"They're not just an automotive company," Prouty said. "So they have a vested interest in not tying themselves solely to one exchange."
But Johnson Controls isn't alone in being stuck between a major business-to-business exchange and a hard place. Dofasco Inc., a $2 billion company that manufactures steel for the construction, packaging and automotive industries, is in a similar situation. The Hamilton, Ontario-based steel maker owns an equity stake in E-steeel.com, a steel industry business-to-business exchange, but may also join Covisint.
"I can see us belonging to multiple exchanges," said Doug Buchanan, manager of e-business at Dofasco. "It's a fact of life. Covisint is not going to buy steel for the packaging or other industries, but just for automotive purposes -- and that's just one segment [of our business]."