Customer Profitability sample for Power BI: Take a tour

The Customer Profitability sample contains a dashboard, report, and dataset for a company that manufactures marketing materials. This dashboard was created by a CFO to see key metrics about their five business unit managers (executives), products, customers, and gross margins (GM). At a glance, they can see what factors are impacting profitability.

Dashboard for the Customer Profitability sample

This sample is part of a series that shows how you can use Power BI with business-oriented data, reports, and dashboards. It was created by obviEnce with real data, which has been anonymized. The data is available in several formats: a built-in sample in the service, a .pbix Power BI Desktop file, or an Excel workbook. See Samples for Power BI.

This tutorial explores the built-in Customer Profitability sample in the Power BI service. Because the report experience is similar in Power BI Desktop and in the service, you can also follow along by using the sample .pbix file in Power BI Desktop.

You don't need a Power BI license to explore the samples in Power BI Desktop. If you don't have a Power BI Pro or Premium Per User (PPU) license, you can save the sample to your My Workspace in the Power BI service.

Get the sample

Before you can use the sample, you must first download it in the Power BI service, or get the .pbix file or Excel workbook.

Download the built-in sample

  1. Open the Power BI service (, sign in, and open the workspace where you want to save the sample.

    If you don't have a Power BI Pro or Premium Per User (PPU) license, you can save the sample to your My Workspace.

  2. In the bottom-left corner, select Get data.

    Select Get data.

  3. On the Get Data page that appears, select Samples.

  4. Select Customer Profitability Sample, then choose Connect.

    Connect to sample

  5. Power BI imports the sample, adding a new dashboard, report, and dataset to your current workspace.

    Customer Profitability Sample entry

Get the .pbix file for this sample

Alternatively, you can download the Customer Profitability sample as a .pbix file, which is designed for use with Power BI Desktop.

Get the Excel workbook for this sample

If you want to view the data source for this sample, it's also available as an Excel workbook. To see the raw data, enable the Data Analysis add-ins, and then select Power Pivot > Manage. To download the eight original Excel files, see Explore the Excel samples in Excel.

What is our dashboard telling us?

In the workspace where you saved the sample, find the Customer Profitability dashboard and select it:

Dashboard for the Customer Profitability sample

Company-wide dashboard tiles

  1. Open the dashboard in the Power BI service. The dashboard tiles give our CFO a view of the high-level company metrics important to them. When they see something interesting, they can select a tile to dig into the data.

  2. Review the tiles on the left side of the dashboard.

    Tiles for managers

    Note the following details:

    • The company's gross margin is 42.5%.
    • It has 80 customers.
    • It sells five different products.
    • It had its lowest revenue % variance to budget in February, followed by the highest in March.
    • Most of our revenue comes from the east and north regions. Gross margin has never exceeded budget, with the ER-0 and MA-0 business units requiring further investigation.
    • Total revenue for the year is close to budget.

Manager-specific dashboard tiles

The tiles on the right side of the dashboard provide a team scorecard. The CFO needs to keep track of their managers and these tiles give them a high-level overview of profit, by using GM%. If the GM% trend is unexpected for any manager, then they can investigate further.

GM% for managers

By analyzing the manager-specific dashboard tiles, we can make the following observations:

  • All executives, except Carlos, have already exceeded their target sales. However, Carlos' actual sales are the highest.
  • Annelie's GM% is the lowest, but we see a steady increase since March.
  • Valery, on the other hand, has seen their GM% drop significantly.
  • Andrew had a volatile year.

Explore the dashboard's underlying data

This dashboard has tiles that link to a report and to an Excel workbook.

Open the Excel Online data source

Two tiles on this dashboard, Target vs Actual and Year Over Year Revenue Growth were pinned from an Excel workbook. When you select either of these tiles, Power BI opens the data source: in this case, Excel Online.

Excel online

  1. Select Target vs Actual. Excel Online opens within the Power BI service.

  2. Notice that the workbook has three tabs worth of data. Open COGS.

    The COGS report tab selected.

  3. Total revenue is exceeding costs by a healthy margin. The shape of the Total revenue line and height of the costs columns are similar. Interact with the data by filtering slicing, drilling, and more. For example, let's look at Revenue vs COGS for just one Industry.

    a. From the Industry slicer, select Retail.

    Retail industry selected.

    b. We see that only two district managers cover the retail industry: Andrew and Carlos.

    c. Total revenue is exceeding costs by a healthy margin until 2014 quarter 3. And looking at the stacked column, we see some strange data that bears further examination. Did we truly have no costs for July? Did we get a refund from a third party?

  4. Continue exploring. If you find something interesting, select Pin pin icon from the upper-right corner to pin it to a dashboard.

  5. Use your browser's back arrow to return to the dashboard.

Open the underlying Power BI report

Many of the tiles on the Customer Profitability sample dashboard were pinned from the underlying Customer Profitability sample report.

  1. Select one of these tiles to open the report in Reading view.

    If the tile was created in Q&A, selecting it opens the Q&A window. Select Exit Q&A to return to the dashboard and try a different tile.

  2. The report has three pages. You can select the page you want from the Pages pane on the left.

    Screenshot showing three pages at the left.

    • Team Scorecard focuses on the performance of the five managers and their books of business.
    • Industry Margin Analysis provides a way to analyze the profitability compared to what's happening in the entire industry.
    • Executive Scorecard provides a view of each of the managers, in a custom page size format.

