Industry-Specific AI Brings Together Microsoft, Accenture, Avanade

The companies plan to use Microsoft's ecosystem of cloud-based AI technologies to create intelligent solutions for specific industries.

Gluon Deep Learning Tool

Microsoft, Accenture's Applied Intelligence unit and Azure cloud services specialist Avanade, are teaming up to deliver artificial intelligence (AI) applications that fit the needs of enterprises and the industry verticals in which they operate.

Although Microsoft has no shortage of developer tools and cloud services that help organizations harness the power of AI, the Redmond, Wash. software giant it taking more of a turn-key approach this time, according to Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Commercial Partner Channels and Programs at Microsoft.

"Business decision makers aren't interested in APIs or individual services. They want out-of-the-box solutions that simplify and solve their business processes," commented Schuster in a May 22 LinkedIn post regarding the new partnership. Intended to boost customer engagement and sales, the companies are working on solutions for a variety of industries, including telecommunications, retail and consumer-packaged goods, she added.

In terms of connecting with customers, the firms are combining the Intelligent Customer Engagement framework from Accenture with the customer-care capabilities in Microsoft's business AI portfolio, such as those found in Dynamics 365. On the revenue-generation front, Microsoft AI and Accenture's Accenture Intelligent Revenue Growth will combine to help consumer-packaged goods companies capitalize on hidden sales opportunities, Schuster said.

Finally, Microsoft, Accenture and Avanade are creating a team of AI experts, including data scientists and engineers that will assist enterprise customers in their own AI-enabled development efforts.

Machine Learning for Manufacturers

Epicor is also betting that Microsoft's growing portfolio of cloud-based AI solutions will imbue its enterprise resource planning (ERP) offerings for manufacturers and distributors with added intelligence.

In a separate announcement, the business software management company said it will be serving up two of its ERP products, Epicor ERP and Prophet 21, from Microsoft's AI-infused Azure cloud-computing platform to customers worldwide.

Steve Murphy, CEO of Epicor, cited intensifying interest in cloud ERP—more than three quarters of company prospects have inquired about cloud deployments—as a contributing factor. "As that deployment model becomes the norm, we are ready to enable our customers to move to the cloud with confidence," he stated.

Azure-backed ERP from Epicor is just the start.

The firm plans to roll out ready-made solutions for midmarket manufacturers and distributors using Microsoft's machine learning and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Somewhat echoing the conversational AI trend that has captured the attention of the IT industry of late, the company said it is also exploring ways to incorporate Microsoft's speech-to-text and advanced search capabilities for improved interactions between its applications and its users.

Microsoft isn't the only leading technology company using AI to bridge the human-computer divide.

Google impressed audiences during its recent I/O conference when CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated how Google Assistant will soon be able to place calls to book salon appointments and restaurant reservations without human intervention. Powered by Google's Duplex AI engine, Assistant was able to carry on human-like phone conversations without betraying its silicon and software origins to the people on the other end of the line.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...