The idea of applying the ASP model to business intelligence has aroused skepticism ­ for good reason. End-user firms are reluctant to allow anyone else to access their sensitive customer and product data. However, a new company named digiMine has assembled at least three of the four necessary components for a successful go at it. These include the talent, the technology, the operational acumen and the target market. Obviously, any such undertaking is inherently risky, and all the usual disclaimers apply. However, in conversation with the CEO, Usama Fayyad, and background checks on the overall situation, Giga was impressed with both the credentials and the delivery, as well as the results attained to date.

The Technology. A recent digiMine ad shows an amusing picture of the rear view of a person's shaved head with mathematical formulas on it in black marker. The caption reads: "Got data? We'll do the math." All the evidence supports the assertion. Everyone has the data. Without the data mining application to analyze it, the data is meaningless (and worthless). Likewise, the analytic application is empty without the data. digiMine incorporates Microsoft OLE/DB for Data Mining, a Microsoft interface to data mining services using the familiar SQL API. With the shipment of SQL Server 2000, Microsoft has changed the name of OLAP Services to Analytic Services. Analytic Services now contains both OLAP and data mining. In a sense, digiMine is the ultimate proof of concept. Given digiMine's price point, using an ASP can actually be a lot less risky than undertaking in-house data mining development (and the implied data warehouse) from scratch.

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