Salesforce, Snowflake partnership moves customer data in real time across systems

Salesforce is the best selling CRM in the world, and Snowflake is one of the top cloud data lakes. The latter lets customers store and manage massive amounts of unstructured data. When you mix the two services, it has the potential to be a powerful combination.

The two companies have been working together for some time, but ahead of the Dreamforce customer conference in San Francisco next week, they announced an enhancement to that partnership where data can flow freely between the Snowflake data repository and the Salesforce customer data platform (CDP).

The idea, says David Schmaier, president and chief product officer at Salesforce, is to provide, to the extent possible, a single, up-to-date customer record in real time with the ultimate goal of optimizing the customer experience based on what the company knows about you.

He says that Salesforce starts with the core belief that companies with the best data can build the smartest machine learning models. “If we can enrich and unify and deepen the data, then your AI can do more, and if your AI can do more, then your customer interactions are that much more tailored and personalized,” Schmaier explained.

But to get to that point requires a CDP, a tool that collects all the data about a customer's interactions with a company in one central repository. The CDP operates best with real-time data, and Snowflake can be the source of that data. It helps that Schmaier says the company’s CDP customers tend to use both tools, making the partnership even more valuable for both companies.

Christian Kleinerman, SVP of product at Snowflake, says that while the relationship goes back long before this year, this level of integration is new. “[We talked about] how we could bring Salesforce CRM system data onto the Snowflake data cloud, then let customers create interesting solutions, interesting outcomes, but also feed that data back into Salesforce itself -- and that is at the heart of the integration,” Kleinerman said.

The reality of integrating data across systems is rather daunting. Schmaier points out that customers often have hundreds or even thousands of data sources connected to the CDP, and when you think about the amount of data moving through Snowflake on top of that, it’s a tremendous amount of information they have to process to make this work.

While creating the best customer experience is the goal, the two companies realize this is the ideal, and as companies work to understand and process the data, it brings them closer to building personalized customer experiences at scale, which remains the holy grail of online sales.

One of the advantages of working with Snowflake is the notion of “zero copies,” which means with all this data floating around, they don’t have to make copies of it to make this work. Instead, Kleinerman says the technology takes advantage of references to point to the data.

“So instead of copying CDP data onto our mutual customers' Snowflake account, what Salesforce does is it leverages that data sharing technology to make the CDP data available for querying on the Snowflake side of our mutual customers. So now they can join it, enrich it or run it through machine learning. But if the data changes in Salesforce in the CDP, it is reflected in Snowflake in real time,” Kleinerman said.

Like many things being announced at (or ahead of) Dreamforce, this is not yet available, but will be in closed pilot starting this fall.