OpenText buys Covisint, but no talk yet of blockchain for the supply chain

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This week OpenText announced that it had completed its acquisition of IoT / digital identity cloud platform vendor Covisint, but – unlike with some of its competitors – there’s no mention of how blockchain might figure in its plans for new supply chain solutions.

There’s nothing in the announcement (indeed nothing readily apparent on either Covisint’s or OpenText’s websites) about the role either company expects blockchain to play in the IoT, digital identity, or supply chain management space. In fact, the quote from OpenText CEO/CTO Mark J Barrenechea focuses on other buzzwords du jour instead (“automation, analytics, and AI”)… Surely, though, the technology will edge into view as the dust begins to settle on the deal, and Covisint’s platform becomes integrated into OpenText’s offerings.

Barrenechea declares “digital identity management, IoT, and B2B collaboration” to be at the heart of successful companies’ digital transformations; and on the face of it, Covisint’s platform plays well into contemporary paradigms of the IoT ecosystem, access and identity lifecycle management, and the relationships between people and things. As a provider of an established cloud-based platform, Covisint brings to OpenText a mature development community for IoT-infused, data-rich applications with identity services helping them to dovetail into wider business workflows.

Potential synergies with OpenText’s existing CX, BPM, ECM, analytics, and B2B supply chain offerings abound: for example, IoT data enriching supply chain use cases around the treatment and tracking of goods; enhanced customer experience informed by data from how goods and infrastructure are actually being used; secure cross-boundary collaboration born of an extensive platform-wide suite of identity services, etc. However, it’s the OpenText Business Network (and its solutions for secure B2B information flows between organisations) – with a particular focus on the automotive industry – which the company has chosen to highlight in its press release.

So far, so 2017 (from a tech solution perspective). Where the innovation spotlight is turning now though, for this year’s prototypes and next year’s production-ready environments, is how blockchain technologies can be infused into supply chain management solutions, manage identity and trust in cross-boundary relationships, facilitate highly automated contributions from sensor data through the execution of smart contracts on a distributed ledger, and so on.

And where are OpenText and Covisint on this?

There’s nothing public yet, although Covisint’s CSO Dave Miller has been an active contributor to blockchain identity conversations on the conference circuit over the last year or so. However, given OpenText’s history of growth by acquisition, it’s likely that any OpenText-branded blockchain services in its supply chain or IoT business may well bought in later rather than being incubated in-house now.

Either way, as we reported last week, there’s far more to blockchain than cryptocurrencies – and established industry players like IBM, SAP, and Microsoft are already striving to be first out of the gate amongst the start-ups when it comes to shaping a wider ‘business blockchain’ market. OpenText has a big stake in that game too, with its solutions for business networks… we await news of how it’s choosing to play its hand in these early stages, or whether it’ll be content to wait-and-see – leaving others to try, before it buys.

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