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Zuora plugs its data model into Snowflake for joined-up analysis of customer KPIs

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright July 26, 2022
Subscription management vendor Zuora packages up its data model for analysis alongside a wider range of customer success KPIs in Snowflake.

Data tunnel concept © ProMotion -
(© ProMotion - Adobe Stock)

The more connected that businesses become to their customers, the more important it is to track and analyse all the data surrounding that relationship. With that in mind, subscription management vendor Zuora today announces a new integration to cloud data platform company Snowflake, to enable near real-time analysis of key metrics.

Organizations can already analyze subscription data inside Zuora using its own analytics tools, but the new data pipeline brings that dataset into Snowflake, where it can be analysed using a range of BI tools alongside data from other sources, such as CRM, ERP, customer experience and support applications. This is the first time that Zuora has packaged its proprietary data model in this way for external analysis. Shakir Karim, VP, Product Management, Platform at Zuora says:

We essentially send all that data in from our three core applications — Billing, Revenue and Collect — into Snowflake as a shared data set ...

This is not only the transactional data, but this is also the analytical dataset — the data model. They can run their MRR metrics, they can run churn analysis, they can run late payment predictive analytics, right from Snowflake.

Comparing KPIs

Adding data from other sources to that analysis makes it possible to compare these subscription metrics against other key metrics such as product usage and inventory, support tickets, sales and marketing contacts, survey responses and so on. Karim comments:

It gives our mutual customers the ability to not only grab the Zuora dataset, but also their extended datasets, join it so that they can get their subscriber results, including any subscriber trends and recurring revenue opportunities, by having a unified view of all their data in addition to this Zuora data ...

They're using all these extended data sets to truly evaluate, what are their subscribers doing today and where are they trending towards? They're essentially using that data to provide the insights and then jumping back into Zuora and taking action on that, whether it's making pricing updates, or sending promotional offers, or doing a campaign to re-engage any of those subscribers that they feel could be at risk, whether it's a churn risk analysis, or a late payment analysis, or even an upgrade opportunity.

That analysis can then trigger actions that might protect a renewal or lead to upsell opportunities. He gives an example:

Imagine you had your app usage metrics side by side with the Zuora metrics. You're viewing into a user that in Zuora, you're noticing that they're paying late. And now you're noticing that they're not logging in, or their actual click throughs have dropped in the core application. Those two could be married together ...

Now this is an opportunity for us to proactively reach out to that customer to see what are ways we can re-engage them.

Managed data pipeline

The Zuora Secure Data Share for Snowflake provides a managed data warehouse of Zuora data within Snowflake, fed by a managed data pipeline that automatically sends a change-driven data stream to Snowflake, syncing data in under 10 minutes on average. Providing this as a packaged service frees up precious data science resources that would normally be needed to set up this kind of facility. Karim says:

You can imagine building a data pipeline is quite difficult. It's not only having data scientists available, but also the data engineers to build, design, manage, monitor and upgrade over time ...

If we can help our customers by building the solution, and it just works out of the gate, out of the box, and they don't have to manage it and maintain it, then it's a win for them. Because once the data is in Snowflake, they can do what they need to do from there.

This kind of joined-up analysis is increasingly needed in today’s market conditions, believes Zuora. Karim elaborates:

The offering is more important now than ever, just based on the market uncertainty and the conditions we're seeing. Our customers being able to understand their subscribers, and what their trends are, and then proactively taking action on that, is more important now than ever.

My take

My recent conversation with Zuora's Amy Konary on how the company manages customer success underlined the importance of establishing and tracking KPIs that measure success in achieving customer outcomes. This are often very far removed from metrics about their subscription itself or even their usage of the product. It also includes measuring success in achieving business goals such as launching usage pricing, or going multi-national.

Now think about what KPIs Zuora's own customers might want to measure to track the success of their own customers. These will vary widely by industry — for a retailer, it might be experience related, such as speed of in-store pick-up after placing an online order, while for a media business, it might look at correlations between content consumption and specialist subscriptions.

The common factor is that, in an XaaS world — where XaaS stands for Everything-as-a-Service — these are companies that are nurturing an ongoing connection to their customers, which is monetized through a subscription relationship, but is maintained through ongoing engagement with their customers.

Data is a big part of that — experience data, product usage data, business data. These businesses have to collect and analyze it to help build a picture of their engagement with the customer, along with the extent to which their customers are reaching the outcomes that the product or service helps them to achieve, and the extent to the business is working in sync with what they're trying to achieve. Very few of these KPIs are measurable in a packaged way at the moment, and therefore the new connection to Snowflake, while it still requires some data skills to get it up and running, is a big step towards helping Zuora customers more quickly get the KPIs in place that they need to measure.

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