Live Customer 360 Insights Using Snowflake Direct

Einstein Analytics (EA) and Tableau together offer the world’s leading analytics solution for anyone, anywhere using any data. EA is focused on providing actionable insights in the native CRM user experience and has best-in-class integration with CRM that allows you to analyze all your CRM data in a secure & scalable manner.

And then there is data that generally sits outside CRM such as ERP financial data (budget, cost, profit centers), product usage, inventory as well as data generated by modern sources such as IoT and mobile. Locked within these are insights that can help your sales team be more informed before their next call with the customer OR arm your support team with supplementary information needed to resolve a customer issue without switching tools.

At Salesforce, we believe in the importance of Customer 360 which is why Salesforce has partnered with Snowflake. Snowflake is a cloud data warehouse that can provide a single source of truth for all your data. If your business uses Snowflake, EA can help unlock and operationalize insights on all that data in the business user workflow.

This is why we are excited to announce that Einstein Analytics Direct for Snowflake will be Generally Available in Winter ’21*. With EA Direct, non-CRM data can remain in Snowflake and does not need to be moved into EA. Instead, EA will directly query Snowflake allowing high-performance real-time exploration and insight delivery without waiting for data to complete a sync process.

Use Cases

EA also has a high-performance, high-volume Snowflake connector that allows you to ingest, transform & enrich data. In general, we recommend bringing data into EA to allow for deeper integration but there are many scenarios where Snowflake Direct can help.

  • Live insights. Each time you open a dashboard or lens powered by one or more Snowflake direct queries, we send those queries straight to Snowflake. This allows for near real-time freshness on fast-changing data. It is also a good alternative if your EA data flows take a while to run.
  • Data residency & redundancy needs. Do you have data residency requirements for some of your data? In that case, you can continue to keep it in your data warehouse and use EA Direct to operationalize that data for your business users.
  • High-volume data. Do you have high-volume data in Snowflake that run into billions of rows and would take significant time & capacity to bring into EA? Save time by using EA Direct to query the data instead.
  • Low-frequency of access. Do you have data that is less frequently accessed such as invoice/order details but you would still like your business users to have the ability to access them on-demand and within the CRM experience? EA Direct can help.
  • Keep your EA data pipelines clutter-free. By offloading to EA Direct where possible, you minimize the number of data flows to run ensuring your critical data flows get the resources they need.
  • Fast start + Prototype. Direct queries require no data sync, data flows or recipes. Just some quick setup and you can start incorporating insights from Snowflake into your dashboards. You can also use it to collaboratively prototype with business users. Data admins can quickly setup access to Snowflake data to enable analysts & users to experiment with the right data model before deciding to bring the data into EA.
  • Want to incorporate data from Snowflake Data Marketplace to enrich your data? Snowflake Direct can help.
  • Want to analyze semi-structured data (JSON, Parquet, XML) from modern data sources? Snowflake provides native support for semi-structured data and EA Direct can help you query it.

EA Direct for Snowflake in 3 easy steps

Serving up live insights with Snowflake Direct is quick & easy, with no need for data sync, prep, or recipes. Let’s take a look.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Prep Steps:

  • Ensure “Einstein Analytics Direct Data for external data sources” is enabled on the analytics settings page.
  • Have your Snowflake connection details handy.

Step 1: Create a live connection

You can create & manage live connections to Snowflake from the Connect tab in the Einstein Analytics Data Manager. Live connections are optimized for live querying and separate from standard connections that are optimized for ETL.

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Step 2: Create one or more live datasets

One of our goals with EA Direct was to provide a consistent experience for the end-user whether they are working with data in EA or an external source. That is why we introduced the concept of ‘live datasets’. EA admins can expose any table/view as a ‘live dataset’. You will find ‘live datasets’ resemble EA datasets in many ways. In fact, ‘live dataset’ are the same as EA datasets with one major difference – data remains in the external data source and we are simply pointing to it. Each ‘live dataset’ can be added to an EA App to allow table-level access control.

Create & manage live datasets from the Data tab in the Einstein Analytics Data Manager. We recommend creating a SQL view optimized for analytical queries and exposing that as a live dataset in EA.

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Step 3: Go Explore!

