Microsoft and Walmart team up to take on Amazon's cloud and retail business
Microsoft and Walmart have entered into a five year-long partnership that helps the latter to fully capitalize on the former's cloud and enterprise expertise. The deal gives Walmart access to Microsoft Azure cloud services, Microsoft 365, and artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to help drive sales and innovation. The deal is being seen as a huge shot in the arm for both Walmart and Microsoft who would like to snatch a sizeable chunk of Amazon's market share in both cloud and retail.
Walmart will be equipping all its branches with Microsoft 365 services in a phased manner. These include Microsoft Workspace Analytics, Microsoft Stream, and Microsoft OneDrive alongside Office 365 and Azure. Microsoft will be deploying dedicated engineers to Walmart who will assist in transitioning existing applications to the cloud. Azure's AI and ML capabiltiies will also help Walmart in building a global IoT platform that can reduce energy consumptions and intelligently route trucks in the supply chain.
The deal, however, did not specify anything about Walmart's cashier-free stores. Amazon has a lead in this segment with its flagship Amazon Go store in Seattle that enables easy shopping minus the queues. Microsoft is reportedly investing in this technology to offer a better version that can be implemented by any retailer and Walmart was one of the first choices for test driving it. Although there's been no further news about that, it is still possible that Microsoft's tech will somehow power Walmart's cashier-less implementation.
Microsoft would be nothing short of delighted to welcome Walmart as its partner. The company's Azure services are still behind Amazon's AWS in market share despite Azure growing 56% in Q2 2017. In fact, speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the shared rivalry of Walmart and Microsoft with Amazon is 'absolutely core to this [deal]'.
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