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Good Basic Reporting Improved
Message Center notification MC210158 (April 22) announced the availability of several improvements in the usage reports available in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Roadmap item 59845 covers analytics for the Office 365 ProPlus apps (now Microsoft 365 enterprise apps) while item 63209 covers a new card to summarize activities most used by employees working from home. This update also includes calendar events in the Exchange Online usage report. The new reports are rolling out now and are discussed in this blog post.
Remote Working Activities
Microsoft has added a card called Understanding Remote Work Elements to the home page of usage reports (Figure 1). The activities summarized in the card are those Microsoft give a good heartbeat of activities of people working from home and might help organizations understand how communications and collaboration have changed in the transition away from office-based work. For instance, email and Teams interactions have probably replaced some in-person encounters in the workplace.
The activities also include Yammer (for some reason, Microsoft is fascinated by Yammer while most customers are not) and, more importantly, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. When you’re working from home, organizations want documents stored on repositories that can be accessed anywhere. In this context, the OneDrive sync client is very important.
Like any report, it’s important to put the data in context. For example, you might conclude that Yammer activity has exploded in my tenant based on the reported 390.5% growth. That is, until you understand the low base and the fact that during the reporting period I was testing the transition of my Yammer network to Microsoft 365 native mode.
You can’t customize the data shown on the remote working card. It is what it is.
Active Users Report
The active users report helps tenants understand the overall usage pattern across a range of workloads (Figure 2). Three views are available:
- Users: The number of active users for each workload.
- Activity: The number of recorded activities for each workload (for instance, Exchange Online messages read, sent, and accessed by users).
- Services: The overall breakdown of active and inactive users in the tenant per workload.
See this page for more information about using the Active Users report.
ISV Reporting Still Better
The standard usage reports are OK, especially in small to medium tenants, and it’s good to see these improvements. The fact remains that ISV products like Quadrotech Radar Reporting & Analytics invariably offer better flexibility when it comes to analyzing, graphing, and reporting Office 365 usage and other metrics about tenant operations. Both Microsoft and ISV products use the Graph as the single source of wisdom for usage information, so apart from being free, there’s no special magic in the reports available in the Microsoft 365 admin center.
Reporting and auditing is a big topic if you want to understand what’s happening in your tenant. It takes up a complete chapter in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.