Issue: Jun 2007


Global collaboration easier, more productive and safer.



Automotive Industries spoke to Covisint’s President and COO, Robert (Bob) C. Paul.

by John Larkin

Covisint started as an online automotive-industry exchange backed by five giants of the auto world – GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Co. The idea and core value behind Covisint was to streamline operations and reduce cost by digitizing information and application sharing via the web. In 2004, the company was bought by Compuware Corporation. Today, Compuware Covisint is a global leader in providing a common, secure collaboration platform that connects and integrates processes, systems and information flows for more than 30,000 companies world-wide.

According to the company, Covisint’s next-generation web-based platform spans time, distance, culture and capability. Covisint’s website states: “All industries are faced with the challenge of providing information to the right stakeholders at the right time – throughout the supply chain and service delivery system. Information – both application and paper based – needs to be securely shared with stakeholders inside and outside of your organization. You'll gain a tighter, more coordinated supply chain, a seamless care delivery system and cost control.”

Earlier this year, General Motors chose Covisint to support its strategy to connect and integrate more than 18,000 production and non-production suppliers using a common secure, IT infrastructure. The contract was part of GM's 2006 IT re-sourcing initiative and helped expand Covisint's messaging and integration capabilities to GM's European, Asia-Pacific and Latin American suppliers. Employing its collaborative platform, Covisint connects and integrates disparate business systems and technologies, improving collaboration and reducing costs across GM’s supply chain. According to the press note released in February this year, the transition and integration efforts for GM's European, Asian and Latin American supply base spanned a five-month period, beginning in the first half of 2006.

In November, 2006, Compuware Covisint announced that the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) had selected the company to play a key role in supporting the technology needs of the Chinese automotive industry. The two initiatives supported by Covisint were: 1) supporting digital supply chain communications via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – Covisint would become the first AIAG certified EDI training company in China and 2) Covisint would join with five other organizations and Chinese regional governments to perform a supplier gap assessment.

The gap analysis, initiated by AIAG and regional Chinese governments, targeted Chongqing, which was the first of eight industry “hub areas.” The six-week assessment (completed in December, 2006) improved Sino-US automotive industry communications and helped uncover areas where Chinese suppliers needed to improve in order to become world-class automotive suppliers. The AIAG--as a globally-recognized, independent organization—recruited the assessment team and oversaw the program to ensure that the needs of all participants were understood.

"With the forecasted growth of the Chinese auto industry, it is imperative that the supply chain there communicate quickly and efficiently and address any gaps in their processes in order to be globally competitive," said Dr. Yilong Chen in a statement, AIAG General Director of Asia-Pacific Affairs and Chief Representative in China.

Covisint will work with a team of experts tasked with the evaluation of Chinese suppliers to improve operations across four key performance areas: quality, management, manufacturing and materials management. Compuware Covisint was chosen to lead in the area of B2B electronic commerce (supporting all four areas).

"Compuware Covisint excels at bringing together disparate entities to collaborate in a powerful way. We were thrilled to be selected as a core member of the expert team to improve operations in the Chinese automotive industry," said Bob Paul, President and COO of Compuware Covisint.

The contract to provide EDI training was Compuware Covisint’s second China-related contract in 2006. In August of last year, the company announced a three-year contract between Shanghai GM and Compuware Covisint. Covisint will provide messaging and integration services for Shanghai GM and hundreds of its suppliers based in Asia, North America, Europe and Latin America.

"Shanghai GM, which was recently ranked No. 1 by the Chinese government for business applications, has suppliers worldwide using multiple technologies, and we all need to securely communicate and transact business with each other. Covisint provided our entire supplier community with the visibility, integration and control it needed—overnight," said X.Q. Zhang in a statement, CIO of Shanghai GM.

