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Ecosystem Leaders

Episode 99

May 6, 2020

#99 Katie Ecklund: How to Face the Challenge of Scaling at Speed

Katie Ecklund, Director of SI alliances at Snowflake, joins Chip Rodgers on this Ecosystem Aces episode.

Rapid growth is the epitome of the saying “it’s a good problem to have.”

Still, this doesn’t discount the very real challenges involved in scaling at breakneck speed.

And as the market landscape gets ever more dominated by SaaS companies experiencing explosive growth, it’s important we learn from their experiences.

That’s why we sat down with Katie Ecklund, Director of SI alliances at Snowflake, to see what her experiences can teach us about how to handle the challenges of the good problem everyone wants to have.

Over the last 3 years, Katie has brought her experience working at major organizations like IBM and even the US Army with her as she has overseen Snowflake’s ecosystem grow at remarkable speed.

Katie shared with us:

  • The importance of automation when scaling rapidly
  • How SaaS has impacted traditional resellers
  • How engaging with the community keeps everything running smoothly

Automation is the key to growing a channel

The growth Katie has overseen at Snowflake in the past 3 years has been monumental, with an average of 100 new partners added each quarter. 

And it shows no signs of slowing. Katie anticipates Snowflake’s ecosystem to encompass tens of thousands of partners a few years from now. 

Of course, that kind of growth can come with some headaches. So how do you approach scaling so fast?

Well, picking your top-tier partners and focusing your energy on growing them is always a good idea. And this is what Katie has really honed in on over the last year.

Another challenge was, until 8 months ago, there was no dedicated operations team for partners, which meant Katie and her 7-person team were left to tackle this on their own. 

Katie is excited about the new team dedicated to the partner program, but even more excited about the opportunities automation will grant Snowflake once the upcoming CRM and partner portal is complete. 

For her, automation will take most of the burden of her team and do more than just manage Snowflake’s current growth, but also allow them to scale even faster. 

How resellers are responding to the rise of SaaS 

The massive growth Snowflake has experienced is remarkable, but it’s also indicative of emerging trends in the market, where SaaS companies are coming onto the market and growing faster every year.

And traditional resellers are starting to catch on. 

Katie has noted many of the partners she worked with in her previous role at IBM are coming onboard as snowflake partners. 

In the end, this is a response to customers changing the way they buy. And while it can be challenging at first for companies not used to consumption-based selling, Katie says the transition is ultimately pretty easy. 

“As partners shift their business, they'll start to learn a little bit more about how to sell a SaaS in a managed SaaS company like Snowflake.” — Katie Ecklund

Still, Katie’s aware some customers accustomed to buying through partners will continue to do so. 

Listening to the community

Snowflake has been traditionally seen as a data warehouse but is in the process of differentiating itself as a complete data platform.

As such, the company is working closely with its technology partners, ensuring they have the full data stack and offering more ways for them to work with their data. 

What’s more, there is a real push at Snowflake to help partners monetize their data, so the push to be able to tell the full story of all the data the ecosystem pulls in together is vital. 

Katie says ISV’s like Snowflake sometimes think in a bubble and assume they know the best solutions for the customer, but stresses the importance of overcoming this impulse.

What’s most important is going into the community and getting their feedback. They’re the ones who are really talking to the customers on a daily basis — not just about data warehousing or data platforms, but the entire business. 

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Ecosystem Aces Podcast, or visit our dedicated Ecosystem Aces page.

To contact the host, Chip Rodgers, with topic ideas, suggest a guest, or join the conversation about partner ecosystems, he can be reached by: