Vodafone and Microsoft have officially entered into a 10-year strategic partnership aimed at seamlessly integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI), cutting-edge digital solutions, robust enterprise services, and advanced cloud offerings.
This collaborative effort is set to impact over 300 million businesses and consumers, spanning Vodafone’s extensive markets across Europe and Africa.
With a substantial $1.5 billion investment, Vodafone is committed to developing customer-centric artificial intelligence, leveraging the advanced capabilities of Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI and Copilot technologies.
The company plans to transition from traditional physical data centres to the cost-effective and scalable Azure cloud services, signalling a forward-looking approach to technology infrastructure.
As part of the collaboration, Microsoft will become an equity investor in Vodafone’s upcoming standalone business, the managed Internet of Things (IoT) platform, expected to launch by April 2024.
Microsoft will also actively contribute to the expansion of Vodafone’s mobile financial platform in the African market, reinforcing the partnership’s commitment to fostering innovation and growth across diverse technological domains.
Vodafone’s Chief Financial Officer, Luka Mucic, highlighted that Microsoft’s leadership in AI, particularly underpinned by its OpenAI partnership, would transform the telco’s customer services. The introduction of a Microsoft AI-underpinned TOBi chatbot is expected to provide more consistent and intelligent responses to queries.
Microsoft’s Chief Commercial Officer, Judson Althoff, emphasised the importance of Vodafone’s strength in IoT and financial services. He stated that Vodafone’s IoT assets play a critical role in addressing the sustainability needs of customers in challenging sectors.
The collaboration is set to bring generative AI capabilities to help customers make more intelligent financial decisions. Vodafone’s M-PESA mobile money platform, operational in various African nations, aligns seamlessly with Microsoft’s shared objectives in the region, including a mutual commitment to fostering digital literacy.