Snowflake met with Jan Doumen, Head of Expertise for Allianz Benelux, and Naveed Memon, Program Director, Data and Analytics for Emirates, at Data Cloud Summit 2020. Read excerpts from the conversation to learn how capturing data insights in the Data Cloud brings value to their businesses.
Data’s value in the 21st century is often compared to oil’s value in the 18th century. It can transform organizations, opening doors to unprecedented opportunities. Getting the best results, however, depends on effectively refining and using data.
Insurance leader Allianz Benelux and travel leader Emirates use the Snowflake Data Cloud today to break down data silos. The result is smarter decision-making from improved data sharing across internal teams and with key suppliers and customers.
Q. Why is your business so invested in data?
Doumen: Insurance has always been data-driven. We rely on a combination of data, statistics, and math to understand the levels of risk we cover and how much money we will need to pay out when risks become a reality. The more data we have, the better we estimate risks and the more accurately we can determine our reserves. Ultimately, data analytics also determines the price of the premiums we need to charge for our services.
Memon: Data has never been as relevant to Emirates as it is now, especially in the post-COVID world. Right now, the ability to personalize offers and service for our passengers is our biggest asset. Data collection and analysis plays an essential role in determining how we can best serve customers—right down to the catering services we offer in our planes. We use data science, including machine learning models, to optimize the customer experience, as well as other areas of the business such as fuel efficiency.
Q. What led you to the Snowflake Data Cloud?
Doumen: We found Snowflake’s cloud-native solution attractive, and a proof of concept using Data Vault as our data warehouse ran incredibly smoothly. We were almost immediately convinced that Snowflake was what we needed. One thing that attracted our attention was Snowflake’s handling of semi-structured data, such as XML and JSON. We have customer behavioral data flows from our front end that are in JSON. It is a massive amount of data that we need to be able query quickly and efficiently.
The elasticity and performance of the cloud was also a driver for us. Allianz has a long history of mergers and acquisitions. As a result, we often end up with different back-end systems that can be difficult to integrate. We work in shared environments internally, and we run into scalability and performance problems when, for example, all finance departments need to have all data in the first two days of the month. In our Snowflake proof of concept, we saw data load times accelerate by days, with teams now able to handle several data loads in one day.
Memon: We put a data lake in place a few years ago, and it became a one-stop shop to access all our source data. We then migrated it to the cloud, but our data warehouse wasn’t there yet. That meant our data lake ran fast, but our data warehouse was slow. This challenge was the reason we started exploring Snowflake. The native cloud and separation of compute and storage was also key. We love what we can do now because of the integration with DevOps, our CI/CD pipelines, and our ingestion pipelines—everything is more powerful. Previously, it would take weeks or even months to deploy and bring up an environment, and ingestion without automation was a huge bottleneck.
We also found Snowflake’s cloud agnostic approach and support for semi-structured data important. Now, we can focus on business features, versus deployment and maintenance.
Q. How are you using data to better serve your customers?
Doumen: Our customers are mainly insurance brokers. It is very important for us to know exactly how they navigate through all of the underwriting steps so that we can see how they use data to put together the best solutions and pricing packages for their customers. Often, brokers have a customer sitting in front of them, and it’s incredibly beneficial for them to have immediate access to reliable data.
Memon: We use the data to deliver very personalized experiences. We want to deliver data-driven offers that appeal to frequent flyer members as well as new customers. We want to cater to each customer’s preferences. This could even apply to enabling us to personalize a traveler’s inflight entertainment ahead of time, so each person has automatic access to the movies, music, and other content they want as soon as they step on the plane. We can also use data throughout the customer journey, allowing us to take our passenger-focused business to the next level.