Power BI Usage Metrics – What is it good for – Absolutely Everything!

Last week Power BI team had announced a new feature in the Power BI service – Usage Metrics of Reports and Dashboards. Read more here. While many additional great features were announced here (and each deserves a dedicated focus), I wanted to share today why and how you can take advantage of the Power BI Usage Metrics. Keep reading to learn how to create your own Power BI Report in Power BI Desktop, and create a customize version of the usage metrics to better meet your BI governance needs.

Customize Power BI Usage Report

Why Usage Metrics are so important

Power BI is one-of-a-kind Self-Service BI tool. It allows both analysts and centralized BI teams to rapidly implement their reporting solution with the same tool, and engage in an innovative data culture evolution, where successful self-service BI projects in Excel (not only Power BI), can be easily converted into a centralized corporate solution.

This bottom-up approach, allows CIOs, BI and Data Governance teams in organizations to embrace Power BI to support grassroots data innovation, and motivate self-service projects of small teams and even individuals to evolve. Imagine what you can achieve, when so many subject matter experts, Excel power users, and passionate analysts use the same tools to create and share their reports.

DataChant Power BI Data Innovation Catalysts
Grassroots Data Innovation with Power BI

As in any evolution, the “strongest” reports, that will make the highest business impact, will eventually find their way to become a centralized BI solution. Yes, many reports will not survive this evolution, and will “fail”. Only the few will grow and become the next generation of insights in your organization. But, the many failures to evolve, are not a real failure. These failures are by design. By a repetitive failures and improvements, you will eventually find the “strongest” reports.

How do you define a “strong” report? By its business impact, of course, and here is where data can be your best friend. As a key player in BI / Data governance in your organization, you can now start measuring the engagement levels of the Power BI Dashboard and Reports, and identify the “strongest” ones. The next step, is to establish the controls which will allow you to handpick the candidates for a centralized governed solution; empower their authors to be agile, and iterate and release improvements, till the report is ready for prime time as centralized solution.

Measuring your report’s engagement is crucial element. To determine that your report makes an impact, track the usage metrics as an evidence of success, or a means to identify areas for improvements (For example, if a specific page in the report is hardly been viewed, you can consider redesigning the layout of the report).

If you intend to join the Microsoft Data Insights Summit next week, you can join my session here, and learn how Power BI (and you) can boost Data Innovation in your organization. Measuring report engagement, is a fundamental way to tap into the evolution forces, and speed up your time to insight.

How to track Power BI usage

A detailed article on Power BI Usage Metrics can be found here. The article explains how to create a single report to track individual dashboards or reports. For example, you can initiate the report on the service by selecting a specific dashboard or report and click the highlighted icon.
Here is a screenshot of an existing Dashboard Usage Metrics report:
A screenshot of the Power BI report that you can now create on powerbi.com
As the Power BI Usage report cannot be downloaded into Power BI Desktop for customization, the article shows how to customize the report in the service, and show any dashboard or a report in a workgroup: “the report has a Report level filter applied. If, for example, you used the dashboard named “European sales” to create this new full-featured report, only usage data from the “European sales” dashboard will display. To remove the filter, display the Filters pane and select the “x” to delete the Report level filter.”

The Power BI Desktop Usage Report

Before you start, you will need to follow the steps here to create a web version of a specific Dashboard or Report usage. It doesn’t matter which report or dashboard. But you will need one report for a specific report usage, and one report for a specific dashboard usage.

Open Power BI Desktop. Ensure that you have the latest Power BI Desktop (Minimum version -May 2017), and that Power BI Service Live Connection is turned on in File –> Options & Settings –> Options –> Preview features.

Enable Power BI Service Live Connection – Check this box!

Click Get Data. Select Online Services, then select Power BI Service, and click Connect.

In the Power BI Service dialog, select the workspace you wish to monitor. You cannot create a single report for multiple workspaces.

After you expand the relevant workspace, type “usage” in the search box, and select Report Usage Metrics Model to track the usage of all your reports in the selected workspace.

You select Dashboard Usage Metrics Model, if you want to track the usage of all the dashboards in the relevant workspace. Note: You cannot load both reports and dashboards to the same report. The live connection is limited to a single dataset.

After you select the dataset, click Load.

I think that the Report Usage Model Metrics is more interesting, so, let’s focus on it, and load it.

You will find the following tables in fields:

Views is the main fact table. With Date, which is in a Many-to-one relationship with the Date in Dates table, and ReportGuid which is connected to the corresponding column in Reports.

You can drag and drop the field DisplayName from Reports, and ViewsCount from Views to find the number of views for each report. Using ViewersCount from Views will show you the number of unique viewers in the organization (who logged in to PowerBI.com with their corporate email address – Not the public viewers that have accessed the report after using Publish to Web).

You can also add new measures. For example: You can implement time intelligence and show Month over Month growth of views or unique viewers.

And here is a screenshot from the report that I have created on DataChant tenant and on My Worpspace.

Note, that the report can currently only show data from the last three months, and there is no way to identify unique viewers.

Unfortunately, I cannot share the report file yet. Live connections to Power BI service are currently not editable in Power BI Desktop, and the specific report couldn’t even be published publicly (via Publish to Web).

When you open a report with a live connection to Power BI service, and you are logged in to a different tenant on Power BI, you will get an endless loop of errors:


Since the Live Connection to Power BI is in preview, I hope that in the future, we will be able to edit the live connection and share such reports.

Leave a Reply