How to Manage Anonymized User Data in Microsoft 365 Usage Reports

The usage reports available in the Microsoft 365 admin center, Teams admin center, and other places now include anonymized user information by default. The new default became active on September 1, 2021 and the organization setting applies to any usage data generated by the Microsoft Graph usage reports API, which means that some scripts might create reports less interesting and useful than before. It’s a good change for privacy, but will organizations persist with the new default?

Microsoft Brings the Top Senders and Recipients Report Back from the Dead

For whatever reason, Microsoft decided to cancel plans to remove the Top Senders and Recipients report from the SCC, citing customer feedback as the reason. The thing is that the SCC report and its underlying cmdlet use an old data source. The Microsoft Graph Reports API is the modern approach and an adequate replacement usage reports is available in the Microsoft 365 admin center. I really can’t understand why anyone would want to keep the old report as it’s not very good at all.

Teams Usage Data is Finally Obfuscated in Reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The Teams usage data reported in the Microsoft 365 admin center can now be obfuscated. Teams is the last workload to support this facility. It’s all very well to anonymize, deidentify, or obfuscate user data to protect individual privacy and it’s appropriate to do so in the Microsoft 365 admin center where people with several roles can access the data, but having a single on/off switch for data obfuscation for the Microsoft Graph Reports API is a real pain.

How to Anonymize User Data in Microsoft 365 Usage Reports

The data used for Microsoft 365 usage reports comes from the Microsoft Graph. You can anonymize the data to replace references to user, group, and site names with system-generated values to protect user privacy. This works, but it reduces the usefulness of the reports by a large degree, so you should be prepared to switch to show full user data sometimes.

How to Report Office 365 User Activity Using the Graph API and PowerShell

PowerShell hash tables are very efficient at retrieving data, which is just what’s needed when thousands of Office 365 accounts need processing. Our script to analyze usage data extracted from the Microsoft Graph was turbo-charged when we replaced list objects with hash tables, all of which makes it much easier to identify underused Office 365 accounts and save some money on licensing spend.

Updated Usage Reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Several updates are available for the standard usage reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. One helps Office 365 tenants understand the changed user activity profile due to remote working. Another gives views of user activity across the complete tenant. The updates are useful and interesting, but an ISV product will do a better job of analyzing and reporting the same data.