Microsoft partners with Accenture and Avanade to build vertical AI services

Microsoft is extending its work in building custom virtual-support agents by working with Accenture and Avanade to build more vertical AI services.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is partnering with Accenture and Avanade to build custom AI services tailored for customers in specific industry verticals.


The partnership, announced May 22, builds on custom virtual-support agents that Microsoft has been developing for customers like HP and Macy's. That custom agent work, which Microsoft dubbed "Dynamics 365 AI solutions," doesn't have anything to do with Dynamics 365, Microsoft's CRM/ERP offerings. (I'm guessing Microsoft went with the Dynamics 365 branding for this because Dynamics is about customer support.)

Microsoft has been building custom agents for enterprise customers using the Microsoft Knowledge Graph, Bing data and Microsoft's machine-reading technology.

Microsoft is going to work with Accenture's Applied Intelligence group to build custom AI solutions aimed at the consumer-packaged goods market, telecommunications and retail, according to a blog post by Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs.

By combining Accenture's "Intelligent Customer Engagement (ICE) framework with Microsoft's AI Solution for Care, the pair will enable digital assistants "to better understand and respond to thousands of different customers' needs," Schuster wrote. Microsoft and Accenture also will bring the Accenture Intelligent Revenue Growth (IRG) offering onto Microsoft's AI platform for the packaged-goods market. IRG "uses machine learning to allow sales departments to identify opportunities and deploy them in the market up to ten times faster," Schuster's post said.

For those wondering what officially constitutes Microsoft's "AI platform," it includes AI tools, such as Visual Studio Code Tools for AI, the AI Toolkit for Azure IoT Edge and its Machine Learning Studio; AI frameworks including the Azure Cognitive Toolkit and the Onnx format; and "AI-related infrastructure," which Microsoft identifies as everything from Azure Cosmos DB, to the Azure SQL Database, Azure Kubernetes Service, its Data Lake Store and IoT Edge service.

Microsoft, Avanade and Accenture are working together to create a pooled team of dta scientists, engineers and architects who can provide early access to Microsoft AI technology. Accenture has 19,500 people currently involved its Accenture Applied Intelligence practice, and Microsoft has more than 8,000 employees focused on AI and AI-related research. Avanade, a joint venture created by Accenture and Microsoft in 2000, also has a strong AI focus.

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