Compuware Covisint is a strategic IT partner for General Motors and Shanghai GM. Covisint's platform provides a unique combination of standards-based, global b2b messaging, secure portal and identity and access management services -- all of which works to globally and seamlessly connect and integrate automotive trading partners. Initially, Covisint will provide community connectivity and supply chain visibility across SGM’s power-train and vehicle assembly operations. Covisint local support services also will provide technical support and training to Shanghai GM.

Compuware Covisint describes itself as a leading provider of interoperability solutions for companies of any size or geographic location. Supporting 250,000 users, representing more than 30,000 organizations in over 96 countries in seven languages, Covisint offers companies a secure, services approach to managing complex networks of value chain processes, systems and information.

Extending and augmenting existing investment in IT systems, Covisint’s portal, identity management, b2b messaging and collaboration tools combine to help organizations improve collaboration, reduced cost and improve time to market.

For automotive OEMs, this means technology that drives greater flexibility, lower total cost and speed to market. For automotive suppliers, this means technology that helps win and retain profitable business through cost effective compliance across multiple customer quality, materials management and technology requirements. For third party logistics service providers, it means providing more predictable, reliable multi-modal logistics services on a global scale.

Automotive Industries spoke to Covisint’s President and COO, Robert (Bob) C. Paul.

AI: How have things changed for Covisint since you were acquired by Compuware in 2004? How have the resources of such a large organization affected the way you do business?

Compuware’s global footprint provides Covisint with the ability to scale quickly and deliver added value to an extensive base of customers and partners. It also provides the full-force of $1.2 billion (U.S.) resource base that includes sales, marketing, product development, IT operations and human resources covering more than 86 countries.

Combining the power of a global IT services leader with the autonomy and speed of a “Web 2.0 company,” Covisint can deploy large, complex global projects and remain customer focused and fast-to-market.


AI: Covisint has undergone certain changes as it has grown, and it seems like there's a bit of confusion out there regarding what Covisint does today. Lay out Covisint's automotive value proposition?

Covisint started as an application-based company focused mainly on purchasing (auctions, catalogs, etc.). Today, our capabilities and value address the needs that private and public sector communities have for interoperability and secure collaboration. In a world where information and applications are everywhere, Covisint delivers a secure, global collaboration platform that helps people and systems work better together.


AI: What does Covisint do better than any other company? Who are Covisint's competitors?

The short answer is that Covisint turns an organization’s extended enterprise into a competitive differentiator. Covisint’s secure collaboration platform helps organizations of any size connect and share information and applications globally. We enable digital processes (e.g. design, manufacturing, logistics and financials) that span system and enterprise boundaries -- in less time and at a lower cost -- for more than 30,000 companies globally.


AI: Tell us how the GM global deal is going.

As a result of our outstanding execution on the GM project, Covisint was one of the recipients of this year’s GM CIO Award. GM leads in its vision and use of strategic technology. It is the first automotive company to deploy a single hub [Covisint] for global supplier communications. Covisint provides secure, seamless access to mission critical information and applications via any web-browser.


AI: Tell me more about Covisint's technologies and how these technologies help your customers. Where do you see Covisint in five years?

Covisint’s three layers of technology include 1) an exclusive security service that manages identities and access to information assets; 2) a portal platform that enables personalized information access, navigation and the use of a shared set of collaboration tools; and 3) a global SOA backbone for messaging and web services . This powerful combination enables Covisint to augment and extend existing investments in IT systems and infrastructure to deliver real-time, global collaboration.

In the next five years, we envision revenues growing rapidly as we deliver Covisint solutions and services to five core industry segments.


Tell me about upcoming advances to the Covisint portal.

The upcoming launch of the Covisint’s portal takes Web 2.0 functionality and makes it safe and reliable for the enterprise, delivering a core set of collaboration tools and secure community management. Leveraging our unique security infrastructure, Covisint will provide capabilities that previously were largely available only in the consumer space, including secure, directed email, blogs, wikis, portlets, mashups, RSS feeds, team collaboration rooms, secure file exchange and community grouping and management tools. These advanced enterprise capabilities will to make global collaboration easier, more productive and safer.


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