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Domopalooza 2024 - growth and flexibility are the watchwords as Domo scales up with Snowflake integration

Alyx MacQueen Profile picture for user alex_lee April 9, 2024
Summary:
Domo's first in-person event for five years carried a lot of messages - can customers read between the lines as they focus on flexibility and growth?

Domo data warehouse model in Lego © author
(© author)

At any given time, Domo has nearly 25 trillion rows of data ready to be queried. And query it, customers do — over 12 billion times last year alone. Last year, customers read almost 2 billion data flows, created over 300,000 new data flows, and almost 20 quadrillion rows of data were processed through Magic ETL — Domo’s Extract, Transform, Load tool that allows users to visually define and sequence operations, and drag and drop datasets, actions, and connections without SQL.

Domo’s integration with Snowflake is fundamentally different from how integrations have been managed with cloud warehouses in the past, adopting a 'zero copy' approach.

What's new?

Now, if customers have a data foundation built up, they can use Domo to have connectors derive data directly from the core system into their data foundation. They can also have Magic ETL running directly inside a data foundation like Snowflake, without having to move or replicate the data.

At Domopalooza 2024, Snowflake’s Tarik Dwiek, Head of Technology Alliances, elaborated on Domo’s long-standing partnership with Snowflake, and what the new changes mean for the customer experience:  

It started with the release of Cloud Amplifier last year, which leverages an optimizing ratio to Snowflake - letting customers leverage data instantly instead of having copies and siloing the data — without the data leaving. With the addition of Magic ETL for Snowflake, customers can now easily bring in key data assets, combined with other data in Snowflake for cleansing and transforming. They can do all that in a visual manner, unlocking it for not just technical teams, but also the business teams that have no particular technical expertise but want to be able to start to gain visual insights to build their own dashboards through the drag and drop experience.

Amid product launch excitement, however, organizations are still struggling to make an assortment of data tools work together to create healthy data foundations. Even with APIs, JSONs and every vendor screaming about generative AI that can follow commands at the click of a button, data engineering teams and analysts are still under pressure.

Being able to share data flows, inputs and outputs, joining fiscal calendar data sets using a freeform property box, or visualizing each stage of a workflow for troubleshooting — all of these adjustments all add up to hours saved, which can add value elsewhere. Every little helps — and need to scale and grow isn't going away.

Scaling up

The challenges of growth were discussed by Mike Zierhut, SVP of Business Intelligence and Finance at Allied Universal Security Services, who has channeled a lot of energy into creating a data driven culture that uses analytics to underpin decision making. When Zierhut joined the company ten years ago, it was making around $300 million in revenue. Today it stands at approximately $20 billion with 800,000 employees globally.

He explained that Allied Universal has over 13,000 users in the Domo platform and its decision makers are distributed throughout the world. Being able to drill down to see data at site level, across hundreds of thousands of sites, he described the ability to see performance against priority metrics as a game changer due to the ease of automation management of the tool which is done by just ten people, both internationally and in North America.

Joking that he didn’t miss a zero, Zierhut explained how he liked to think about scaling up exponentially with Domo as a stool with three legs:

We talk about data and tools which is obviously my wheelhouse and these are very important table stakes, but that in and of itself is not going to make changes. The second leg was having the processes in the business to use those tools appropriately, and then the third leg of the stool is accountability of leadership and buy-in. Without all three of those, we would never have seen the impact across the business like we have. 

A common phrase in the company is ‘I’ve got a Domo Card for that’. So everybody uses it cross functionally. It is the data platform that we run on.

Thinking about its 13,000 Domo users across the globe and the distributed nature of the company, Zierhut explained that each site needs more than just data visualizations. For example, it has created a Profit and Loss app that allows for distributed data at a granular level so that each site can see its performance in the hierarchy. Continuing on the finance theme, Zierhut explained:

There's also a custom app around accounts receivable and collections — to track every invoice that is past due, with customer contacts and what we need to do to collect on it. HR is another area — with over 800,000 employees, our turnover is over 60% a year and it's obviously a core competency that we must have for recruiting and hiring. We don’t necessarily need a custom app for this,  just tools, pages and processes to make sure people know where they need to hire. It’s had a tremendous impact in our hiring and retention.

Reflecting back on the three legged stool analogy, he emphasized that bringing metrics from so many transactional systems, third party vendors and internal employees into Domo had enabled the management to operate the entire business from it — while being able to hone in on individual sites and also running at scale.

Flexibility as a building block - but at a cost?

Flexibility was one of the overarching messages as the new updates roll out to customers. Some were already available to everyone. Others are in beta and some are still in the works. But while Domo has unleashed the ability to be flexible amid the growth of its consumption model, some questions and concerns remain for customers about how much it might cost.

Snowflake uses 'credits' as the unit to measure compute usage — and the number of credits consumed depends on the size and runtime of the virtual warehouses used. Cost varies between Snowflake editions and regions, cloud providers and storage size per month, and for transferring data out of Snowflake.

Add Domo on top of this, and you have an additional set of connected workflows and processes where queries can be initiated — some may be loaded from the cache — others may need to go to the cloud warehouse for the most current data. Care was taken to emphasize that governance and controls go hand-in-hand with that flexibility. The new Cloud Amplifier enhancements allow customers to control how often Domo communicates with the data cloud, ensuring data meets the needs of the user or organization but with the ability to set clear parameters and permissions for administrators to ensure costs can be controlled. Although supportive, this still means that individual organizations need to be clear on defining and implementing those guardrails.

My take 

Domopalooza returning to an in-person event was an opportunity for the vendor to position its independence in an almost feisty manner against a strong community vibe. The atmosphere around tables at meal times was alive with customers who clearly love Domo. Executive after executive took to the stage during the event, with one update after another. Interspersed with customers, it was a whirlwind of speakers.

Domo customers also conveyed a strong sense of loyalty, with two customers on its Advisory Board having moved companies and taken Domo with them. Customers have been channeling feedback into Domo’s community forum. The forum isn’t new, but a lot of emphasis was placed on listening to feedback during the event. Judging by the shouts in the room, it sounds like some much-needed requests have been answered - and some of the simplest updates were the most appreciated.

We’ll look forward to practical examples to follow, as use cases start to be established.

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