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Walmart establishes strategic partnership with Microsoft

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart is establishing a strategic partnership with Microsoft to accelerate its digital transformation in retail, empower associates, and make shopping faster and easier for customers around the world.

“Walmart’s commitment to technology is centered around creating incredibly convenient ways for customers to shop and empowering associates to do their best work,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Walmart is a people-led, tech-empowered company, and we’re excited about what this technology partnership will bring for our customers and associates. Whether it’s combined with our agile cloud platform or leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence to work smarter, we believe Microsoft will be a strong partner in driving our ability to innovate even further and faster.”

Walmart has chosen Microsoft as its preferred and strategic cloud provider, tapping into the full range of Microsoft’s cloud solutions, the retailer said. The five-year agreement covers Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365, with plans to overhaul existing Walmart applications in “cloud-native” fashion with help from Microsoft engineers.

Microsoft has been wooing retailers such as Target Corp. and Kroger Co. to its Azure cloud computing service to capitalize on retailers’ hesitancy to partner with Amazon’s cloud business, known as Amazon Web Services, which generates the lion’s share of Amazon’s profit.

“Walmart is a pioneering retailer, committed to empowering its employees and delivering the best experience for its customers wherever they are,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “The world’s leading companies run on our cloud, and I’m thrilled to partner with Walmart to accelerate their digital transformation with Microsoft Azure and Microsoft 365.”

Walmart noted that it 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.

Walmart said the flexible, secure and rapidly scalable global technology will significantly accelerate the retailer’s ability to execute in three key areas:

  • Digital transformation — The investment in Microsoft Azure is a continuation of Walmart’s cloud journey and extends across Walmart’s family of brands and international businesses, allowing them to leverage Microsoft’s public cloud to capitalize on the depth and breadth of Microsoft’s computing capacity; seamlessly manage workloads in an elastic environment; manage costs; and leverage access to new tool sets to innovate faster.
  • Innovation — Whether it’s a continued focus on site availability and speed, or the ability to quickly and seamlessly launch new features, customers will continue to see Walmart innovating to save them time and money across the shopping journey. There are also massive benefits to operating at scale as Walmart builds a global IoT platform on Azure, from connected HVAC and refrigeration units to reduce energy usage in thousands of U.S. stores or applying machine learning when routing thousands of trucks in the supply chain.
  • Changing how it works —Walmart continues to foster a curious, collaborative, accountable and agile culture to position the company for further growth. To do that, it’s critical to have tools that encourage those skills and traits. Through this partnership, Walmart is investing in its people with a phased rollout of Microsoft 365 providing associates with the productivity tools to foster a culture of collaboration, creativity and communication. Microsoft’s modern workplace platform supports connected teams and breaks down silos — with access to a full range of tools including Microsoft Workplace Analytics, Microsoft Stream and Microsoft OneDrive, Walmart associates will have access to leading collaboration, productivity and sharing tools so they can save time and work better.

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