take. So you can be sure that all the good feedback for Influential Training is genuine!

“Excellent course – well delivered.”

Edel M, 27 Jan 2017


There are many delivery styles available to cater for the training needs of your organisation, but based on the learning styles that people have, there is only one that can meet them all in one go.
It’s time to go back to school and rediscover the classroom!

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Contact Influential’s Training Team

Tel: 0207 337 6136

Or complete the form below to arrange a call-back.


The Importance of APIs: Imagine a World Without Them

Posted on Monday 5th December 2016 10:30

What would happen if we woke up tomorrow and APIs simply didn’t exist? We know they’re are a part of modern technological development and disruption, but do we really understand the importance of APIs?

A World Without APIs

Imagine this: the clock strikes midnight and APIs no longer exist.

Off goes your alarm and you reach for your smartphone; Facebook, Twitter and every other social network isn’t working. Your weather app has no information to help you choose the appropriate outfit for the day and Google can’t find any traffic updates to help plan your travel. If you like to browse the morning headlines then you’re out of luck – the news app has gone silent.

Without APIs, we’re left with ‘application islands’ – a world of isolated data and applications that can’t communicate. Without the ‘digital glue’ of APIs to hold systems together, the technologies we have come to expect and rely on simply won’t work… and it doesn’t just stop at social media.

A World Without APIs

Instant messaging applications give way to phone, email or SMS – assuming that none of the back-end systems of your network provider use APIs to deliver their service. Global communication as we know it is gone. Without APIs, any and all services run from remote or cloud-based servers cease to function.

Say goodbye to Youtube, Netflix, FreeSat, Sky+ or Tivo; you’ll have to rely on video entertainment services delivered by cable. Online bookings won’t work; everything from the cinema to flight and rail travel will only be bookable via interaction with a human being.

Application Islands

You can’t check your banking information online anymore; you’ll have to visit a branch for details and an ATM to withdraw cash – again, assuming that ATM back-ends are API-free. Shopping online is a thing of the past – it’s back to physical catalogues and coupons sent via paper post.

We’ll be amazed by how many seemingly safe, non-cloud services fall down because some part of their systems rely on APIs. The standardisation, reuse and global sharing of APIs mean that companies and individuals everywhere leverage them for their business. Processes, services and activities around the world will grind to a halt.

A Future Without APIs

So, what next? Consumer expectation for seamless connectivity and services is a product of APIs. Without them, business strategy will resemble that of 20-30 years ago, when success was dictated by a company’s size and resources.

Organisations worldwide utilise APIs for digital transformation and business growth, adapting to the disruption caused by the 4th Industrial Revolution – disruption that has suddenly stopped. Businesses no longer need to adapt for survival, and those that have failed to keep technologies and processes up-to-date may even be better off.

APIs are a democratiser in business, levelling the playing field so that SMEs and startups can compete with FTSE-100 companies. In our new API-free world, the web-startup from home scenario is no longer possible, and global offerings have to be fundamentally reassessed. The exponential increase in technological development slows to a crawl and businesses growth requires a different kind of innovation – innovation that might be a struggle for many to achieve.

An entire generation of people has grown up with API-powered technologies and services at their fingertips, absorbing information in a totally different way to generations past. The human thought process has evolved; problem-solving now demands the approach of ‘ask Google’ and instant access to information through the internet. This new generation, shouldering the burden of society’s future, will have to learn about technology all over again. It will be a long time before we regain the technological functionality we once had if it ever happens at all.

Why It’s So Important To Understand This

APIs, thankfully, aren’t going anywhere. They’re integral to the way our technologies, society and culture has evolved – which is why businesses can’t afford to ignore them.

APIs are a core part of the disruption in Industry 4.0 and many believe that API-led connectivity is the solution to meeting the increasing demands on IT. A 2016 report about connectivity showed that 91% of business IT decision makers globally have an API strategy in place, or plan to by the end of this year. For the remaining 9%, time is running out to maintain a competitive edge.

There’s no time like now to start forming your API strategy. Need some help? You know who to ask.

Related Articles:

Why Spreadsheet Reporting is Bad for Business

Posted on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 3:30

Just about every business today uses spreadsheets in reporting, despite not being the right tool for the job. In fact, there are several reasons why spreadsheet reporting can be bad for your business and why you should consider the alternatives right now.

