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Power BI Desktop vs. Power BI Services

Power BI Desktop app is an excellent way to present and visualize your marketing data to upper management. Suppose you are using your own data source or using some advanced marketing data attribution platforms. In that case, you can use Power BI's power to make the best impression to help drive business decisions.


Why and when to use Desktop or Web version of Power BI


Power BI is an online software service (SaaS, or Software as a Service). It enables you to create dashboards, reports, datasets, and visualizations. Using Power BI, you can connect to many different data sources and combine and shape data.


In a Venn diagram comparing Power BI Desktop and the Power BI service, the middle area shows how the two overlap. There are tasks you can do in either Power BI Desktop or the service. The Venn diagram's two sides offer the features that are unique to the application and the service.





Power BI Desktop is a data analysis and reports creation tool that you install for free on your local computer. With the powerful Query Editor, you can connect to various data sources. You can then combine into a data model and design a report based on that data model.


The Power BI service is, on the other hand, a cloud-based service,  supporting some report editing and full collaboration for teams and organizations. Connecting your data sources in Services brings limited modeling features.


When you use Power BI Desktop to create Power BI reports, and then use the Power BI service to collaborate and distribute the reports, is the way to get most of both platforms.




Workspace in the Power BI service is a place where you and your colleagues collaborate. You can build dashboards that summarize your reports and share them inside your organization to applicable persons. Viewers have only a Reading view, and cannot editing reports. However, you can also explicitly share your datasets and let others build their own reports from them if you choose to do so.


Power BI Security


The Power BI service is built on Azure, which is Microsoft's cloud computing infrastructure and platform. Power BI uses the Azure Active Directory (AAD) to store and manage user identities and manages the storage of data and metadata using Azure BLOB and Azure SQL Database, respectively. Platform security for Power BI also includes multi-tenant environment security, networking security, and the ability to add additional AAD-based security measures.

However, it's important to note that users are responsible for the data they share: if a user connects to data sources using their credentials, then shares a report (or dashboard, or dataset) based on that data, users with whom the dashboard is shared are not authenticated against the original data source, and will be granted access to the report. An exception is connections to SQL Server Analysis Services using the On-premises data gateway. Access will only be granted if the user has sufficient credentials to access the data.


Publishing reports and data to your Power BI account is secure, as described in the Power BI security whitepaper.

Once you've published a report to your Power BI workspace, you can share that report with other Power BI users if you want, and that is secure. However, if you use "Publish to web" that publishes your report to a publicly accessible Use this option only for the reports meant for public use, with demo data or those you want to share with everyone.


Using templates


Suppose you are using your own data source or using some advanced marketing data attribution platforms. In that case, you can use Power BI's power to make the best impression to help drive business decisions. Companies like have made various templates to help you create such reports.


Templates are meant to be used primarily in Power BI Services and Office 365 based web app with collaboration features. However, some companies still do not let their employees use web services to process business data, despite all the security features built inside such applications. We will discuss those security concerns later in this article, but for now, there is a solution to get to those tempšletes, downloading a .pibx version. That way, you can securely have a template that you will use only in your Power BI Desktop environment.


As I understand, Power BI Desktop is still a choice for many over Power BI Services. I am confident that this will change as more people accept the Office 365 platform concept. Anyway, here are a .pibx files you can use to get you started in your marketing data attribution reports for Power BI Desktop.



Multichannel marketing data Attribution dashboard provides simple insights about paid and non-paid media performance. You can see top-level data from all your channels.


  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Bing Ads


And understand their contribution to your marketing goals.

It includes reporting on all channels on a Channel Groupings level to make it easy to understand for everyone (especially for non-technical users). You can customize those reports to suit your marketing strategy.




The use of Power BI tools in any version, Desktop or Services, is an excellent way to improve your data reporting. Also, using some specialized BI platforms like is a way to have your marketing data well structured, with some AI insights, and ready to be used with provided templates, which you can easily customize.


Further steps


It is just the beginning of the Power BI reports journey. I have used both Desktop and Web platforms to create my reports. I have published them in Power BI Data Stories Gallery, and I invite you to check them out. Please let me know if this article was clear enough and provided you with the information you need to connect to your data using a third-party vendor template. I will be happy to update this article with the necessary details. Also, you can find more information on my blog.