BELLEVUE, Wash. – Four weeks ago, advanced database guru Usama Fayyad left a rewarding position as a senior researcher at Microsoft Research with the dream of bringing sophisticated data mining to small businesses via an ASP model. By almost any measure, the new venture is off to an amazing start. Since founding digiMine.com in March, Fayyad and a handful of colleagues with sales, marketing and development expertise have secured $5 million in financing from top-tier Internet investors. They have attracted a staff of about 25, acquired another company, built an aggressive product development plan with beta testing in progress, and focused on a target audience that includes any e-business that interacts with customers on the Web.
“This is a bigger than just data mining and data warehousing”, Fayyad said. “ It’s about how do you capture, collect and use the information from the web site, from other data courses, information about your customers, their registration about your customers, their registrations and profiles and how you put that all together in a format that’s useable and then be able to mine it.”
digiMine aims to solve real life problems faced by IT managers using an ASP model that removes risk and expenses of dedicated hardware and software, Fayyad said. Customers will pay a monthly fee for the data-mining applications, business-intelligence reports and marketing applications.
Fayyad, his executive team and many of the investors have deep roots within Microsoft. Fayyad founded Microsoft Research’s data-mining and exploration group and worked with the development of Microsoft Site Server and Commerce Server. He also developed algorithms for mining large data bases and fit them into server products such as SQL Server and OLAP Services. digiMine co-founder and chief operating officer Bassel Ojjeh was Microsoft group product manager in the Internet Server division.
“Ironically, as transaction-level e-commerce explodes, companies know less and less about their customers,” said Pete Higgins of the investment group Second Avenue Partners, a former Microsoft executive and adviser for digiMine.
“digiMine’s unique model unlocks enormous value trapped in e-commerce websites and turns data mining from a Ph.D. construction project into a simple service for everyone,” said Sam Jadallah, a founding investor and managing of Internet Capital Group. Jadallah formally ran the Microsoft’s organization consumer unit, focusing on the corporation’s channel partners.
Users average about 20 seconds on a site, said Besbeas, a 15-year veteran of database marketing. “If they do not find what they want they are gone, perhaps never to return. The question that many e-commerce sites are asking is ‘how do I engage that would-be customer?’ The answer to this and other questions lies buried in mountains of data generated on the site.”
In theory, IT departments should be able to answer the following questions immediately if their decision-support systems are running at peak levels, Fayyad said in an interview in digiMine’s Bellevue headquarters. How many customers came to the site yesterday? How many were first-time buyers? What are the top-10 most visited product areas on the site? Which products are most effective at converting prospects to customers? What are the top-10 selling products or service?
“digiMine.com will deliver these answers to your virtual door at every start of day, as well as provide access to these answers and more,” he said.
An ambitious goal, yes, but also a huge, hot, burgeoning market if they can harness it.
By: Stuart Glascock