Pfizer Accelerates Insights and Lowers TCO by 57% While Processing Data 4x Faster With Snowpark

By migrating to Snowflake, this pharma giant has unified business units with greater access to insights and seamless data sharing — all while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).



Annual hours saved, thanks to faster data processing


Reduction in TCO and 28% reduction in overall database costs vs. previous solution

Pharmacist looking at something interesting on his tablet
Pfizer logo
Life Sciences
New York, NY

Achieving the vision of “One Pfizer”

Whether you're racing to develop a vaccine during a global pandemic or seeking new treatments for cancer or heart disease, timely access to data is critical for any pharmaceutical company. Yet the organizations with the greatest resources to achieve these objectives often face the biggest challenges due to data silos and the distributed, global nature of their workforce. 

Pfizer knows this challenge all too well. The company, started by two German emigrants in a Brooklyn factory in 1849, now employs 80,000 people across six continents. As the company has grown through mergers and acquisitions, the disparate systems it uses to collect, store and share data have become increasingly siloed, making it harder to get timely information into the hands of the people who need it. 

“For many years we've had this high-level goal of One Pfizer, which primarily focuses on bringing everyone's data together in one easily accessible, shareable location,” says Steven Ring, Pfizer's director of enterprise database solutions. “But our data was all over the place — in Oracle databases, Amazon S3 files, Teradata, even spreadsheet's on people's desktops. We had multiple data lakes, which defeats the purpose.” 

The diffuse locations, technologies and file formats meant data had to constantly be extracted, moved and transformed, leading to costly delays. But once Pfizer adopted the Snowflake data platform, everything started to click.

Now, when different business units need to share data, it's all in one compliant, secure, trusted place. Snowflake was a key contributor in helping us get to One Pfizer.”

Steven Ring
Director of Enterprise Database Solutions, Pfizer
Story Highlights
  • Sharing data across every business unit: Breaking down silos allows multiple divisions of Pfizer to draw from a single source of truth.

  • Reducing time to generate key reports: Field reps and analytics teams benefit from dramatic reductions in time needed to analyze data and produce reports.

  • Slashing costs: Consolidating under a single cloud platform shaved TCO by nearly 40% and compute costs by 28% — and additional cost optimizations achieved a total of 57% in TCO savings.

The power of company-wide access to data: accelerated sales reports and up to 4x faster analytics

Now with all their data unified in a single source of truth, business units across Pfizer — from commercial operations, sales and marketing to manufacturing and the global supply chain — can easily access and share information for greater productivity and faster decisions. 

The company's field reps, for example, now have access to reports with fresh data that give them the insights they need before meeting with healthcare professionals. Prior to Snowflake, these reports could take up to an hour to generate due to concurrency problems from everyone trying to access the same data at the same time. Now, these reports take as little as 40 seconds, allowing salespeople to be more efficient with their client visits. 

Snowflake’s scalability and data processing functionality have unleashed additional time savings throughout the organization. For example, Snowpark enabled Pfizer to create a cloud-based Virtual Analytics Workspace where data scientists and business users could collaborate on everything from improving manufacturing efficiency to supply chain forecasting. 

Analytics teams no longer have to extract data sets from their original locations and run Python scripts to generate insights from millions of records — a process that used to take around 37 minutes. Now, using Snowflake and the Snowpark library of runtime code, the same process takes an average of eight minutes — a more than 4x improvement. Thanks to this efficiency, Pfizer's analytics team saved more than 19,000 hours of processing time over the course of a year, contributing to significant operational overhead cost savings. Faster processing has allowed the company to run 40 times as many SQL queries and derive exponentially more business-boosting insights.

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“Snowflake has been strategic to simplify our data foundation. It allowed us to solve concurrency and data silo problems at an enterprise scale. It's easy to use, there's no maintenance, and database administration is drastically reduced. It gives us functionality we can't get anywhere else — and it costs us less.”

Steven Ring
Director of Enterprise Database Solutions, Pfizer

Cross-region collaboration breaks down silos, builds security and supports M&A

As a global company with teams across the Americas, Europe and Asia, Pfizer must ensure all its business units can quickly access and share data around the clock. Prior to Snowflake, this sharing required copies of data, ETL pipelines and an array of cumbersome, time-consuming processes. 

But now, Snowgrid — Snowflake’s cross-region, cross-cloud technology layer — allows Pfizer business units to seamlessly and securely collaborate, regardless of the country they’re in. This heightened level of sharing helps improve business continuity for the global organization while enabling teams like global supply to gain better visibility into the entire supply chain for better forecasting. 

Breaking down silos between business units and removing the need to shuttle files between departments also made governance easier and data more secure. "One of the biggest advantages is we now have data governance across all business domains in Snowflake," says Ring. "I can see who has access to what, whether they're in our commercial unit, manufacturing, finance or any other unit."

With a rich history of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), Pfizer has also used Snowflake Secure Data Sharing to integrate data faster and make its transitions more seamless. Previously, data was shared via avenues like SFTP, S3, SharePoint, OneDrive and email, which disrupted sales processes and selling models. Since business, analytical and digital organizations all had a role in collecting data, data requests were often redundant, and metrics were conflicting. But with Snowflake, Pfizer now has a single source of truth — all on one secure, compliant platform. Fueling current and future M&A, this governed approach to data sharing helps teams be productive from day one while supporting core data integrations and unexpected analytical needs that will inevitably arise.

Value climbs while costs plummet

Pfizer's democratization of company data also came with an added bonus: lower total cost of ownership. Migrating away from proprietary data warehouses slashed the company's data processing costs by 40% and further reduced compute costs by 28%. From there, the Snowflake team suggested additional cost optimization measures, such as usage dashboards, that achieved a total of 57% in TCO savings.

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With Snowflake, we now deliver a much better data platform at global scale for less than our legacy data platform.”

John Pastor
Director of Business Technology, Pfizer

And Pfizer is only getting started. By better delivering on its One Pfizer goal, the company is accelerating its mission to achieve breakthroughs that change lives. Ring says, “Management views Snowflake as key to Pfizer’s strategic IT initiatives — which allows us to look to Snowflake for even more use cases moving forward.”

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