Markets are perpetually shifting and change is unavoidable, but to keep up with those shifting tides companies need to stay focused on digital transformation. Leaders across many industries and companies of all sizes report that one of their biggest challenges is siloed data. The top challenge for businesses with digital transformation goals in 2023 is determining where their companies should direct spending on technologies, according to a BCG X report.
The Data Cloud is increasingly becoming a facilitator for digital transformation initiatives, and while there are many facets to that story, our customers often tell us how three critical elements play a central role: being able to access and share live data; being able to share data without having to move it; and the ability to securely access third-party data.
Snowflake worked with Longitude to assess what it takes to lead in the data economy. The resulting report, How to Win in the Data Economy, includes anecdotes from dozens of customers, analysts, and influencers about how to succeed, all in addition to the survey itself, based on feedback from 1,000 senior business, technology, and data managers across five industries and from all over the world.
One of these customers is Tom Mazzaferro, Chief Data & Innovation Officer of Western Union, which serves more than 100 million global customers through approximately 600,000 retail locations, and via its digital platforms. Western Union reduced data warehousing costs by 50% and has saved millions through streamlined data engineering and administration after moving more than 30 data stores, including on-premises data, into Snowflake.
Prior to implementing Snowflake in 2021, Western Union’s data spanned 34 on-premises data warehouses, resulting in latency and operational burdens. Western Union has gained a comprehensive view of the customer while running the Data Cloud on AWS. For more details about how Western Union went from 34 on-prem data warehouses to pursuing a multi-cloud strategy based on Snowflake, read our case study.
We caught up with Mazzaferro to dive deeper into how the Data Cloud enables ongoing digital transformation at Western Union:
Snowflake: Tom, as CDIO you lead the charge on keeping Western Union at the forefront of data economy leadership. But you say it’s about more than technology?
Mazzaferro: Technology is a critical part of the equation, of course, but technology can never drive culture change. If CDIOs don’t have the right culture on their teams, how can they help drive a data-first culture throughout their organization? The culture change has to be driven across teams to show how technology has enabled different and better outcomes.
Snowflake: What do you see changing now that your organization is better able to share data?
Mazzaferro: In the past, the thinking in the industry has often been that applications are king, and that data flows through the applications. That’s changing. Now data is the driver and applications are being developed to handle that data and represent it to business stakeholders to make it consumable. It’s important to understand that business stakeholders are customers of our data. In the past five years, there’s been a leveling across applications and data. Because if you don’t have the right data, your applications will struggle to provide the right business outcomes and customer experiences.
Snowflake: What are a few highlights of how Snowflake is helping with digital transformation?
Mazzaferro: Snowflake is enabling quite a bit around analytics, reporting, event triggers, and settlement across our card providers. Snowflake enables us to centralize our data and enable application and business processes to leverage it across the organization. We’ve been able to increase the amount and frequency of relevant data we can share with our agents, and they have started to build new processes based on that.
Snowflake: Any advice for other CDOs?
Mazzaferro: Keep it simple. Provide value consistently every month and deliver new value and capabilities. Really understand the business stakeholder’s problem and how you can fix or enable it. Then think about the products you want to offer and how it can be a data-enabled product, such as being hyper-personalized. Does it offer a more seamless customer experience? The role of CDO needs to encompass more than data management and data governance, more than even enabling the pipeline and managing the environments. The CDO needs to drive digital transformation by enabling data to power product development and the company.
To learn more about the data economy, what your organization stands to gain from using data effectively, and how to become a Data Economy Leader, download the report overview, How to Win in Today’s Data Economy.