Allocating a sum of $1.5 billion, the British firm plans to invest in AI solutions tailored for customer needs, leveraging the collaborative efforts of Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI and Copilot technologies. This initiative includes the transition from conventional data centers to more cost-effective and scalable Azure cloud services. This would help Vodafone become more agile and reduce its operational costs.
The partnership is designed to accelerate Vodafone’s digital transformation and deliver new AI-powered services for SMEs across Europe and Africa, the companies said. It will also allow Vodafone to boost its IoT connectivity capabilities by hyperscaling its managed Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity platform that connects 175 million devices and platforms worldwide. By making the IoT platform available via open APIs, Vodafone can expand its third-party developer community and unleash new business services for SMEs.
Both companies will use generative AI to build deeper customer insights, improve digital experiences, and drive growth in enterprise businesses. The companies said they will also collaborate to improve efficiencies and support sustainability goals.
As part of the agreement, Vodafone will distribute and sell a suite of Microsoft cloud services to its enterprise customers, including Azure, security solutions, and modern work offerings like Microsoft Teams Phone Mobile. The telco will also accelerate its cloud transformation by virtualizing its data centers on Azure, reducing complexity and operating costs and boosting customer responsiveness.
Moreover, Vodafone will use the partnership to improve its African M-Pesa mobile money platform. The service already has a presence in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and other African countries and shares common objectives with Microsoft in the region, including fostering digital literacy. The partnership will enable it to integrate generative AI capabilities to help improve customers’ financial decision-making processes.
Vodafone’s M-Pesa platform will be housed on the Azure cloud, enabling it to launch new cloud-native applications and scale its deployment. The telco will also use Azure to enhance its workforce productivity through the adoption of Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools. These include the digital assistant TOBi, now available in 13 countries, and Microsoft’s Copilot, which can transform working practices and boost employee efficiency.
In addition, the two technology giants will collaborate to hyperscale Vodafone’s IoT platform and make it more accessible for developers and third-party communities via APIs. They will also use the platform to support SMEs’ digital and financial needs across Europe and Africa. This will help SMEs grow, enabling them to leverage the power of IoT and AI. The companies said it will help them address sustainable development goals across diverse sectors. They will also collaborate to address the skills gap in IoT and AI by creating new training opportunities and leveraging Microsoft’s Azure IoT Academy. The companies said this will empower a new generation of IoT and AI talent and foster the creation of innovative solutions for customers. The 10-year deal is a significant step in Vodafone’s strategy to bring generative AI, digital, enterprise, and cloud services to more than 300 million businesses and consumers across its European and African markets.