DETROIT - Covisint is willing to take on customers from outside the auto industry, but one request from the U.S. Department of Defense was a bit too far out.
The department wanted to use Covisint's Web-based collaboration tools on personal digital assistant devices for use on the battlefield.
"That's one we said no to," said Covisint CEO Kevin English. "We said, 'Guys, that's way outside our scope.' We're not going to get into the Department of Defense's strategy five years out in respect to battlefield PDA devices doing Collaboration Manager (a Covisint tool), real-time communications and so forth."
Interest in Covisint, the global online exchange formed by the Big 3 in 2000, is building outside the auto industry. English predicts that in 2004 as much as 25 percent of the exchange's annual revenue will be generated from nonautomotive companies. Others close to the Southfield, Mich., exchange believe Covisint needs to focus only on automotive as it races to become profitable.
Covisint's Collaboration Manager tool allows suppliers and automakers to work electronically and share information, documents and discussions from different locations. For example, to study a 3-D drawing of a front bumper, automotive designers in a California studio and engineers in Detroit might use Collaboration Manager.
Personal digital assistant users typically use a stylus to tap selections on menus and to enter printed characters. Data is synchronized between the device and desktop computer by a cable or wireless transmission.
While Covisint turned down the defense project, it has accepted other business from the federal government, English said. He would not disclose the projects.
Also, industrial machinery, heavy equipment and farm equipment companies use Covisint, he said.
Covisint is building a portal for a nonautomotive company and has hosted reverse auctions and built electronic catalogs for companies outside the auto indusry, he said.