Spreadsheet Reporting is Bad for Business

“What’s wrong with spreadsheet reporting?” I hear you ask. Quite a lot, actually.

Spreadsheets are designed primarily as an accounting tool, to digitally represent worksheets. They are not the versatile, multi-purpose solution that all-too-many business professionals mistake them to be.

In fact, businesses’ over-reliance on spreadsheets for processes like reporting is a well-documented problem, with expensive inaccuracies. There are numerous reasons why, but let’s focus on some of the key ones first.

The Problem With Spreadsheets

1. It’s easy to make mistakes.

Spreadsheets rely heavily on manual input, and human error is an obvious element of risk. Various studies over the years show that almost 90% of spreadsheets out there have errors, some creating financial discrepancies of billions – that’s right, billions.

Despite the costliness of potential errors, only a fraction of users are trained or experienced enough to leverage them properly. Those that are trained would know that they’re rarely even the right tool for the job. With such a high margin for error in spreadsheets as a reporting tool, how can you fully trust the answers you’re gathering?

2. They’re a productivity drain.

It’s simply time-consuming having to manually fill out hundreds of little cells, copying and pasting information from one sheet to the other and producing clumsy, ineffectual reports. Duplication of data is a frequent occurrence, requiring yet more time to fix if it’s even spotted at all. For so many companies this sort of process is conducted weekly, meaning a scheduled routine of time-wasting that few can afford.

3. Collaboration is difficult.

In fairness, this has been improved marginally through adoption of cloud-based platforms where you can better maintain a single copy of the spreadsheet – the all important “single version of the truth”. However, even with cloud-based spreadsheets, it’s tricky to govern how users input the data. Who is inputting? When are they inputting? If mistakes are made then there is no ‘paper-trail’ for auditing, and locally-stored and shared spreadsheets are even worse; multiple copies with conflicting input from numerous sources.

4. They’re simply no good for analytics.

Analytics are a vital part of reporting, and spreadsheets offer virtually nothing for this. Critical data gets hidden or lost completely in a mass of rows and columns, with no way to easily translate anything into tangible insights.

Data visualisation is almost impossible with the limited range of chart-building functions that spreadsheet programmes have to offer and without that there’s no way to summarise key data. Examining data from different spreadsheets becomes another manual process and there’s no way to link data from sheet to sheet – a link that is often as important as the data itself.

What’s The Right Tool For Reporting?

So what’s the alternative? The short answer: dedicated, purpose-made software, allowing your spreadsheet software to go back to doing what it does best for your business.

To report on your data it needs to be stored somewhere. The proper way to do this is with a database or data warehouse, not a spreadsheet and indeed not stored away in anything on your local machine. Databases allow for automated integration of data into storage, with the ability to access it on an ad-hoc basis.

Once stored and accessible you can view, manage and visualise your data in dedicated platforms. They range in scale from products such as Cognos Analytics, Microsoft Power BI and SQL Server to Dynistics dashboards and our very own intelligence and reporting platform ATLAS Publishing Intelligence.

Need to exchange data between systems? Instead of exporting and importing CSV files from system to system, why not expose your data to an API? This not only paves the way for frictionless connectivity between your systems, it is the foundation for improved integration with other applications, partners and customers.

All of these tools are configurable and easy to use. You and your teams can customise dashboards, data visualisations and reports to give you the data you actually need, in a fraction of the time, error-free. The benefits to your productivity and business intelligence are well worth the investment to get started and you’ll never regret kicking the spreadsheet addiction to the kerb.

Does your business reporting process need a spreadsheet intervention? It might be time to get help.

Featured Project

Streamlined Reporting for Residential Security Company

Challenge: Manual Reporting Slow & Unreliable

A company specialising in the installation of residential security and alarm systems was in need of an updated reporting solution. Their existing system involved a heavy-duty spreadsheet, with multiple tabs containing all their critical data about customers, sales records, products and sales actions. This data was manually extracted from the spreadsheets for reporting by applying filters across the numerous tabs. This process was time-consuming and didn’t offer the accuracy and reliability that the client needed for business reporting and to assess further sales opportunities.

Solution: Automated Salesforce Reporting System Built

Influential teams worked closely with the client to define the functions the existing spreadsheet and proposed a customised Salesforce  implementation to automate their processes. The bespoke Salesforce instance was built and all data from the spreadsheet was imported. The company now has easy, unified access to their data and host of custom reports that are scheduled to run automatically when needed. Reports can now be generated in a fraction of the time with increased data accuracy, boosting company productivity and offering improved business insights.

