Cognos Reporting Tools » Cognos Impromptu

ID #1059

Cognos Impromtu and PowerPlay -- what's the difference?

Impromptu is a reporting tool; PowerPlay is an analysis tool.

A Cognos Impromptu report:
  • can be a summary report (totals, counts, averages, etc) or a detail report
  • is typically either a list (the report designer picks the columns, the database fills out the rows) or a crosstab (the reoprt designer selects fields that determine how to aggregate rows and columns, such as by-state or by-month)
  • might link to another report (drill-through) so the report user can hop from one report to the next
  • is configured in advance by the report author to provide the data in a reasonable format
  • can be used to track down data issues (poorly-migrated data, sloppy input patterns, etc)
  • requires a pre-configured catalog (which is what Impromptu Administrator is for)
A Cognos PowerPlay cube:
  • starts out a bit like an Impromptu crosstab
  • is not designed for detail at all, only aggregation (totals, averages, counts, etc)
  • can have many layers of data -- for a geographic dimension, users could drill into "USA" to see data broken out by state, then into "Illinois" to see cities there, then into "Chicago" to see finer detail yet...
  • lets the end user analyze his/her data by determining dimensions, measures, presentation and more at run-time
  • might reveal quality issues in the data but it'd be hard to determine exactly which records need attention
  • requires a data source (or several) which could be spreadsheets, CSV files, direct database connections or what have you... often people use a data warehouse as an intermediate layer between their enterprise database and a PowerPlay cube

There is some overlap between Impromptu and PowerPlay, especially when thinking about Impromptu crosstabs, except PowerPlay crosstabs are very fluid or dynamic. In a PowerPlay cube, for example, you could start out looking at degree-programs-by-academic-year, then drill down into GPA-by-department and further into grades-by-course. Try drilling-through from an Impromptu crosstab!

Impromptu reports give the report-author a great deal of flexibility in design decisions and in how to present the data, whether it's a transactional report (here's a list of students and their grades, here's a list of alumni addresses, etc) or a summary report (here are the donor-gifts by designation for the last three years...). But once it's designed, the report user has little to say about it other than to answer some prompts.

PowerPlay cubes give the end user lots of flexibility -- pick another dimension for the columns, add a second layer in the rows, choose to display three different measures simultaneously... If your end-user wants to see head-count instead of average-gpa, or studends-per-degree instead of faculty-per-department, no problem in PowerPlay!

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Last update: 2008-04-03 21:45
Author: will trillich
Revision: 1.0

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