Energy provider Uniper has collaborated with Snowflake to build a connector that feeds data from Snowflake into Microsoft Power Automate, which allows Uniper’s employees to build their own automations. Uniper now uses the Snowflake-Power Automate connector for the following:
- Create reports on employees’ mobile spending, avoiding the need to manually upload phone bills.
- Automate the collection of data for analytics and reports. This can provide commodity traders with updated reports on price forecasts and cash positions, so they can make decisions based on the latest data.
- Democratize access to automation, so that Uniper’s employees can automate repetitive tasks themselves and become more productive and happier in their work.
Read on to find out more about how this collaboration came about:
Uniper is a leading European energy company, ensuring supply security across the continent and helping companies to decarbonize. The company is a longstanding Snowflake customer, using the platform as its central data lake. Snowflake is at the heart of Uniper’s data democratization efforts.
Recently, Uniper and Snowflake completed the development of a new connector that will help the energy provider unlock even more benefits of data democratization by empowering its workers to build their own automations for routine tasks and become more productive.
Snowflake caught up with Rene Koch, enterprise architecture lead at Uniper, to talk about why the company needed this connector, how it will help the company, and what his experience was like collaborating with Snowflake.
Unlocking the potential of data democratization
As a data-driven company, Uniper’s strategic priority is to fully leverage its data assets. In pursuit of this goal, Uniper has adopted Microsoft’s Power Platform, a low-code development platform that helps organizations accelerate innovation by analyzing data, automating processes, and building apps. While Uniper could use Power BI tools with Snowflake for analytics and reporting, it encountered a challenge when it came to transforming these data insights into action.
Specifically, Uniper was unable to easily connect data stored in Snowflake with Microsoft Power Automate, a solution that allows employees to build automations using a simple drag-and-drop interface. Uniper staff who wanted to streamline repetitive tasks and processes using Power Automate – thus increasing their efficiency and reducing company costs – had to manually find and upload relevant data.
Instead, Uniper proposed developing a Power Automate connector for Snowflake, so that data could easily flow between the cloud solutions and power employee-developed apps and automations.
A successful global collaboration
After devising the idea for the new connector, Uniper’s team connected with Snowflake’s REST API developers. These teams worked closely together, providing specifications and use cases for the latest version of the API. This process required both teams to keep in close contact to solve technical challenges and make any adjustments, with the goal of making the connector as easy to use as possible.
This required open dialogue and close collaboration: experts from several Uniper teams and Snowflake functions provided expertise for developing the connector, and Uniper helped to test a preview version of Snowflake’s REST API to provide valuable feedback and input. Uniper and Snowflake also coordinated their efforts with Microsoft. Developing the connector was a truly global effort, with teams from the three companies stationed around the world.
“This was a great collaboration of people,” says Koch. “It demonstrates the tight relationship that Uniper and Snowflake have built up, because we worked together on this project over a long period of time and it required a lot of expertise.”
Putting the Power Automate connector into action
Uniper uses Snowflake’s data lake to democratize employees’ access to data, while the Power Automate connector democratizes their ability to turn data into positive action. It is easy to use and does not require high-level coding knowledge: the graphical interface allows users to click and drag on icons to design workflow automations, without needing to write code.
The connector is being used across Uniper by its citizen developers – employees who create applications for themselves and others – to automate daily tasks. For instance, workers in Uniper’s market analytics departments can now automate the task of loading data into evaluation reports. By empowering staff to build their own automations without needing to draw on the resources of the IT department, these employees are more productive and happier in their work.
One of the first use cases for this connector was part of Uniper’s efforts to control costs for IT services. The company put together a team to create monthly notifications that informed team members about their mobile consumption costs. This required a combination of data from many sources, and using the connector eliminated the need to manually find and upload the data needed to create the reports.
This innovation has the potential to help Uniper be more agile in today’s market. As an energy company, Uniper is highly affected by the daily price movement of commodities, and the company’s commodity traders need regular reports on various aspects of its operations such as price forecasts and cash flow. These reports require combining data from different sources and need to be as accurate and useful as possible. Having a way to automate the collection of relevant data, without having to reconfigure the database, will help Uniper’s analytics team scale their capabilities and increase their capacity to produce more reports in a shorter time frame.
A gift for all industries
Rather than keep this connector private, Uniper chose to develop the connector as an open-source initiative. From the beginning of development, Uniper was open to sharing its code and experience with other competitors in the market, to make the final product as user-friendly as possible. As a result, the connector can be used by any Snowflake customers wishing to connect their database to Power Automate. Furthermore, the connector supports the OAuth industry-standard authorization protocol and active directory, which ensures secure access.
“We didn’t develop this connector just for ourselves,” says Rene. “We developed it together with Microsoft and Snowflake, to share it with whoever is interested in it. Going forward, this also means that we can tap into crowd intelligence to improve it: other people can see what we have done and can suggest improvements, and there have been a few suggestions already.”
The connector allows Uniper to use Power Automate and Snowflake together as one single secure service, helping staff to automate repetitive tasks with the right data. But the development of this project also underlines the strategic value that Snowflake can offer and its willingness to collaborate with clients to unlock innovation.
Learn more about the Power Automate connector for Snowflake here.