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Snowflake India’s Country Manager shares how COVID-19 accelerated cloud adoption in India
Snowflake India's journey so far and vision ahead
Data can make online advertising more effective, increasing its value for the AdTech industry: Vimal Venkatram, Snowfla...

Snowflake India’s Country Manager shares how COVID-19 accelerated cloud adoption in India

Data can make online advertising more effective, increasing its value for the AdTech industry: Vimal Venkatram, Snowfla...
  • In an interview with Vimal Venkatram, Country Manager, Snowflake India, we discuss how COVID-19 has accelerated cloud adoption in India.
  • He tells us how important a role does cloud, data analytics, and business intelligence play in the AdTech sector and vision ahead.
The advent of COVID-19 outbreak last year pushed Indian organisations towards cloud adoption and accelerated its growth in our country. They have shifted data from servers to the cloud, the remote datacenters and software services provided by the likes of Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google. Now that the world has become a little more digitised and is generating more data than ever before, Snowflake and other cloud companies have benefited from this shift to remote work.

Snowflake, a data cloud platform that allows businesses to consolidate their data onto one platform, was officially launched on Amazon Web Services in India in May 2020. Since then, it has on-boarded Swiggy, epiFi, Freight Tiger and Urban Company, to mention a few. It aims to help organisations consolidate their data in a safe and reliable data environment, offering real-time insights to help customers make data-driven financial decisions.

According to IDC's COVID-19 Impact on IT spending Survey, as of May 2020, 64% of the organisations in India are realising the benefits of moving to the cloud in terms of acquiring new customers, retaining the existing customer base, and achieving above-average profitability. Sectors like education for online classes, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and media saw rapid adoption of the cloud-based solutions.

Since organisations have become more data-driven in their decision-making, cloud technology has emerged as the front runner for the optimal harnessing of insights from data.

We caught up with Vimal Venkatram, Country Manager, Snowflake India to understand how important a role cloud, data analytics, and business intelligence plays in the AdTech sector, the company’s goal for 2021 and its vision ahead.


Q. 2020 was a challenging year. But how has your journey been?

2020 may have been a challenging year globally, but in India, we witnessed rapid growth in cloud adoption and data and analytics. More organisations, both start-ups and enterprises, are realising the cost and operational benefits of moving to the cloud. India is definitely well placed compared to other economies, especially when we think of cloud computing and data analytics.

Q. How has Snowflake’s Data Cloud benefitted various industries? Would you like to highlight a few use cases?

Every company or industry has its own unique business requirements; hence there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We carefully analyse their challenges and requirements before partnering with them to find the best-suited solution that addresses their needs.

One of our first customers was Swiggy, India’s largest food delivery platform, which caters to millions of customers every month. Swiggy was experiencing challenges in their data warehouse, which were causing frequent memory leaks that blocked or stalled queries, especially during peak hours, and these ultimately affected their business. With Snowflake, 90 percent of Swiggy’s queries were executed in less than 100 seconds. This enabled more drivers to accept delivery requests.

Another notable example is our partnership with Freight Tiger. As an end-to-end logistics network, Freight Tiger was looking for a platform that can seamlessly handle data from various sources, including semi-structured data. Additionally, Freight Tiger needed a solution that could support their scale in business whilst maintaining their current team strength. As a result, Freight Tiger is now able to run ad hoc queries and retrieve up-to-date data from a combination of various sources, with the assurance that the data is always available for the team.

We also have a partnership with epiFi, a neo banking startup. epiFi is on a mission to help consumers in India understand their finances, maximise their savings, and spend intelligently. With the help of an innovative and secure platform, epiFi will consolidate the user’s financial services and products in one interface for a frictionless banking experience. Using the insights derived from the user’s activities, brand interactions, transactions and user feedback, epiFi will offer guidance and direction to Indian consumers in managing their finances.

Q. What do you think sets you apart in the industry?

Snowflake’s platform enables organisations to securely share data across their business ecosystem. With its cloud-built architecture, data sharing eliminates the need to move or copy data. Those who are granted access simply reference the data in a controlled and secure manner, including across regions, cloud providers, and even companies.

Snowflake provides multi-cloud ability, data sharing capability, and an easy-to-use service. The service is charged by per second billing, where the compute and storage operations are charged separately. Snowflake’s platform delivers seamless data collaboration, reduces costs, reveals new business insights, and helps strengthen business relationships. This is what sets us apart from the other industry players.

