Microsoft and Walmart strike 5-year AI and cloud partnership | Tech Biz

Microsoft today announced a five-year partnership with Walmart to speed the company’s digital transformation via a combination of AI, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) services.

It is no coincidence that the strategic partnership is being announced on Prime Day, the biggest day of the year for Walmart’s chief competitor Amazon.

As part of the deal, Walmart and Sam’s Club will migrate their cloud computing to Azure, and Walmart will utilize Azure’s IoT platform to track things like HVAC and refrigeration systems.

Machine learning services from Microsoft will be used to perform tasks like routing company delivery trucks.

“Walmart is already using Microsoft services for critical applications and workloads and is now embarking on a broad set of cloud innovation projects that leverage Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and data platform solutions for a wide range of external customer-facing services and internal business applications,” the company said today in a blog post.

Walmart employees will also begin to use Microsoft 365, which includes Office 365, Windows 10, and other business productivity or collaboration services.

Walmart is best known as a box store giant and one of the world’s biggest retail companies, but for years has pushed its online offering to be a bigger part of its business with initiatives like an expansion of its operations in Silicon Valley.

Changes made at Walmart to enhance its digital shopping offerings include free two-day deliveries for orders more than $35 and voice shopping with Google Assistant to compete with shopping options via Amazon’s Alexa.

In an exclusive published last month, VentureBeat reported that Walmart plans to hire more than 2,000 technologists by the end of 2018.

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