Snowflake Summit 2022: 3 Key Takeaways from Alation

By Matt Turner

Published on June 24, 2022

A landscape of Las Vegas during sun rise.

Last week the Alation team joined data leaders from all over the world for Snowflake Summit 2022 in Las Vegas. With over 10,000 people in attendance, it was truly an event for the entire data community.

Attendees were focused on one key question: how can we put data into action and make it accessible to everyone? To address this challenge, Snowflake has really moved the ball with new Data Cloud capabilities; sessions taught people how to use these new capabilities to make a difference.

Our theme was, “Alation Is the Treasure Map to Your Data,” but the real treasure was the people we met and the connections we made to move the industry forward.

Our 3 main takeaways from the event were:

  • Focus on data outcomes (and align them to your mission!)

  • Embrace data governance

  • Collaborate and have fun

Let’s dive in!

Focus on Data Outcomes

The Snowflake team kicked off the event off with a strong message on the future of data. Frank Slootman’s keynote began with the concept of mission alignment. In other words,, Slootman and the team are focused on what customers are trying to achieve and how a data strategy is now critical to those outcomes.

Across every industry, better understanding what the customer can achieve can make a huge impact. Snowflake is now making a big investment in this industry focus to help all customers meet these challenges. According to Slootman, “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?”

Learning from Snowflake’s many customers – specifically, what they want to achieve for their end-customers – empowers Snowflake leaders to custom-design a product that better meets the needs of that customer universe.

Frank Slootman’s on stage of Snowflake Summit 2022 in Las Vegas
Frank Slootman’s keynote emphasized the value of data governance in the Data Cloud.

Important to note? Slootman highlighted Snowflake’s 7 key areas of data (self) management, stressing that data governance empowered all of them.

The Snowflake Industry cloud sessions outlined how to put its core capabilities into action with an industry focus. In healthcare, data sharing and democratization is helping improve patient outcomes. Financial services leaders are using data sharing to meet key challenges and tackle ESG data. In the retail Data Cloud, Snowflake is helping organizations cope with the massive disruptions brought on by the pandemic.

Embrace Data Governance

Delivering those industry outcomes is the focus for the Alation team. As we’ve mentioned, our summit theme was, “Alation Is The Treasure Map to Your Data.” And while we’d love to take credit for this, it was actually a Snowflake employee who said it first. Alation (like a data treasure map) guides all Snowflake users to high-quality, trusted data. Powered by data governance, our interface ensures everyone has the access and context they need to use Data Cloud capabilities to their full potential.

The treasure map encompases three major areas:

1. Cloud Migration

At our booth, the ‘Treasure Map’ demo was one of the most popular. Visitors learned how data utilization across legacy and Data Cloud systems can show them which data to move (and speed up migrations!).

2. Governance as a Guide

In the catalog, active data governance empowers everyone with access to your ‘treasured’ data alongside crucial context so they know how to use it.

3. Compose, Your SQL Compass

Our Intelligent SQL editor Compose enables even non-technical users to query the Data Cloud, extracting valuable answers.

We took the treasure map theme to our booth at the summit. Judging from the non-stop demos, conversations, and test flights, visitors had no problem finding the Alation booth!

Ecolab CDO Jayant Damne pointing everyone to the data treasure map.
A group of people standing infront of Alation’s booth at Snowflake Summit 2022

Data Governance Partner of the Year

As Slootman said in the keynote, data governance is key to delivering outcomes. It’s also behind everything Alation does to make Snowflake customers successful. This is why we were so thrilled to receive the Snowflake Data Governance Partner of the Year award for 2022!

Receiving this award for a second time is a great honor and is a testament to the teamwork from both Alation and Snowflake (to learn more, check out our blog, which details our joint work with the CDMC and five achievements in Snowflake’s competency program!).

So how does data governance help people in the Data Cloud? For starters, it enables people to ‘zoom back’ from their data landscape and identify their most valuable data. They can then ‘zoom in’ and learn how to best use it.

For example, one of our joint customers in media has embraced the ‘all data’ theme and has over 200,000 tables in Snowflake. This unified view is a great asset to help them understand and better deliver great experiences to customers. But without the data catalog, they would not know where the most valued data is and how to use it.

Governance supports this powerful curation. By recognizing people that manage data, Alation enables them to curate that data and make that information available to everyone in real time. Active data governance extends to every use of the data; even as analysts write queries with Alation Compose, real-time flags signal if data is subject to compliance (and educate users on best practices).

Policy management, integrated into both Alation and Snowflake, ensures data is used properly at every step. People can easily create policies in Snowflake, enforce them from Alation, audit in a few clicks, and manage it all from Alation Policy Center. This capability makes policy enforcement much easier in the modern data stack, and can even accelerate a smarter, safer data migration.

These capabilities help teams deliver that mission alignment Slootman outlined. And Alation was recognized by Snowflake in awarding Alation 5 industry competencies for helping deliver this value.

