Walmart signs five-year cloud and AI deal with Microsoft

Walmart signs five-year cloud and AI deal with Microsoft

NEWSBYTE Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer and its largest company by revenue, has deepened its partnership with Microsoft in a new five-year deal.

Announced today, the technology alliance is designed to help both companies fend off the threat from Amazon, which is not only advancing in retail, but also in cloud services, via AWS, and enterprise computing.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “How do we get more leverage as two organisations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition?”

Microsoft’s Azure platform has emerged as a viable alternative to AWS, especially for other retailers who are loathe to use Amazon’s technology.

Walmart will deploy Microsoft’s cloud technologies, including AI and machine learning, across a range of functions, including purchasing algorithms, and sales data sharing and management.

In 2018, Walmart has engaged in a wide-reaching reinvention – if its recent patent applications are anything to do by. The retail behemoth has also been aggressively cutting costs and investing in growing sales online, automating and improving its supply chain, and investing in robotics – and in Amazon’s rivals overseas.

“We are moving fast, and we are looking for partners to help us do that,” said Marc Lore, Walmart’s US head of e-commerce and founder of Jet.com, a Microsoft customer that Walmart acquired in 2016..

Internet of Business says

Despite being the world’s biggest company by revenue, Walmart has been a slumbering giant in recent years, as Amazon has extended its reach or invested in dozens of different markets, from home security, insurance, and healthcare to robotics, enterprise computing hardware, smart TVs, deliveries, and more.

This week it was announced that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had become the richest man in history, with a personal fortune of $150 billion.

Rather than seek to do everything itself – which might see the retailer overextend itself –  Walmart appears to be going the partnership route, and the expanded Microsoft relationship is merely the latest example of collaboration with Amazon’s cloud technology rivals, to mutual advantage.

For example, in 2017 Walmart agreed to list its products on online-shopping marketplace Google Express, enabling users of Google Home products to order goods via Google’s smart assistant.

Chris Middleton
Chris Middleton is former editor of Internet of Business, and now a key contributor to the title. He specialises in robotics, AI, the IoT, blockchain, and technology strategy. He is also former editor of Computing, Computer Business Review, and Professional Outsourcing, among others, and is a contributing editor to Diginomica, Computing, and Hack & Craft News. Over the years, he has also written for Computer Weekly, The Guardian, The Times, PC World, I-CIO, V3, The Inquirer, and Blockchain News, among many others. He is an acknowledged robotics expert who has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITN, and Talk Radio, and is probably the only tech journalist in the UK to own a number of humanoid robots, which he hires out to events, exhibitions, universities, and schools. Chris has also chaired conferences on robotics, AI, IoT investment, digital marketing, blockchain, and space technologies, and has spoken at numerous other events.