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Vodafone Inks a Whopping $1.5 Billion Pact with Microsoft

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Britain-based service provider Vodafone has sealed the deal with the Redmond firm Microsoft to bring generative AI, digital, enterprise, and cloud services to nearly 300 million businesses and consumers throughout its European and African markets. Vodafone is fostering its growth by reportedly investing an astronomical sum of $1.5 billion in customer-focused AI developed with Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI and Copilot technologies. The company will replace physical data centres with affordable and expandable Azure cloud services.

As part of a strategic maneuver, Microsoft is taking a significant step by becoming an equity investor in Vodafone’s independent IoT (Internet of Things) platform, set to emerge as a standalone business by April 2024. Subsequently, Microsoft will play a crucial role in expanding Vodafone’s mobile financial platform across Africa.

Luka Mucic, Vodafone’s Chief Financial Officer, highlighted the transformative impact of Microsoft’s AI leadership, reinforced by their partnership with OpenAI, specifically on enhancing the telco’s customer services. Mucic emphasized the groundbreaking potential of a Microsoft AI-driven TOBi chatbot, ensuring more coherent and intelligent responses to customer queries.

Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s Chief Commercial Officer, underscored the strategic significance of Vodafone’s prowess in IoT and financial services. He further added the critical role of Vodafone’s IoT assets in addressing sustainability challenges, particularly in sectors that are challenging to transform.

Highlighting Microsoft’s innovative approach, Althoff emphasized the deployment of “digital twins” to simulate manufacturing environments in the cloud. Leveraging Vodafone’s IoT stack, Microsoft strategizes to model and scrutinize large-scale data, using AI to assist customers in achieving their sustainability objectives.

Shifting attention to Vodafone’s M-PESA mobile money platform operating in various African countries, Althoff emphasized shared objectives with Microsoft, such as promoting digital literacy. He expressed mutual enthusiasm about introducing generative AI capabilities to empower customers to make more informed financial decisions.



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