Snowflake has pioneered a new architecture for data analytics known as the Data Cloud, making it easy for organizations to integrate, analyze, share and monetize data wherever it lives, all in a scaleable, pay-as-you-go model. Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman sat down recently for an episode of our Rise of the Data Cloud podcast to discuss what the Data Cloud means for businesses – and what the future holds.
He talked about several new and exciting trends, including Snowflake’s increased focus on vertical industries, new ways that customers and partners will be able to combine and monetize data, and the impact of speed on modern businesses.
A big part of the Data Cloud’s benefit is time to value, Slootman says, or how fast organizations can access live, ready-to-query data, uncover insights and react accordingly.
“As data ages, it rapidly loses its value and its impactfulness. One of the big things that we’re seeing at Snowflake is that, because people are able to provision so many concurrent workloads with such enormous clusters, that data is showing up in seconds and minutes, and all of a sudden it’s exploding people’s heads, like, ‘What can we do with this?’ And right now we’re in a situation where we’re only limited by people’s imagination and their budgets, because the technology is not going to hold you back,” he says.
That’s an enormous change from where the industry has been historically. Even today, Slootman notes, some businesses are still focused on running batch processes, which is out of step with the speed of business today.
“We’ve heard the term ‘digital transformation’ one too many times, because everybody uses it to describe just about anything. But to us it means running end-to-end digital processes, fully disintermediated from human intervention, and they run at light speed; they are completely data-driven. They’re incredibly highly scaled. They’re very economical and they’re incredibly precise. And that’s how modern enterprises are really instrumenting and building themselves.“
Reducing time to insight has been particularly important over the past year, when businesses had to adapt quickly to disruptive changes that had no modern precedent.
“We can’t do things based on historical trends anymore, because the trends are all broken. We can’t steer the ship by its wake,” Slootman says. Rather, data science teams must be able to quickly identify the high-value trends and patterns that matter to their organizations and plot a course for the future based on predictive models.
To ensure enterprises have the right data sets to uncover these insights, Snowflake is increasing its focus on industry verticals to provide the specialization that large organizations need.
“When you get high up in large institutions, they don’t want to hear about architectural distinctions and why you can run this workflow so much faster. They want to know how you change their lives in terms of business outcomes, customer experience — whatever matters to that organization,” Slootman says.
That means understanding how industries work and having the specific data sets they need, which is why the Snowflake Data Marketplace is so critical. Financial services companies, for example, can access data from providers like S&P Global and FactSet.
“Customers really demand that we step into their world as opposed to making them step into ours, and that’s been a big pivot,” Slootman noted.
The ability to access and share the right data is critical, Slootman says, because “data science doesn’t care about silos and boundaries between data. They’re interested in data relationships, and they typically are discovered and exist across data sets.”
If you can’t combine data from multiple sources, you can’t make the critical discoveries that move a business forward.
“These data relationships cannot be impeded and encumbered by data silos and data living in millions of places. So it’s very important that we arrive at a notion of a Data Cloud, where the workloads have unfettered access to data, regardless of what it is and where it lives,” he says.
Snowflake provides this capability today, but the need is “ much bigger than Snowflake” and extends to the industry as a whole, Slootman explained. For supply chains to become truly optimized, for example, businesses must have data about every aspect of their supply networks.
“Data starts to make sense when you can see the entire supply chain as opposed to just one piece of it,” he says. “It’s like you have a flashlight and you’re walking into a dark cave. Wherever you shine it, you have perfect visibility, but what you need to do is light up the whole cave, then you really get the overview of what’s going on.”
Snowflake is also making it easier for companies to monetize their data through the Data Marketplace, Slootman says. This includes professional data services organizations, but also enterprises that may be sitting on valuable data sets but have lacked a simple, secure way to share and monetize them. The Data Marketplace provides that ability.
“It becomes so effortless now to transact on data, which historically has been incredibly hard, not just because of the physical movement and the custody of the data but also, how do you buy this? How do you pay for that?”
Snowflake provides the infrastructure for organizations to combine, package and sell data in new, value-added ways, he says.
“We see institutions coming together and combining data and creating new data products, which is a very interesting phenomenon, because people then don’t have to join the data themselves. They basically can access the data and it’s already joined and overlaid and blended. So we’re going to see all kinds of things that we may not have foreseen when we first got started on this journey, just because it’s possible,” he says.
“This is on its way, I will tell you that. In early June, at our annual Snowflake Data Summit, we’re going to show some of the leading edge examples.”
The fully virtual Snowflake Summit takes place on June 8-9. Click here to reserve your ticket now.
Rise of the Data Cloud is a podcast hosted by award-winning author and journalist Steve Hamm. For each episode, Steve speaks with a data leader to learn how they leverage the cloud to manage, share, and analyze data to drive business growth, fuel innovation and disrupt their industries. You can listen to more episodes here.