Vodafone and Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new, far-reaching 10-year strategic partnership that leverages their respective strengths in offering scaled digital platforms to more than 300 million businesses, public sector organisations, and consumers across Europe and Africa.
Through the partnership, the companies announed they will collaborate to transform Vodafone’s customer experience using Microsoft’s generative AI, hyperscale Vodafone’s leading managed IoT connectivity platform, develop new digital and financial services for businesses, particularly SMEs across Europe and Africa, and overhaul its global data centre cloud strategy.
Vodafone said it will invest $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in cloud and customer-focused AI services developed in conjunction with Microsoft. Additionally, Microsoft will use Vodafone’s fixed and mobile connectivity services.
Microsoft revealed its intention to invest in Vodafone’s managed IoT connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024. The new company will attract new partners and customers, driving growth in applications and expanding the platform to connect more devices, vehicles, and machines.
The digital services generated by the new partnership will use the latest generative AI technology to provide a highly personalised and differentiated customer experience across multiple channels. They will be built on unbiased and ethical privacy and security policies under Vodafone’s established framework for responsible AI.
Margherita Della Valle, Vodafone Group chief executive, said: “Today, Vodafone has made a bold commitment to the digital future of Europe and Africa. This unique strategic partnership with Microsoft will accelerate the digital transformation of our business customers, particularly small and medium-sized companies, and step up the quality of customer experience for consumers.”
“This new generation of AI will unlock massive new opportunities for every organisation and every industry around the world,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We are delighted that together with Vodafone we will apply the latest cloud and AI technology to enhance the customer experience of hundreds of millions of people and businesses across Africa and Europe, build new products and services, and accelerate the company’s transition to the cloud.”
The companies have identified five key areas of collaboration as generative AI, IoT, Africa digital acceleration, enterprise growth, and cloud transformation. Under Africa digital acceleration, Microsoft said it intends to help further scale mobile money payment service M-Pesa by housing it on Azure and enabling the launch of new cloud-native applications.