Business Success in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Posted on Tuesday 15th November 2016 10:30

The 4th Industrial Revolution is here and for business to survive it must adapt – quickly. To do so we must first understand the ‘Industry 4.0’ disruption; the impact and risk for business, and the necessary change for survival.

4th Industrial Revolution

What is the 4th Industrial Revolution?

‘The 4th Industrial Revolution’ or ‘Industry 4.0’ is a topic that has been picking up momentum in discussion for the past few years – propelled to the forefront of conversation as the focal point of the World Economic Forum earlier in the year.

So what is it? Let’s take a look at the industrial revolutions that have come before:

 Industry 1.0 Icon The 1st Industrial Revolution brought the transformation of labour, from hand-production to water and steam powered machines.
 Industry 2.0 The 2nd Industrial Revolution: The Technological Revolution. The industrialisation of Society connected disparate existing networks, the movement of people and ideas, the electrification of processes and production lines.
 Industry 3.0 The 3rd Industrial Revolution: Manufacturing goes digital. Technologies converge, web-based processes and new robots allow for ultimate customisation and bespoke production.  
 Industry 4.0 The 4th Industrial Revolution marks the blurring lines between the real world and the technological world.

Advances in wearables, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, voice-controlled homes, Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things – all are part of a new wave of ‘cyber-physical’ systems that are changing the playing field.

Human beings are connected to technology, to systems and to each other. The overlap of technology into our personal and professional lines is growing and it’s getting harder to see where one ends and the other begins.

What Does It Mean For Business?

Like any change, the 4th Industrial Revolution means disruption.
New technologies are evolving exponentially, increasing the demand on IT to deliver more, faster. With the old business & operational model, the gap between demand and delivery is going to get wider and wider.

The impact on business is already clear: only 12% of the Fortune 500 firms in 1955 were still in business in 2015. Companies that can’t meet demands will fail and there will be no shortage of competitors to take their place.

Adapt To Survive: Embrace the Disruption

Adaptation is critical, but it isn’t enough to simply react after demand has increased. The best defence is a good offence – businesses that survive will be the ones doing the disrupting.

The key is to act now; to reexamine the way we do business and change the approach to meet demands. This means more than simply digitizing systems as we did during the 3rd industrial revolution.

Industry 4.0 calls for digital transformation; innovation of products, services, the role of IT and the entire operational model. Connectivity is essential which will mean a shift to standardised, reusable assets such as APIs.

Many leading technology companies are already embracing the disruption and we’re thrilled to be partnered with them. Solutions such as MuleSoft’s AnypointPlatform are designed to support frictionless connectivity between systems and applications with API-led connectivity.

Business Intelligence tools such as IBM Cognos Analytics and SAP BusinessObjects offer powerful business insights. This business-critical data is vital for the process of reexamination and laying out the steps towards innovation.

Are you ready to embrace the disruption? Talk to the Influential experts about getting started.


Cognos TM1 and Cognos Express Users SSL Certificates Alert

Posted on Monday 14th November 2016 9:30

IBM Cognos TM1 Certificate

IBM Alert: Update Your Cognos TM1 SSL Certificates

IBM support has issued an urgent message to all premise Cognos TM1 and Express users:
You must refresh your SSL Certificate or your TM1 System will Stop Working on November 25, 2016.

Put simply, all SSL certificates bundled with Cognos TM1 will expire on November 24th, 2016.

If new certificates are not updated before this date communication between clients and the TM1 Server will be prevented. In effect, Cognos TM1 will become unavailable.

Is Your Data At Risk?

All users of Cognos TM1 could be affected and urgently need to review their SSL settings.
If you are NOT using custom SSL Certificates on both your TM1 Admin Server and TM1 Server or using the v2 TM1 Certificates – then your organisation will be affected.

It is important to note – custom certificates on your WEB TIER (if SSL Secured) are not a solution.
Unless you also configured custom certificates for the TM1 Admin Server and TM1 Server – then you will still be affected.

Updates need to happen before November 24th. 
After that date any bundled TM1 SSL certificates which are not updated risk loss of functionality.

Why is the update needed?

Historically, TM1 have bundled certificates. This makes certain every client has SSL enabled, which ensures communication between clients and the data server are secured. This is unusual as most SSL Configuration is now transferred to the customer base by vendors.

