Snowflake Summit 2022 - CEO Frank Slootman on the changing data needs of enterprise customers

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels June 15, 2022 Audio mode
Summary:
By building on its cloud foundations and using an extensive partner ecosystem, Snowflake wants its customers to make more of the huge amount of data they hold.

Snowflake
Frank Slootman

Snowflake plans to create a fully integrated data stack to help senior executives and their teams develop innovative solutions to fast-changing business demands.

In his keynote speech at the company’s Snowflake Summit 2022 in Las Vegas, CEO Frank Slootman explained how the company is now building on its expertise in the cloud to provide a host of new capabilities for its customers. While Snowflake has excelled at helping companies move legacy databases to the cloud, he said, the aim now is to help senior executives make the most of the ever-increasing amounts of information their companies hold:

Snowflake is not just a database with infrastructure. Our goal as a company – and this is really important for everybody to understand and appreciate – is much bigger than running databases in the cloud. All the layers of the stack are incredibly important individually, but they’re even more important when they’re fully integrated.

Snowflake’s aim is to be like a one-stop shop for CIOs and other C-suite executives who want to make the most of their company’s data. By either developing its own tools or by working with partners, Snowflake says it intends to create an integrated data stack for enterprises which will cover a range of key areas, namely monetisation, marketplace, app development, workload execution, live data, and infrastructure. Slootman explained:

That's really our core vision of the company – to bring about this entire stack. If our leading motif as a company is ‘mobilising the world's data’, then the key to that is really unleashing software development from the bottom up in any form or shape that you can possibly come up with.

Slootman said there has been “huge velocity” at Snowflake during the past three years, despite the pandemic. Since 2019, the company’s revenues have increased from $96 million to $1.2 billion today, with half the Fortune 500 as major customers. Slootman argues that customer base should make it easier for executives to find like-minded partners in other organizations that want to exploit data.

A crucial mechanism here will be the Snowflake Data Cloud, which aims to create a single, integrated and cross-cloud data platform to eliminate technical and institutional silos, he added:

We've done so much work over the last few years, focusing on what we call workload optimisation, which means bringing legacy workloads to the cloud. And we will be doing that for next 10 years, 20 years – pretty much indefinitely.

Evolving

However, Slootman added that the types of engagement that Snowflake is involved with are now beginning to change. The broad recognition of the value of data means that the conversations the firm is having with companies around the globe are more about meeting business objectives than just bringing legacy workloads to the cloud:

Our conversations with our customers have really changed. We are now talking about what you are doing for a living – what is your core mission? And how can your data strategy really help your business to achieve that mission?

Slootman gave an example of an engagement he had with an insurance company CEO. This CEO said he had policies, claims and all kinds of other data that the company couldn’t understand. Working through this engagement helped Snowflakes to start thinking much more carefully about how it could create tools, such as the Snowflake Data Cloud, that are tailored to the demands of related organisation in specific verticals:

From that point on, we really started to verticalize ourselves – to develop an industry focus in all our geographies, wherever those companies are from, and we've staffed like crazy inside those industry specialisms so that we can become a worthy partner to the business.

To elucidate his point, Slootman pointed to Snowflake’s interactions with companies in other sectors, including retail, healthcare and life sciences. One of these engagements includes Novartis, who’s data chief explained to diginomica recently how the firm worked with Snowflake to reduce the time it takes to create life-saving drugs from 12 to nine years. Slootman said working closely with blue-chip companies to meet challenging requirements is crucial to the future direction of the business:

Companies are telling us they need to become entirely data-driven. So, these are very, very different conversations than just bringing legacy workloads to the cloud.

As part of its extended approach to the data stack, Snowflake announced a slew of products, including Unistore, a new workload approach that allows companies to work with transactional and analytical data together on a single platform. The aim of Unistore is to extend the applicability of the Snowflake Data Cloud and make it easier for organisations to share and enrich the information they already hold.

Snowflake also announced a new Native Application Framework that will allow developers to build applications and monetise them on Snowflake Marketplace, which currently allows companies to use a variety of third-party datasets. Snowflake clients, including Capital One Software, LiveRamp and Informatica, have already developed applications for use cases including cloud cost management, identity resolution and data integration.

Slootman said Snowflake will continue to work with an ever-increasing range of partners to help senior executives find novel solutions to their business challenges – and without being restricted to a set of providers:

We have an extraordinary partner community and we greatly value that. So from the standpoint of the business model, it doesn't really matter to us whether we own the tool or somebody else does. We have a very different strategy than public cloud providers who want to check every box and be able to say to customers, here's the whole kit and caboodle. We're a best of breed company. And we provide choice.

Cybersecurity is one of the key areas where Snowflake is investing in its partner ecosystem. The aim is to ensure that its customers can pick best-of-breed applications that meet their business requirements and that run safely and securely on the Snowflake platform:

That is really what we want – tremendous choice, tremendous innovation, and then – when you use these products together – our real goal is to make it feel like all these tools are all coming from the same company. That’s hard to do. But we're going to make it as good as we possibly can.

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