The 2nd Annual FAST50 2002 Global Readers’ Challenge

I took data mining away from the geeks

Submitted by:

Usama  Fayyad

President, CEO, digiMine, Inc.

Bellevue – WA US

Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does and the specific challenge you faced.

I am the CEO and co-founder of digiMine. We are data mining and analytics company that helps business use their customer-related data to improve marketing, sales and service operations. Our mission: to put the power of data mining into the hands of business people. A quick definition of data mining: the discovery of useful patterns and predictions within high volumes of data. The technology has been around for years, traditionally in the realm of people like me – highly trained statisticians and database geeks. It’s complex, technical stuff. But we knew there is tremendous opportunity to provide data mining to business people, oriented toward actual business problems. The obstacle? Big, established data mining and statistics software vendors that have legion of specialized users holding the technology hostage from the business people who can really use data mining to meet their objectives. But e made the bet that our company would succeed if we could provide data mining as a managed service, doing the technical heavy lifting for business people and providing the results of data mining, presented in the context of business issues.

What was your moment of truth?

The moment of truth was when my two co-founders, Nick Besbeas and Bassel Ojjeh, and I actually resigned from secure, rewarding positions at Microsoft to strike out on our own. We had been toying with the idea of starting our own company for a long time, and had been seriously developing plans for several months. But actually telling our bosses in Redmond that we were done and starting a company that basically consisted of three guys and a PowerPoint presentation was an incredibly big dose of reality. It was a true test of our entrepreneurial spirit. Of course, it was only the beginning of the test of our idea that there is a better way to do data mining. At the time, the ASP model increasingly criticized and many ASPs were falling to deliver on the over – hype that was associated with the model. “ASP” was turning into a dirty 3-letter acronym. And here we were, leaving our positions at Microsoft to start an ASP for data mining!

(The exact date? 3/12/2000)

What were the results?

digiMine is a success! We have significant contracts with more than 30 clients, including AT&T Wireless, CBS MarketWatch, Daimier Chrysler, Dow Jones, J.Crew, Microsoft, Nordstom, Palm, and Starbucks. These big, leading companies took a chance with digiMine because we’re offering something nobody else is: data mining in the “language of business”, delivered as a service without the technical headaches. In fact, the tough technology market has been a boon for us. Companies view us as a less risky, complicated vendor. We’re a service they can just “turn on” and not a system they have to install and manage on their own.

What’s your parting tip?

Trust your instincts! Nobody knows your business better than you, so listen to advice but make your own decision.

By: Usama Fayyad

Source: Fast Company


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