When IBM moved away from desktop and to the web, we also moved away from PowerPlay - a great desktop tool that allowed us to give users sets of data (cubes) where they could click around and see what insights they could derive. Analysis Studio replaced it but was never as good as the original.
In older versions of Cognos, the modeler could provide drill paths through the data - they could set it up so you could click on a year and view the quarters. You could click on a branch and see all the sales reps who work in that branch. The developer could add this extra functionality by building power cubes (or similar) or by adding dimensional modeling to relational models and creating new packages from the Framework Manager tool. The work belonged to the developer and getting new or different drill paths meant putting in development requests.
One of the powerful, newer features of Cognos Analytics is the ability to do something called navigation paths. Navigation paths are one of the main reasons you should consider upgrading to Cognos 11 as fast as you can (if you haven't already). A navigation path is a way to allow users to navigate through the non-measure data in a report. It may be a path between year and quarter or it could be a path between year and sales reps. It doesn't have to follow a traditional route up and down a dimension in your data warehouse. It can be between any non-measure columns. These paths can allow your users to see their data the way they need to see it.
Here's where it gets amazing. You know how I said drill paths in traditional Cognos reporting had to be created by developers? Navigation paths can be created by modelers (in data modules) or they can be added to any reporting package (package, cube, data module, upload, data set) by the user in a dashboard.
There are a number of ways to create navigation paths - though they are same if you are a developer in a data module (or a business user in a data module) or in a dashboard.
Here is an example.
In the data module, we can add navigation paths that anyone can use while using the data module (reporting, dashboards, etc).
You can drag over which ever fields you would like to navigate to in the interactive viewer.
While following a hierarchy here is the normal way we would build these, that is not required. You can add any related (joined) fields.
When the data module is saved, you can use it in dashboards (for example).
Now, in dashboards, if you have edit capabilities, you can also add additional navigation paths.
This navigation path will only be available in the dashboard.
Pretty cool! This puts the power into the hands of the user who doesn't have to go back to developers.