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IBM Planning Analytics update receives praise at launch event

By Nick Forrester
Wed 4 Nov 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Last week, CorPlan NZ, one of the leading providers of IBM Business Analytics solutions in the country, held events in Auckland and Wellington to showcase brand new updates to one of its essential tools: IBM Planning Analytics. 

The Auckland event featured presentations from business analytics lead Kate Turska, services director Campbell Claridge, and business consultant Stephen Bridewell. These presentations highlighted the significant changes brought to the Planning Analytics Workspace, including new UI features, charting, and cutting edge forecasting.

Here are the highlights of what was announced for Planning Analytics Workspace SC57:

New landing page

The new Planning Analytics Workspace landing page presents user content in a ‘list’ view, replacing the previous interface which organised assets in folders. This results in a more compact UI and reduces screen clutter.

The new landing page also features a ‘favourites’ and ‘recents’ tab, which improves sorting functionality, giving users the ability to add assets to dedicated collections for easy retrieval.

New dashboard

The update announced at the event greatly enhances opportunities for customisation of the dashboard, adding several new functionalities, including: 

  • Aligning multiple objects all at once
  • Moving the position of the tab within the dashboard in any direction
  • Viewing grid lines on the dashboard while in Edit mode to ensure perfect positioning
  • Creating new enhanced colour palettes. Users can now choose from one of the multiple colour palettes provided, or add any colour to a colour palette using a colour wheel, or specific RGB code. Users can also share their custom colour palettes with colleagues.
New navigation experience

With the previous Workspace, users had to return to the landing page to open other books — but no longer!

Users can now access their content from anywhere in the Workspace, with easy access to shared and personal folders within the book available by using the new left-hand navigation panel.

New visualisations

New chart types, including waterfall charts and bullet charts, have been added to the Workspace, enhancing visualisation usability. 

The charting creation process is now more intuitive, allowing users to assign data to the exact slots where it is needed. Users no longer need to use a cube viewer (aka exploration) toolbar and position dimensions to see the desired chart by nesting and stacking them.

AI-based forecasting

Perhaps the most significant aspect of the update to Planning Analytics is the introduction of native machine learning tools to aid in the planning process.

Previously, users had to leverage tools like Watson Studio or SPSS Modeler to create time series-related forecasts. IBM has brought that feature set directly into Workspace so that end users can benefit from this sophisticated predictive modelling technology.

There is now a new ‘forecast’ option within a Workspace book, and users are walked through creating a time series forecast by learning from historical data to project future values.

Workspace does the heavy lifting by selecting the right algorithm and tracking accuracy across forecast versions. Users select the historical data (either base or consolidated) on which to base the forecast, and Workspace reports back the details, including accuracy and confidence intervals.

Attendees at the event were impressed with the new options, with particular praise heaped onto the forecasting feature.

“The forecasting and extrapolation functionality is really impressive,” says Armstrong Motors digital marketing manager Daniel Hill.

“I haven’t seen that sort of functionality in this context before, so that’s really exciting.”

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