Team Scorecard page

Team scorecard report page

Let's look at two of the team members in detail and see what insights can be gained:

  1. In the Executive slicer on the left, select Andrew's name to filter the report page to display only data about Andrew:

    • For a quick KPI, look at Andrew's Revenue Status (Total Year); it's green, which means he's performing well.
    • The Revenue % Variance to Budget by Month and Executive chart shows that, except for a dip in February, Andrew is doing well. Andrew's most dominant region is the east region, which includes 49 customers, and five out of seven products. Andrew's GM% is not the highest or the lowest.
    • The RevenueTY and Revenue % Var to Budget by Month chart shows a steady, even-profit story. However, if you filter by selecting the square for Central in the region treemap, you discover that Andrew has revenue only in March and only in Indiana. Is this trend intentional or is it something that needs looking into?
  2. Now on to Valery. In the Executive slicer, select Valery's name to filter the report page to display data only about Valery.

    Valery's data

    • Notice the red KPI for Revenue Status (Total Year). This item definitely needs further investigation.
    • Valery's revenue variance also paints a worrying picture; Valery is not meeting set revenue margins.
    • Valery has only nine customers, handles only two products, and works almost exclusively with customers in the north region. This specialization could explain the wide fluctuations in the metrics.
    • If you select the North square in the tree map, it shows that Valery's gross margin in the north region is consistent with the overall margin.
    • Selecting each of the other Total Revenue by Region squares tells an interesting story: their GM% ranges from 23% to 79%. Valery's revenue numbers, in all regions except the north region, are extremely seasonal.
  3. Continue exploring to find out why Valery's area is not performing well. Look at regions, the other business units, and the next page in the report: Industry Margin Analysis.

Industry Margin Analysis

This report page provides a different slice of the data. It looks at gross margin for the entire industry, broken down by segment. The CFO uses this page to compare company and business unit metrics to industry metrics to help them explain trends and profitability. You might wonder why the Gross Margin % by Month and Executive chart is on this page, because it's team-specific. Having it here lets us filter the page by business unit manager.

Industry margin analysis report page

  1. How does profitability vary by industry? How do the products and customers break down by industry? To answer these questions, select one or more industries from the top left (start with the CPG industry). To clear the filter, select the eraser icon.

  2. On the Revenue Var % to Budget, GM%, and RevenueTY by Industry bubble chart, the CFO looks for the largest bubbles, because they have the biggest impact on revenue. To easily see each manager's impact by industry segment, filter the page by selecting each manager's name in turn in the area chart.

  3. As you select each manager in the chart, note the following details:

    • Andrew's area of influence spans many different industry segments with widely varying GM% (most on the positive side) and Var%.
    • Annelie's chart is similar, except that Annelie only concentrates on a handful of industry segments with a focus on the Federal segment and a focus on the Gladius product.
    • Carlos has a clear focus on the services segment, with good profit. Carlos has also greatly improved Var% for the High Tech segment and a new segment, Industrial, performed exceptionally well compared to budget.
    • Tina works with a handful of segments and has the highest GM%, but the mostly small size of the bubbles shows that Tina's impact on the company's bottom line is minimal.
    • Valery, who is responsible for only one product, works in only five industry segments. Valery's industry influence is seasonal, but always produces a large bubble, indicating a significant impact on the company's bottom line. Do the industry segments explain their negative performance?

Executive Scorecard

This page has a custom page size format.

Dig into the data by asking questions with Q&A

For our analysis, it might be helpful to determine which industry generates the most revenue for Valery. Let's use Q&A.

  1. From the top of the dashboard, select Ask a question about your data to open the Q&A question box.

    Ask a question about your data

  2. Type total revenue by industry for Valery in the question box. Notice how the visualization updates as you type the question.

    Type question into question box

    As you can see, the Services industry is the biggest revenue area for Valery.

Dig deeper by adding filters

Let's take a look at the Distribution industry.

  1. Open the Industry Margin Analysis report page.

  2. Without selecting any visualizations on the report page, expand the filter pane on the right (if it isn't already expanded). The Filters pane should display only page level filters.

    Page level filters

  3. Locate the filter for Industry and select the arrow to expand the list. Let's add a page filter for the Distribution industry. First, clear all selections by clearing the Select All checkbox. Then select Distribution only.

    filter for Distribution

  4. The Gross Margin % by Month and Executive chart tells us that only Valery and Tina have customers in this industry and Valery worked with this industry only from June to November.

  5. Select Tina and then Valery in the Gross Margin by Month and Executive chart legend. Notice Tina's portion of the Total Revenue by Product chart is small compared to Valery.

  6. To see actual revenue, select the Q&A box in the dashboard and enter total revenue by executive for distribution by scenario.

    Type question in Q&A box

    We can similarly explore other industries and even add customers to our visuals to understand causes for Valery's performance.

Next steps: Connect to your data

This environment is a safe one to play in, because you can choose not to save your changes. But if you do save them, you can always select Get data for a new copy of this sample.

We hope this tour has shown how Power BI dashboards, Q&A, and reports can provide insights into sample data. Now it's your turn; connect to your own data. With Power BI, you can connect to a wide variety of data sources. To learn more, see Get started with the Power BI service.