Better Together: Collaborate and Have Fun

The Alation and Snowflake combination is a great story of collaboration and having fun working together. Just before the Summit we released the now-famous Alation Snowflake rap video. We continued that fun-spirited teamwork at the Summit as we met up with our customers and partners.

Data Mesh Learnings with Fifth Third Bank

First up was Kayleigh Lavorini, product owner – data strategy,​​ Fifth Third Bank. Her session ‘Building a Data Mesh: Fifth Third Bank’s Data Strategy Journey’ was jam-packed, standing room only, and even had a wait list!

Kayleigh and her team had one goal: to help everyone in their organization to make better data-driven decisions. For this, they knew they needed a self-service analytics environment. But to deliver on this vision, they were going to have to rethink everything.

They realized that data access and management needed to go beyond the central data teams. How could they decentralize access and management intelligently? The answer lay in a data mesh.

In her session, Kayleigh shared how her team used embedded design to enable smarter data access. To illustrate this, she likened data consumers to grocery-store shoppers. To find the right ingredients for their projects (AKA ‘recipes’), consumers need a ‘store’ with a thoughtful layout. Kayleigh and her team designed an integrated data platform ‘store’ to meet their needs. Now, with the Alation Data Catalog powering the Data Exchange Interaction Layer, users can find and access the data ‘ingredients’ they need to whip up an incredible meal – ahem, report – quickly and efficiently.

Kayleigh Lavorini presenting the Fifth Third data-mesh journey to a jam-packed room of Snowflake Summit attendees.

Scaling Data Literacy with Travelers Insurance

Theresa Peachey, AVP data management, enterprise data & analytics, Travelers, joined me on a show-floor theater to share their data culture journey.

Data is critical for insurers. It defines how they create products and helps them improve operations. It’s also key to improving how they interact with customers. For this reason, data literacy, or the ability to understand data and how to use it, is also critical to insurers.

Theresa and her team have a goal to bring data literacy to every single employee at Travelers. They have already reached 12,000 Travelers employees, and plan to reach the rest of the 45,000 soon.

To support this initiative, the Travelers team created a Data Culture Map. This map shows how data culture and data literacy can transform an organization. Take a look, and notice how folks move from the data siloed ‘Island of Despair’ to the desirable land of ‘Data Maturity Outcomes’ – with lots of milestones in between!

Snowflake is key to this journey, as it brings all their data together into one landscape. And Alation furnished the treasure map, helping Theresa’s team identify the right data to move and later guiding all users to that trusted data in Snowflake.

Matt Turner, Director Partner and Industry Marketing, at Alation and Theresa Peachey presenting on Snowflake Summit 2022 stage in Las Vegas.

Alation’s Role in Snowflake’s Marketing Stack

Finally, we heard from the Snowflake team about how they use Alation in their marketing stack.

All marketing teams face a diverse world of data, and the Snowflake team is no different. The Data Cloud is key to bringing that data together. But how does marketing use it wisely? The team revealed they’re using data sharing to innovate. That entails developing models in Snowflake and using GitHub to manage data and code.

Visibility for all marketers empowers the entire group to innovate, too. Alation brings documentation and discoverability to Snowflake’s marketing stack. This not only helps the wider group understand the marketing team’s work — it empowers leaders to ramp up new team members and collaborators faster.

Alation Makes a Splash

We didn’t just leave the collaboration and fun to the show floor. Attendees to the show were greeted by playful Alation and Snowflake signage as they arrived at the Las Vegas Airport and along the strip.

Alation also hosted the Data Oasis Spectacular – the most talked about evening event at the Summit. Together with our partners – Women in Data, AWS, Bigeye, Immuta, Anomolo, FirstEigen (DataBuck), LightUp, Slalom. Tredence, Wavicle, and Validatar – we hosted this once-in-a-lifetime party, which included fire cannons, dancers, and even a splash mob!

The event started with a Women in Data Happy Hour hosted by Women in Data founder Sadie St. Lawrence, Snowflake’s VP of Marketing, Elise Bergeron, and our own CMO Tracy Eiler.

Things then kicked off with a fire show and more. This was a welcome chance for everyone to hang out after such busy and stimulating days at the Summit! But don’t take our word for it – check out the slideshow above to re-experience the evening!

What a Week!

As you can tell, this year’s Snowflake Summit was just a fantastic event. And in this blog, we still covered only some of what we were up to – there were fun runs, Cube Interviews, and we even found time to become data heroes (check us out!).

Alation’s team taking action hero pictures at Snowflake Summit 2022 picture booth

With the strong vision for the future of data, the front and center role for data governance, and the amazing collaboration and community we all experience, this Snowflake Summit is going to be an event we all remember for a long time!

  • Focus on Data Outcomes
  • Embrace Data Governance
  • Data Governance Partner of the Year
  • Better Together: Collaborate and Have Fun
  • Data Mesh Learnings with Fifth Third Bank
  • Scaling Data Literacy with Travelers Insurance
  • Alation’s Role in Snowflake’s Marketing Stack
  • Alation Makes a Splash
  • What a Week!
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