Mobile commerce is the name of the game for DMI, the quiet giant that is carefully building an enterprise mobility empire

DMI acquires KnowledgePath for $22 million

By Andrew Nusca March 25, 2014: 1:22 PM ET

Exclusive: Mobile commerce is the name of the game for DMI, the quiet giant that is carefully building an enterprise mobility empire.

DMI’s chief executive, Jay Sunny Bajaj, wants his company to be “the world’s largest pure-play integrated mobile enterprise solutions company.”

FORTUNE — You probably haven’t heard of DMI, but it’s likely that you’ve used one of its creations.

The Bethesda, Md.-based enterprise mobility company has developed mobile sites and apps for some of the biggest and highest-profile companies in the world, from Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) to ESPN and Unilever (UN). It manages mobile devices for several Fortune 500 stalwarts, including BP (BP), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and Sears. And it makes big data analytics tools and cybersecurity defenses for 40 different U.S. government agencies.

What DMI does — live in a world where stylesheets, algorithms, and logistics rule — isn’t very sexy. But the company literally has its hands in the pockets of some of business’ biggest players.

Over the last 18 months, DMI’s chief executive, Jay Sunny Bajaj, has carefully been assembling the parts needed for the company to offer a full suite of enterprise mobility services. In January, the company acquired its fifth company in that period: KnowledgePath, a Boston-based firm that focuses on integrating companies’ e-commerce storefronts with the back-end systems — financials, warehouse management, CRM, inventory, ERP — used to run the business. The purchase price was $22 million, in a mix of cash and equity.

Of interest to DMI is KnowledgePath’s existing customer base — it serves American Eagle Outfitters (AEO), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Brookstone, J.C. Penney (JCP), and TJX (TJX), among others — and its role in what Bajaj estimates is a $31 billion mobile commerce market.

“We realized a year and a half ago that this was going to be an emerging space,” Bajaj says “We saw Sephora and Apple have global point-of-sale systems in the hands of sales people. We realized that mobile commerce and omnichannel commerce would be the way of the future. For us, [the acquisition] was not to take out a competitor but augment a capability — buy the technology and talent and add it to the suite of services and customers. It was all part of the master plan.”

KnowledgePath began in 2010 as a self-funded merger of three small consulting companies. Four years later, the company has 90 employees in offices located near Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. and about $15 million in annual revenue.

“We see more and more the need for strong mobile capabilities,” KnowledgePath CEO Marc Irish says. “Mobile is really becoming the linchpin for omnichannel commerce — you can’t really do it without it. When we talked to DMI, we thought, ‘Wow, these guys are ahead of the game. Let’s see where we plug in.’ So we went down for a visit and were immediately attracted. The ability for them to deliver strategy, user experience, big data analytics, mobile device management … all of these things are needed by our clients down the road. We had been approached over the previous year a few times. We resisted — it wasn’t a good fit, we could do a better job on our own, let’s keep going on our trajectory. But sometimes you get the call that pricks your ears up a little bit more.”

The smaller company will remain a wholly owned subsidiary of DMI in the near future, but “over time we’ll be fully integrated,” Bajaj says. “We have 1,800 people now. We don’t have the luxury to make mistakes and play high-stakes poker; we do things for the love of the game. We’re pretty high-touch, hands on. We’re not a small business, but we still have that fabric that keeps us together. We’re making sure the companies we acquire have some commonality. You do whatever it takes to make sure you honor your commitments.”

Eric Singleton, the chief information officer for the clothing retailer Chico’s, says the move to mobile and omnichannel commerce is a major trend affecting retail companies. Chico’s, which also owns the White House Black Market brand, contracted KnowledgePath to link its Oracle ATG system with an external application it developed so that it could process transactions.

“We have meaningful continual relationships with our customer base and we’ve established a high degree of trust with them,” he says. “These apps and technologies that we’ve laid out are based on a belief that if we can be easily available and accessible throughout the day — but not invasive — than we’re accommodating the person’s daily life far more than just in the store at one moment, or a promotional e-mail. It’s an endless experience.”

One that Bajaj sees as a major opportunity.

“It’s not just about mobile devices and tablets as it is getting the end business result,” he says, before adding: “We want to be the world’s largest pure-play integrated mobile enterprise solutions company.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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