TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Covisint will launch its data messaging service for automakers and suppliers, Covisint Connect, on Nov. 26.
The service is being funded and tested by the Big 3, three Tier 1 suppliers and Covisint. It is seen as Covisint's last but best chance to become something relevant to the auto industry.
The goal is to drive cost out of the supply chain by centralizing the sending and receiving of information. Covisint, which has struggled since its creation three years ago, hopes that by streamlining the way suppliers and automakers send and receive electronic documents, it will become a messaging hub for the industry.
Pilot tests are under way. Lear Corp. is exchanging data messages with five suppliers and DaimlerChrysler. John- son Controls Inc. is testing with five suppliers and General Motors.
Delphi Corp. is exchanging data with GM. Ford Motor Co. will test the service, but a supplier has not been determined.
Suppliers and automakers have long relied on electronic data interchange, or EDI, to exchange critical information such as material release - a production forecast in weeks or months that an automaker sends to a supplier.
Automakers and suppliers have exchanged this data through direct computer links or by using a value-added network that provides message storing and forwarding.
Covisint Connect's goal is to simplify data exchange by eliminating the need for automakers and suppliers to use multiple direct connections and value-added networks, said Covisint CEO Bob Paul last week at the Management Briefing Seminars.
Covisint's goal is to sign up the Big 3, Delphi, Johnson Controls and Lear to use Covisint Connect exclusively for their data messaging needs. The six consortium members represent about 80 percent of the North American messaging traffic, Paul said. "If we can get just those six members running through Covisint, which is our target, obviously we would consider that a great success."
Kevin Prouty, automotive research director at research firm GartnerG2 of Stamford, Conn., said suppliers are generally interested in the new messaging service.
"I continue to hear it is going to provide a viable and valuable function," Prouty said. "But I also continue to hear that people have a hair trigger, that if they see it going south, people are going to be bailing off the bandwagon left and right."
Covisint has not priced the service, but says plans are to use a monthly subscription.
John Flavin, CEO of competitor Future Three Software Inc. in North- ville, Mich., said the new service will never fly. Future Three helps suppliers meet multiple EDI requirements, and does business with 40 percent of the top 150 automotive suppliers.
Said Flavin, "Personally, I think it's a pipe dream because Ford's not going to change, Chrysler and GM aren't going to change, nobody's going to change."