Microsoft and Wal-Mart team up
Microsoft and Wal-Mart are teaming up for a strategic partnership that will take on rival Amazon in both technology and retail. Wal-Mart is announcing today, at Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference, that it’s partnering with Microsoft to use the company’s cloud services. The five-year agreement will see Wal-Mart use Azure and Microsoft 365 across the company, alongside new projects focused on machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platforms.
Wal-Mart is Amazon’s biggest retail competitor, and Microsoft is Amazon’s largest cloud services rival. That rivalry isn’t lost on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who hinted in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, that it’s “absolutely core to this” new partnership. “How do we get more leverage as two organizations that have depth and breadth and investment to be able to outrun our respective competition,” says Nadella.
While the tech partnership will obviously benefit both companies, it also comes just weeks after reports suggested Microsoft is working on rival Amazon Go technology for cashier-free stores. I discussed this in past articles, how they intend to do away with the cashiers, trading you to do that job instead, now this? Microsoft is reportedly in talks with Wal-Mart for this technology, and the software maker has hired a computer vision specialist from Amazon. Amazon’s Go store in Seattle uses multiple camera and sensors that use computer vision algorithms to detect what items you’re taking out of the store so you’re automatically charged. Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with attaching cameras to shopping carts to track items.
Both Wal-Mart and Microsoft don’t reference too many of the future-facing parts of this strategic deal, and it’s mostly timed for Microsoft’s big partner conference in Las Vegas this week. However, this new deal could be a unique test ground for Microsoft’s bigger AI ambitions and any future plans it has to push other retailers to use its range of cloud services
My Concern is this; Once Wal-Mart (and other retailers) have no staff, who is going to earn the wages to buy the stuff in Wal-Mart?
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