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Vodafone to modernise data centres for AI in Microsoft partnership

Written by Tue 16 Jan 2024

Microsoft and Vodafone have announced a £1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) strategic partnership to accelerate digital transformation in the EMEA region. 

The 10-year deal aims to offer scaled digital platforms to more than 300 million businesses, public sector organisations, and consumers across Europe and Africa. 

“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,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO at Microsoft. 

Through the collaboration, Vodafone will accelerate its cloud transformation by modernising its data centres on Microsoft Azure. This aims to improve its responsiveness to users while simplifying and reducing the operational costs of its IT estate. 

As a result, Vodafone will replace multiple physical data centres with virtual ones across Europe. Vodafone and Microsoft said this will simplify and reduce the operational costs of its IT estate and reduce energy requirements, to help deliver its sustainable business strategy.

“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,” said Margherita Della Valle, Chief Executive at Vodafone Group.

Microsoft also intends to invest in Vodafone’s managed Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity platform, which will become a separate, standalone business by April 2024. Vodafone’s IoT platform currently connects 175 million devices and platforms worldwide.

The new business is intended to attract new partners and customers to drive growth in applications and expand 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.  

Microsoft plans to enhance the financial technology platform, M-Pesa, by hosting it on Azure and facilitating the introduction of new cloud-native applications. The collaboration includes a purpose-driven initiative targeting the improvement of the lives of 100 million consumers and 1 million SMEs in Africa.

This programme will focus on enhancing digital literacy, skills development, and youth outreach, along with providing digital services to the SME market. The partnership’s goal is to drive innovation in financial services and cultivate a community of certified developers.

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Written by Tue 16 Jan 2024

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