CONTRIBUTOR
Custom Content Editor and Podcast Host,
Techstrong

This week saw companies from around the globe traveling to the Snowflake Summit 2023, the world’s biggest data and artificial intelligence conference, held in Las Vegas, NV. The event lasted four days, beginning Monday, and was a cool event with a flurry of information and announcements.

On day three of the summit, I had the opportunity to chill for a bit (I will stop with the puns now), and I had the pleasure of speaking with Patrick Barch, the senior director of product management at Capital One Software, about recent summit announcements.

Capital One Software had some big news to celebrate regarding its partnership with Snowflake, a data cloud company. Below is our conversation.

Amanda Razani: Patrick, you shared some big news here at Snowflake Summit 2023. Your company was selected as the Powered by Snowflake Innovation Partner of the Year. So, could you please talk about that?

Patrick Barch: Yes, we’re really proud of last year when we launched Capital One Software and Slingshot at this exact forum. We weren’t totally sure what the reception was going to be, and we were absolutely blown away by the attendees’ interest in our solution to help companies maximize the value of their Snowflake investment; and to see the hard work that we’ve put into advancing the product over the past year pay off with something like that was really a feather in our cap.

Amanda Razani: Awesome. So, can you, for those that may not know, share exactly what this service provides to companies?

Patrick Barch: Sure. Capital One Software is the enterprise B2B SaaS division of Capital One. We’re focused on bringing data and cloud management products to market. Our first offering is Capital One Slingshot. And it’s all about helping companies maximize the value of their Snowflake investment by enabling efficient use of the platform. And so, shorthand, helping companies wring every last ounce of efficiency out of every dollar spent.

Amanda Razani: Gotcha. So, rewind a little bit – what led you to choose Snowflake and form your collaboration?

Patrick Barch: So back in 2017, when we started our journey to the cloud, one of the first decisions that we made was to adopt Snowflake as our data cloud. We were looking for a technology that would scale with our pretty demanding users, and our pretty demanding workloads. It scales darn near infinitely instantly when you need it to. It enables our 6000 analysts to query the same data without impacting each other’s workloads. It has several really great building blocks to create governance because we’re a bank; we need to protect our data. And so, choosing Snowflake was one of the first decisions we made and we’ve been super happy with the partnership and the platform’s ability to scale with us over the last six years as we’ve modernized our ecosystem and added even more workloads.

Amanda Razani: So, do you have any current use cases that you can share with the Slingshot app? And, where do you see this app being used in the enterprise?

Patrick Barch: So, Slingshot is a commercial version of an app that we use internally to help manage our spend. This week, we announced a bunch of new features enabling additional customization and deeper insights, broadening the scope of our recommendations to help us not just save money, but also highlight opportunities where customers might want to spend a bit more to get increased performance, because maybe their users are suffering from some performance challenges. And the third item was around an Intelligent Query Advisor. You know, in the cloud, in any cloud platform, for the first time ever, poorly written queries cost you money because they don’t let your compute environment sleep. And so, our tool enables customers and Capital One to identify their least optimized queries and get advice on how they can rewrite them to be more efficient, more performant and more cost effective.

Amanda Razani: Awesome. And do you have any customers that you can cite, or any examples of how they’ve used this and seen an impact?

Patrick Barch: Yeah, the feedback over the last year – so we’ve spent the last year making sure that we’re building the right product for the right customer – and the feedback has been very positive. We’ve been very pleased with what we’re seeing. We’ve had one customer tell us that it’s like having an extra data engineer on staff for a fraction of the cost. We’ve had one customer tell us that they’re thrilled with all of the automation the platform offers, because it’s replaced a lot of manual activity that they used to do manually. And we’ve also been pleased with the breadth of industries that the tool supports. One of the first questions we were asked last year was if this is just something for financial services or life sciences or other highly regulated industries. And no, we’re seeing adoption from consumer retail companies, from financial services companies, from other tech companies and from industrial companies. And so, you know, it’s nice to see that the feedback has been consistent, regardless of what the company does.

Amanda Razani: And so, you know, the big topic of the year is AI and of course machine learning too. So where does this fit in with that?

Patrick Barch: It’s a very trendy topic. And there can be a temptation to just run headlong at this. You know, I believe in the value of the technology, but it’s still a shiny new object, even if it is valuable. I think what companies need to be aware of as they chase down these use cases is – are they achieving the benefits commensurate with the increase in cost? AI workloads and ML workloads are big; they’re going to be pricier than you’re used to. And so, with a tool like Slingshot, you can better manage that workload, and you can better manage your spend against those workloads to ensure that you’re achieving commensurate value with the increase in cost. And so, we’re excited about the ability to offer our customers a way to adopt these new technologies while staying well managed.

Amanda Razani: Awesome. So, just in general, what are your thoughts about the Snowflake Summit? What are the key issues that you’re hearing as you walk the area?

Patrick Barch: Summit’s fun. It’s nice to talk to all the other companies that are operating in this ecosystem. I love chatting with customers and prospects that are really living a lot of the same challenges that we did internally. The cloud forces you to adopt a new way of working. Yesterday’s model of a central Enterprise Data Governance team that handles all of the requests of all of your business units – like, that doesn’t fly anymore. The cloud is too big. It enables you to do too many things. Your teams are too demanding. And so, it’s forcing companies to adopt a more federated approach to their data ecosystem and enabling business teams through central tools and platforms like Slingshot to achieve business value. And so, you know, I’m continually excited by the expertise that I feel like we can share as Capital One, having walked this journey over the last six years.

Amanda Razani: Wonderful. So, any final thoughts or last words you’d like to share today?

Patrick Barch: You know, we’re very thankful for the customers that have been with us for the initial part of our journey. They’ve given us great feedback. We’re thrilled at how we’ve been able to translate that feedback into even more value, and we’re just continually excited about bringing newer and better versions of the product to market.

Amanda Razani: Well, I’m excited for you and congratulations again on the recognition. That’s an awesome honor.

Patrick Barch: Thank you very much.