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Snowflake could heat up martech with a little help from IT


By Kate Kaye, The Drum

October 12, 2020 | 6 min read

After the largest software IPO ever, cloud company Snowflake has yet to garner much recognition from marketers despite offering services many of them use. But that may change as marketing and IT departments become more closely aligned.


After the largest ever software IPO, cloud company Snowflake has yet to garner much recognition from marketers.

When cloud company Snowflake debuted in September on the New York Stock Exchange with the largest-ever software IPO, there was lots of talk about the firm’s ability to compete against the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure arena. The company also offers some serious data management and analytics services used by marketers.

Still, flush with venture cash and hype over its IPO, Snowflake has barely made a blip on the marketing tech radar screen in the US. That could change quickly.

Why? In part, because of a corporate pairing that once seemed unlikely. Trends are pointing to greater collaboration between marketing and IT. This growing union could provide greater tailwinds for the San Mateo-based Snowflake when it comes to attracting marketer interest.

Snowflake provides analytic database infrastructure built specifically for the cloud. Its promise is faster computing and data sharing within the cloud systems and tech platforms clients already use. Built to work with Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, the technology separates the data computing layer from the storage layer, which is intended to speed up processes. For marketers, that means speedier data sharing, campaign measurement reporting or customer data visualization.

Because the company is built to store, manage and activate on massive volumes of data in the cloud, its core clientele are the IT and data engineering professionals who are typically in charge of procuring that sort of technology.

Snowflake’s core clientele will likely remain IT execs, but through an array of integrations it has with bigger names in martech, Snowflake could garner greater attention from the marketers. For example, Snowflake supports software including Adobe Campaign, Oracle Analytics, and data visualization platforms from Chartio and Looker.

Marketing and IT aligning over data

The worlds of CMOs and IT executives continue to collide. Marketer roles have evolved to incorporate things like customer data management, sophisticated campaign measurement and optimization techniques. That means more coordination with IT. For instance, customer data platforms used by marketers to combine and unify separate customer data sources overlap with IT capabilities such as master data management, so using them often requires working more closely together.

“There are trends that are coming to a head that are changing the nature of marketing analytics and maybe making data management more of a function within marketing analytics,” says Gartner analyst Lizzy Foo Kune. “It’s a huge shift. IT is actually one of the biggest supporters of what [marketers] do. They’re increasingly consulted by their colleagues in IT for what they need.”

Enter the chief marketing intelligence officer

A Snowflake guide for marketers emphasizes the company’s cloud-based data warehousing services and hints at its strategy when it comes to attracting marketers. It refers to the “new role as chief marketing (Intelligence) officers,” noting, “forward-thinking marketers are starting to address the challenge of unifying multiple data streams by moving their data to the cloud.”

Yet, the company aims to partner with, not replace other technologies based in the cloud, says Snowflake’s director of product marketing Ganesh Subramanian. Rather than go head-to-head with entrenched martech providers, Snowflake is looking to become the layer of data computing infrastructure that makes other tools perform better.

Salesforce provides some thrust

Among its best-known partners and boosters: Salesforce. Not only is Salesforce Ventures a Snowflake investor, it’s a partner. A recent extension of their partnership allows clients of both firms to move Salesforce data to Snowflake’s cloud data warehouse and then analyze it using Salesforce’s well-known Einstein Analytics and Tableau data visualization tools.

Snowflake chief executive officer Frank Slootman told Protocol’s Tom Krazit in April, “So I said, ‘Hey, we can work together.’ We can make that a full thing where you go into Salesforce, you surrender your credentials, you select the clouds you want to have on Snowflake, and it just shows up there.” He continued, “then Salesforce data can be combined with other data — marketing data, Covid-19 data, supply chain data, original data — and it will just create this effect, where your data doesn't sit in containers and can only marginally be used.”

Smaller brands also getting some big-time data help

Brands including Vistaprint are currently using tools from Snowflake partner Supermetrics to pull data into Snowflake from hundreds of disparate customer data sources and share that data with select customers.

“Traditionally Snowflake and similar enterprise-grade data warehousing solutions have been primarily serving big corporations with huge budgets and were long projects spanning over years at best,” said Andy Kozak, head of data engineering services at Supermetrics, a global marketing data automation company.

Marketers without giant IT infrastructure setups want more advanced data warehouse systems to gather data from siloed platforms — such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google — for things like building ad spending and attribution models or for multichannel reporting.

“Snowflake represents this new modern data warehouse technology,” says Kozak. “These solutions were used primarily to store financial or operational data. In recent years, data warehousing technology has advanced drastically, and at the same time, businesses have started to look for easy provision technology that does not require an IT department to run.”

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