Snowflake looks to ASEAN channel to propel growth

Snowflake looks to ASEAN channel to propel growth

Ash Willis and Sanjay Deshmukh believe it's all about aligning with the right partners.

Ash Willis and Sanjay Deshmukh (Snowflake)

Ash Willis and Sanjay Deshmukh (Snowflake)

Credit: Snowflake

Snowflake is seeing “good returns on their investments” into the ASEAN channel ecosystem and has plans to continue its efforts to capture a bigger share of the region’s booming market.

Globally, Snowflake has seen year-on-year revenue growth of over 50 per cent in the first quarter of its 2024 financial year alone, amounting to over US$590 million, with a net revenue retention rate of 151 per cent.

There has also been a 29 per cent year-on-year growth in the total number of customers to 8,167.

That success has only been possible due to its growing channel ecosystem, particularly in highly diverse geographies like Southeast Asia, where local partners have better purview and expertise in managing customer demands on the ground, according to Sanjay Deshmukh, senior regional vice president for ASEAN and India at Snowflake.

“Developing a channel ecosystem is a core part of our business strategy,” he said.

“Given the diversity in Southeast Asia, it makes it that much more important than if I was managing a homogenous territory, where, theoretically speaking, we could have developed all the skills to cover the market.”

Ash Willis, Snowflake’s vice president of partners and alliances for Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ), echoed Deshmukh by sharing that the vendor's go-to-market strategy for Southeast Asia involves managing it as individual and separate countries instead of one bloc.

“The obvious challenge is going to come down to language barrier and there's no easy fix for that, regardless of the industry that you operate in," said Willis.

“Some of the basics that we’ve been doing is building teams in those markets that can spend more time closer to partners and help them develop their strategy to go after a particular market. 

“APJ is not one market – it’s a cluster of individual countries [and] that’s even more so once you get to ASEAN, so making those investments and putting people on the ground where they can really drive value is one of the key things that we’ve done.”

In addition to focusing on hiring the “right people” to support local partners, Snowflake has also invested deeply in localising its partner enablement content. Willis admitted that while it’s a massive undertaking to localise content in every country from the get-go, they have decided to prioritise key ASEAN markets.

Keen eye on Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines

Deshmukh said Snowflake’s top three target markets are Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

“The opportunities are everywhere as customers have realised that it is important for them to leverage data as an asset in terms of driving transformation,” he said.

“Having said that, since we are in the early stage of the journey, prioritisation is extremely important for us. We can't spread ourselves thin and just try to go after every single opportunity. With that in mind, Singapore without a doubt has become the number one priority given the maturity of the country and the economy across all sectors.”

Indonesia is next on the list due to its sheer market potential as a trillion-dollar economy with a population of nearly 300 billion.

Deshmukh added that Indonesia also has a bustling start-up ecosystem with over 2000 start-ups being built currently, which he hopes “have a huge need” for a data platform like Snowflake.

As demand rises in Indonesia, vendors like Snowflake do however have to contend with its strong regulations around data localisation and sovereignty. This is why the vendor offered its cloud services to customers in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Asia Pacific (Jakarta) Region back in April; customers were demanding for localised cloud infrastructure that abided with the country’s emerging legislation.

“One of the main requirements from customers has been on having a local deployment and now I would say that the conversation is pretty much in all the ASEAN countries,” said Deshmukh. “But it hasn’t reached that [regulatory] level for the rest of the markets.

“That’s the reason why we are only in Indonesia, but we serve the rest of the region from Singapore.”

The third priority market for Snowflake is the Philippines because the vendor has seen some of the “highest cloud adoption for businesses” in the country.

Deshmukh said that it’s likely due to factors like fewer regulations around hosting data outside of the country, and a lack of deep technical skills pushing customers to seek an external cloud service for their business needs.

Snowflake officially launched in the Philippines in October 2022 via a partnership with Globe Telecom as a means of expanding across Southeast Asia.

“Those are the top three markets that we’re developing our business in,” said Deshmukh. “We are also expanding to Thailand and Malaysia and interest is emerging in other ASEAN markets – we are responding to that through Singapore.”

Relying on partners to propel growth

Beyond meeting regional demand through Singapore, Willis added that Snowflake has local partners in emerging markets that “are doing some great work for us” and that the “level of interest is building every single month”.

To further propel the business across Southeast Asia, Willis and Deshmukh are focusing their efforts on building strong partnerships with organisations that align with Snowflake.

While having the right team in place is vital to sufficiently support partners and enable “strong growth” across the business, Willis said it’s also about picking the right partners in the first place to enable a successful channel strategy. 

“It has really been [about making] sure that we pick and align with the right partners,” said Willis. “They've really matched up with our growth strategy and we have a super diverse ecosystem ranging from premier partners to traditional integrators, particularly the global system integrators (GSIs), cloud partners and more recently data cloud partners. They made their priorities and we're really starting to see some good return on those investments.”

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