In addition, Snowflake’s unique architecture enables customers to run multiple workloads across multiple teams without resource contention, thus maximising performance and efficiency. These include data engineering, data lake, data warehouse, data science, data applications, and data sharing. Start-ups that are already on the cloud can adopt Snowflake to manage their workloads. And for traditional enterprise customers with on-premises data centres, this is a great way to move to the cloud seamlessly.

Q. What are some of the measures that analytics companies can take to keep up in the unfortunate times?

In the face of the unprecedented challenges brought upon by COVID-19, the key to remaining agile is a better use of data. Organisations need to make fast, data-driven decisions, which have accelerated moving data to the cloud. The world around us will continue to change, and organisations need insights they can act on to adapt and transform. Considering the needs of the current moment, it’s clear that speed and access are the foundations of true transformation. For modern data leaders to increase the rewards of their cloud platform while adapting to the current crisis, we need to bring together critical data sets and increase access so businesses can unlock insights. The data and analytics companies need to be prepared for the worse situation. At challenging times, it is very important for the companies to keep customers at the centre of the conversation. There needs to be focus on customer requirements and adaptation to the business models the way customers are changing in terms of behaviour. In a nutshell, adaptability, agility, and quick execution are some of the key factors I would advise any company in this space.

Q. How important a role does cloud, data analytics, and business intelligence play in the AdTech sector?

Data analytics plays a crucial role in the AdTech sector in introducing new, more effective ways for marketers to get their online ads seen and generate a positive response. With big data analytics, AdTech companies can measure the responses to their ads, determining if audiences and users are behaving in the way they intended.

We partner with Accordant Media who are getting results 20x faster with Snowflake compared to their previous solution. We also partner with Greenhouse, a marketing agency that leverages data to help clients understand their customers’ journeys and make effective digital advertising decisions.

Data also gives AdTech businesses and other companies the opportunity to craft advertisements that are individually tailored to specific customers. Data analytics considers the behaviours, lifestyles, actions, motivations, and other factors pertaining to their prospective customers. At the same time, big data can be used to make sure the ad is seen at the best moment, factoring in the timeliness of the advertising strategy.

Creating an ad that speaks to an individual customer at the exact right time they need to see the ad will register a positive response. In the end, data can make online advertising more effective, increasing its value for the AdTech industry.

Technologies have been developed that essentially use cloud computing to eliminate the middleman partners like ad management services from Facebook and Google. Instead, companies can use platforms like Advertising-Platform-as-a-Service (APaaS) to achieve the desired results. This will result in lower mark-ups, bringing the overall price down.

Q. How can data analytics & business intelligence help programmatic advertising?

There is a fundamental shift happening in advertising, with programmatic ad buying extending its impact from display to all platforms. Data-driven algorithms drive media optimisation to display the right messages to the right audiences across the web, TV streaming devices, or wherever they are.

By leveraging Snowflake, customers can access their data in a safe and secure manner. This cross-channel, log-level data enables marketing campaign managers, ad buyers, and marketing analytics teams to help run full-funnel attribution and improve data analysis. This advanced analytics environment has the added benefit of keeping the data in a single place, adding an extra layer of privacy compliance.

Q. How can marketers make the most of their marketing budgets by using analytics?

While over the years investment in data analytics has been on the rise, there is still room to grow in terms of deriving maximum value from these investments. The key challenge happens to be the siloed approach of traditional brands. There is also a proliferation of marketing channels and tactics, making it imperative for companies to be deterministic about which channel or tactic is leading to a sale or any other desired outcome (form fill, a visit to a store, etc.). It’s here that data analytics is playing an important role. Attribution models use data to stitch together customer journeys, establishing all the channels a customer touched on their way to making a purchase and then leveraging data science to establish the relative influence of each of the channels on the end outcome. Attribution helps companies establish the true ROI of any marketing investment, by considering not just direct outcomes, but also indirect ones.

Q. How do you foresee the growth of Snowflake in the India market?

The growth will take place in three main areas, first being to grow champions across the key verticals like financial services, telecommunications, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare. After all, customers are your best testimonials. Secondly, we are planning to create an entire data ecosystem through our unique capabilities such as the Snowflake Data Marketplace, where data consumers and data providers alike can create new market opportunities and generate more revenue for their respective businesses. This is where we see true growth potential. Thirdly, our channel partners are an extension of Snowflake. We are confident that with the support of our wonderful channel partners here in India, we will grow our business.

Q. What is your vision for the company?

One of our key goals in India is to increase our reach and expand our footprint into the verticals in which we have seen success globally. Some of these verticals include financial services, telecommunications, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare, with digital cloud-native companies forming a critical segment across these industries. Another key goal for us is to build the channel ecosystem across India because we truly believe that partners are vital for Snowflake as we progress along this growth journey.