Let’s look at how end users can access Snowflake data. Live datasets can be found under the ‘datasets’ tab in Einstein Analytics Studio. You can start exploring by simply clicking on one. Exploration should feel just like exploring an EA dataset. You can group/filter/aggregate fields, change visualizations, apply formatting & save the exploration or clip it to a dashboard.

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Build & Operationalize

Below are some ways in which you can operationalize EA Direct for Snowflake.

Go hybrid – one dashboard to rule them all

Our engineering team has taken great care to architect EA dashboards to be data source-agnostic. This makes it possible to co-locate insights built from a variety of data sources on the same dashboard and have widgets interact & filter each other. This means you can add direct queries to your existing dashboards. Winter ’21 also adds direct query support for data source linking so you can connect fields from live datasets with fields from EA datasets to add interactivity with a few clicks.

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Pictured above is an EA dashboard containing live case metrics powered by Salesforce Direct, order metrics using Snowflake Direct & historical metrics using queries running against EA datasets all in the same dashboard. You can also choose to create a separate dashboard page for non-CRM metrics.

Divide & conquer – separate dashboard for non-CRM metrics

You could also incrementally introduce non-CRM data-based analytics into your business workflow by creating a separate dashboard and using Lightning Builder to show it in a new tab. This keeps your main dashboard focused on high-visibility metrics while still allowing supplemental insights to be accessed with a few clicks.

Separate Snowflake Dashboard.gif

In the example above, we have embedded insights on the Account record. Account Summary tab shows account insights based on CRM data pulled into EA. Order Summary tab shows summary & historical metrics around orders while also allowing users to drill into order-level detail if they need it. Order information is being queried directly from Snowflake.

Lightweight, easy-to-consume insight cards

EA dashboards embedded in the Salesforce homepage tend to be powerful incorporating numerous visualizations/tables and having granular filtering capabilities that allow users to start from a 10,000 ft view and drill down into specific records. Once you are in a Salesforce record, you can still embed advanced dashboards for in-depth record analysis but we also recommend embedding lightweight easy-to-consume insight cards in strategic locations. These are essentially simple dashboards that contain a single metric or visualization that provides supporting customer 360 data. This is another good way to iteratively incorporate non-CRM data into your business user workflow. Snowflake Direct requires no data prep and can be quickly created and embedded.

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The screenshot above shows an Account in Salesforce. Embedded on this page are two insight cards that provide product usage metrics for that account. This type of data is not typically in CRM and is located in Snowflake. Snowflake Direct allows your account reps to be powered with live insights about product usage that they can use when following up with the account. At a glance, an account rep can be armed with information about how that account is using the product

What’s Ahead

Live datasets give us a strong foundation to build upon in coming releases. We will continue to enhance them with features that our users love & expect from standard EA datasets.

  • More querying capabilities so that users can answer a broad range of questions on their external data. The ability to execute custom SQL queries right within Explorer will allow analysts and power users to leverage the full power of their data warehouse to answer any question, ad-hoc or curated. We also plan to support advanced querying such as formulas & joins using clicks not code to enable easier exploration.
  • Extended metadata (XMD) support to allow for custom field labels & types.
  • Actions, Subscriptions, Notifications & Watchlists on direct queries to drive engagement & actionability across your user base.

More Resources

  • Check out the Winter ’21 Release Notes for a quick overview of Snowflake Direct.
  • Check out the help page for more information & best practices.
  • Check out the other exciting integrations between EA and Snowflake. Sync Salesforce data to Snowflake with Sync Out. Write EA datasets to Snowflake using the Output Connector.

*Forward-looking statement

This content contains forward-looking statements that involve risks, uncertainties, and assumptions. If any such uncertainties materialize or if any of the assumptions proved incorrect, the results of salesforce.com, inc. could differ materially from the results expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements we make.

Any unreleased services or features referenced in this document or other presentations, press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase our services should make the purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce.com, inc. assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements.


2 thoughts on “Live Customer 360 Insights Using Snowflake Direct”

  • Avatar 1
    Neeraj Rawat on September 1, 2020 Reply

    I am surprised that we can use live connection now! Right now its not available in our org. is that something coming in future releases for us or Salesforce clients.

    • Anirudh Sridhar 2
      Anirudh Sridhar on September 1, 2020 Reply

      Neeraj, you can contact your EA admin to enable this feature from the Analytics Settings page once Winter ’21 rolls out. It should be in Sandboxes soon if you’d like to try it out.

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