Why Snowflake Summit is Much More than a User Conference
Jun 03, 2019 | 4 Min Read
Author: Rob Smoot
I agree, history does repeat itself. I joined Snowflake nearly a year ago, six years after its founding and when the planning for Snowflake Summit had just emerged. Prior to Snowflake, I spent 14 years at VMware, joining that highly successful company six years after it was founded, and soon after VMware’s inaugural user conference. It was 2005 and we hosted that very impactful VMware event for more than 1,400 attendees.
Nearly 15 years later, I am fortunate to be in a similar situation at Snowflake. Summit is underway and much bigger than we originally expected. Sold out for weeks, it could have been even bigger than the 1,800+ registered attendees. We’re not patting ourselves on the back. Putting customers first is our top company value and the reason Summit is for them, and more importantly, because of them.
Customer Success Center Stage
More than 80 of our Summit sessions will showcase customers who are breaking through the data barriers that impede organizations from being truly data-driven. During this process, they’re enhancing their skills and accelerating their careers. Snowflake’s cloud-built data warehouse-as-a-service is delivered as a pay-as-you-go solution. Our success can only come from our customers’ success under such a business model. And their momentum is what will take center stage at Summit.
Interested in a few examples? REI, the national outdoor retailer will detail its journey to near real-time, self-service analytics. Devon Energy, the natural gas exploration company, will share how they consolidated multiple solutions into Snowflake as a modern cloud data lake to democratize analytics. In just a few months, Square migrated a petabyte of data and all of its ETL and supporting systems to Snowflake in order to support more than 2,000 daily users with minimal oversight from IT. Indigo AG, recently voted the #1 most disruptive company by CNBC, will share how Snowflake is helping them drive their industry transformation.
The Journey to Transformational Business Value
Many Snowflake customers seek relief from a multitude of impediments common with legacy data solutions. Other customers had previously moved to the cloud but found similar challenges with “cloud-hosted” solutions that don’t take advantage of the instant and infinite resources available in the cloud. We often see the light bulbs go on when customers realize what being truly built for the cloud means.
Our customers then mature from fixing what’s broken to differentiating and accelerating their business. Data flows more seamlessly and customers generate insights as constraints on user access and compute power evaporate with cloud-built analytics. Less structured and near real-time data create more value for the business. Momentum from initial success garners more senior sponsorship, and usually across multiple lines of business. Customers explore advanced use cases such as instantly and securely sharing data across their organization, unleashing more of the potential of a 100% cloud architecture.
The final stage is truly transformational. Customers think about data differently. It is foundational to their business. In fact, it often changes their business. They create new products based on data to generate new sources of revenue and even new business models. Snowflake becomes an enterprise-wide platform that can connect the organization directly to its own customers and the rest of its ecosystem, all operating on the same centralized data with secure, governed and real-time data sharing. Not surprisingly, this level of change is often driven with CxO or board-level sponsorship.
In our experience, certain customers move faster and more successfully towards transformative value than others. For example, data-driven startups and companies that already view data as a strategic asset fit into this category. What are the things these customers do to help them break through data barriers?
“Think big”’ is another one of our core values, and customers who do this get to higher levels of success, faster once they hit that light-bulb moment. A vision for business innovation comes into focus. This vision helps them connect to corporate level initiatives and executive support. Their data initiatives quickly evolve beyond the cost savings and exponentially faster throughput Snowflake provides over their existing data warehouse or data lake. A number of customers, including Mckesson, a Fortune 10 company, were so excited about the vision for a Snowflake-based shake-up that even the CEO and company board engaged with the project. Instead of climbing a curve, they shifted altogether with faster time to insight and innovation, and greater profit and loss impact.
Customers who succeed early start planning early, with a detailed strategy for their Snowflake deployment. This includes scoping out configuration, migration, data ingestion, BI integration, priority use cases, and more. Getting the right expertise is critical, either internal or from external professional services. As a result, their initial deployments were smooth and configured to scale nicely as Snowflake delivered more use cases, and to more users and departments.
These customers developed quick wins on use cases that implemented fast and delivered the biggest business impact. They captured metrics and communicated the proof of initial success with the broader organization to get more departments and lines-of-business excited about Snowflake. This often happened organically as well. Once other business units saw and envied that success, they quickly jumped all in on Snowflake.
Our customers gain even more success by working with Snowflake’s Professional Services group to get the expert technical and business advice from the industry veterans who comprise our consulting team. They also gain value from Snowflake training packages and self-service options such as Snowflake documentation and Snowflake University. We also help them with internal trainings, where employees already proficient on Snowflake train their colleagues. The knowledge our customers gained includes technical tips and tricks, best practices, migration readiness, and effective data integration, management and performance optimization. Big impact and big success often takes a village.
Snowflake customers in advanced phases implement new use cases not possible or even imagined before. Such as Ingesting massive data sets while an army of analysts query that same centralized pool of structured and semi-structured data with parallel, isolated workloads and no impact to performance. Hard to imagine. So was having the instant elasticity to crunch petabytes of data in a fraction of the time. One large enterprise customer in financial services now spins up thousands of large virtual data warehouses (compute clusters) to process data in a few hours, when it previously took days. And what about securely sharing any data set with fine-grained and revocable permissions with any customer or partner in real time? Check. That level of power, flexibility and productivity has been illuminating for them.
Putting Customers First
In just a couple of months, Snowflake will celebrate seven years since the company was founded. From that day until today, our number one value has always been to put our customers first. This week at Snowflake Summit, our inaugural user conference, it will be our privilege to host more than 1,800 attendees in San Francisco. Our customers will not just attend but have a huge impact on Summit by delivering many of the sessions. These technology thought leaders will reveal what’s possible with modern data analytics, and how the latest cloud technologies and strategies have helped their organizations become data-driven enterprises. To bring this customer experience to its peak, Snowflake’s Vice President of Customer and Product Strategy, Matt Glickman, will officially conclude Summit with his closing keynote: Your Journey to Become Data-Driven. We look forward to many more Summit events and helping organizations solve their toughest business challenges with the deepest insights derived from all their data.