The reason why the TM1 team continue to bundle certificates is to simplify the ability to have secured communication. By allowing customer owned custom certificates to be used as well it ensures all TM1 users, regardless of skill level and understanding, will have secure communication.

While on the one hand, this is great news on the other certificates expire every 10 years. At this point an update is required to prevent a mass outage – which is the current issue this November.

IBM Support put together a useful FAQ to help users understand the IBM Cognos TM1 certificate expiry issues.

How to update IBM Cognos TM1 Certificates

Get in touch with your Cognos Support Team!
The first port of call is to check with your support team. If they are on the ball, like the helpful Influential Support team with our in-house Cognos TM1 Solution experts, then you will already have had a step-by-step plan actioned to ensure your TM1 connections run smoothly and uninterrupted.

Alternatively: IBM Support suggest 4 different options.
IBM Support put together a simple guide to Updating Cognos TM1 SSL Certificates outlining the 4 methods they recommend:

  1. Manual Certificate Updates Process: IBM Cognos TM1 SSL Expiration
  2. Apply an Interim Fix Updater: Using Cognos TM1 SSL Expiration – Updater Kits
  3. Using Custom Certificates
  4. IBM Cognos TM1 v2 Certificates (Technote)

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Bridging the IT Delivery Gap

Posted on Wednesday 9th November 2016 10:30

Technology is changing and the space between demand and delivery – the IT Delivery Gap – is only going to get bigger. What impact will the gap have on businesses and what can be done to bridge it?

Bridging the IT Delivery Gap

What is the IT Delivery Gap?

It’s no secret that the world is changing. New technologies are emerging rapidly, such as IoT, Mobile, Big Data Analytics, SaaS and Cloud adoption – all evolving at an exponential rate.

IT Delivery Gap Diagram
New applications add to data production, and require more connections and integration. As Businesses attempt to leverage this new technology, to meet customer and partner expectations, the pressure falls on internal IT teams to deliver results, fast.

The space between the demand and the delivery capacity is called the IT Delivery Gap. Unless IT budgets and resources grow at the same rate as the demand, IT simply cannot bridge the gap.

The traditional operating model is a project-based approach where IT projects are standalone and each new application is built from scratch. This operational model offers limited room for growth, with IT delivery capacity remaining unchanged. Meanwhile technologies continue to evolve and expand and the demands on IT increase.

We’re in a new age of industrial revolution and the future of the traditional model is inevitable: the IT Delivery Gap will grow and businesses will be unable to meet demands.

What are the solutions?

Increase the Pressure

A knee-jerk reaction to is to try increasing output to meet demand without any change to IT resources; the old, budget-driven ‘do more with less’ approach that can do more harm than good. Higher pressure on IT delivery may have the opposite effect than desired, compromising quality of work and reducing morale, which may negatively impact productivity.

Improve the Resources?

Some companies can afford to increase the IT budget, adding staff and enhancing tools, a stop-gap solution that can be costly if not applied carefully. It can increase output in the short term, but IT budgets aren’t limitless. Expansion of resources will reach maximum capacity and the IT Delivery Gap will just keep growing.

It also doesn’t fix the problem of the connectivity mess as new standalone applications are built and point-to-point connected to everything else. The typical reaction to prevent breaking to this fragile system is to freeze development and innovation – a one-way ticket to ultimate business failure.

Future-Proof Solutions: Change the Approach

Digital Transformation is essential and involves more than just ‘going paperless’. It calls for a change of the operational model, the role of IT and the culture of digital system development. The key is to create systems built for change; to innovate rather than reinvent.

Experts such as MuleSoft believe that API-Led Connectivity is the answer. APIs are reusable, sharable assets that speed up development and allow frictionless connectivity to other systems – the basis of an ‘Application Network’.

Reusing assets transforms the time and resources required to deliver IT projects and creates plug-and-play ability for fast, easy connectivity to anything, anywhere. User-friendly interfaces like the Anypoint Platform allow anyone to build and manage these APIs and connections, relieving pressure from IT teams and enabling self-service.

Are you ready to transform your enterprise?It’s clear that the IT Delivery Gap is a growing concern for businesses and that change needs to happen fast. What’s unclear is who will adapt to meet the demands and who won’t. At Influential we’re already helping businesses to forge their plans for digital transformation and close the IT Delivery Gap for good.