After fueling its early momentum with “bleeding-edge early adopters,” Snowflake is building its next wave of growth on big companies driven in part by “a fear of missing out,” according to CEO Frank Slootman.
I have to confess that it was only about six months ago that I got the YOLO thing (“you only live once,” for those of you even more uncool than I), and only about six weeks ago when I cracked the FOMO code. So when I heard the extremely quotable Slootman mention the “fear of missing out” factor on Snowflake’s Nov. 30 earnings call, it was clear that something important is underway.
During the Q&A portion of the call, Slootman was asked if the “macro uncertainty” is resulting in significant changes in customer behavior around the volumes and/or types of data they’re ingesting via the Snowflake Data Cloud.
And as is always the case with Slootman, his answer provided compelling insight into how business customers are approaching the existential challenge of becoming data-driven digital businesses.
“No, we’re not really seeing that,” Slootman said. “We’ve done a lot of traveling during the quarter inside and outside the U.S. and one of the sentiments I want to share is that we’re sort of past the ‘bleeding-edge early adopter class’ customer that we have acquired over the last several years.”
And that set the stage for the outbreak of FOMO fever in the data cloud, which Slootman said has been triggered by big companies realizing that if they don’t quickly become experts in finding, ingesting, managing, and analyzing data, that fever is going to become deadly.
I found it a fascinating revelation on where some businesses stand here at the end of 2022, when we’ve all heard about “digital transformation” non-stop for the past three or four years. Well, if mastering your use of data is an indispensable element of becoming a truly digital enterprise — and I would say it sure as heck is — then Slootman’s FOMO comment indicates two important things:
Those customers need to close that data-capability gap quickly; and
Snowflake needs to create new tools and solutions and approaches to hope these FOMO patients recover and establish full data health as rapidly as possible.
So Slootman went on to describe how this new traunch of Snowflake customers—the FOMO segment — is very different from the first wave of “bleeding-edge early adopters” in their motivations, their capabilities, and their needs.
“We’re now into the people that didn’t sign up early on,” Slootman continued.
“And their overriding sentiment is somewhat a fear of missing out. And they’re looking at us like, ‘We can’t be left behind — help us catch up.’
“A lot of times, the challenges are based on their ability to harness the technology in terms of the skills and the expertise — so our mix of tools is going to evolve to really help customers address that gap because they want to accelerate, they want to lean in, they want to move faster,” Slootman said. “Very literally, their overriding sentiment is, ‘We’re afraid to be left behind. This is how important this is.’
“And they are clearly identifying what they think is holding them up in terms of getting there.”
So there’s still a great deal of work to be done by some — many? — most?— companies in becoming world-class data organizations. It would no doubt be a very valuable exercise — perhaps not always pleasant, but valuable nonetheless — for your organization to do a candid self-assessment to determine if you tilt more toward the bleeding-edge early adopters, or the FOMO patients racing to catch up, or possibly even those who aren’t even aware that there’s a potentially dangerous data-bug going around.
Frank Slootman, thanks as always for using plain and powerful language to capture what’s going on today!
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