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Accenture and Microsoft take Unilever on 18-month 'cloud-only' enterprise journey

Consumer goods giant Unilever has turned to Accenture and Microsoft to support its push to shutter its datacentres and become a ‘cloud-only’ enterprise

Accenture and Microsoft claim to have jointly completed one of the largest and most complex cloud migrations in the consumer goods space on behalf of Unilever.

The 18-month project has seen the consumer goods giant transition into a cloud-only enterprise, with the bulk of its off-premise estate now being run on the Microsoft Azure public cloud platform.

The company is, however, known to also use the Google Cloud platform, with both firms previously going on record to discuss how they were working together to bolster the sustainability of Unilever’s supply chains and product sourcing strategies.

Judson Althoff, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, said Azure will provide the “foundation” of the company’s cloud estate.

“Unilever’s end-to-end digitisation will enable rapid innovation across its entire business. From embracing the industrial metaverse across its factories to reimagining how its lines of business can do more with tools like Azure OpenAI Service, Unilever’s digital-first approach will empower it to grow resiliently and exceed the industry’s pace of innovation.”

Unilever, whose 400-plus consumer brands are used by 3.4 billion people daily, said the cloud migration project will make the business more agile and responsive to changing consumer demands, and speed up its research and development processes.

The company said it also plans to draw on the project to tap into emerging metaverse technologies that will enable it to use real-time data from digital twin versions of its factories to glean insights into the inner workings of its operations, and use automation to bring about customer and employee experience improvements.

Steve McCrystal, chief enterprise and technology officer at Unilever, also provided some further insight into how the project looks set to transform the company’s operations.   

“Unilever is a truly data-powered organisation. We’re using advanced analytics to make better-informed decisions quicker than ever before. Working with Accenture and Microsoft on this global transformation project, we can respond to ever-changing consumer needs faster, allocate our resources more effectively to focus on what drives growth, and bring services and products to the market faster,” he said.

Nicole van Det, senior managing director and global account executive at Accenture, said Unilever’s digital transformation is a process that will bring business resiliency and product innovation benefits to the firm.

“The path to business resilience now and in the future is through total enterprise reinvention – which involves the transformation of every part of the business – with cloud at the core,” said van Det.

“With access to the full continuum of cloud capabilities, including generative AI, Unilever has the elasticity to drive innovation faster, accelerate growth and continue to set the pace as a digital powerhouse and leader in its industry.”

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