Microsoft Inks 'Multibillion' Copilot Deal with Hitachi's Digital Industry Arm

Hitachi and Microsoft have agreed to a three-year partnership that entails integrating Microsoft's various AI and cloud products with Hitachi's industry IoT software platform.

Exact terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but Microsoft's announcement on Monday describes it as a "multibillion-dollar collaboration." It expands on the existing partnership between Microsoft and Hitachi; the two have already co-developed solutions to modernize aging manufacturing and logistics businesses using, for instance, Microsoft's Teams platform and metaverse technologies.

The new partnership centers, in part, around Lumada, Hitachi's data analytics platform for edge devices in industry settings. Microsoft will enable Lumada to integrate with its Azure cloud, as well as its AI products, including GitHub Copilot, Copilot for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure OpenAI Service.

Specifically, the GitHub Copilot and Microsoft 365 integrations will "improve operational efficiency and application development," per the announcement, while the Azure OpenAI integration will "enhance its customer service." Combining GitHub Copilot and Azure OpenAI with Lumada's existing system design capabilities generates accurate and high-quality code between 70 and 90 percent of the time, according to Hitachi.

Another Hitachi industry solution, JP1 Cloud Services, will also integrate Microsoft's generative AI technologies into its native operations management capabilities. With a customer base of 20,000, the AI-boosted JP1 can potentially reduce the time it takes for users to react to operations interruptions by as much as 66 percent, according to Hitachi.

Also as part of the deal, Hitachi will set up a training program to educate over 50,000 people on generative AI, with a specific focus on GitHub Copilot and Azure OpenAI.

The partnership also has some vaguely described goals around improving frontline workers' productivity, as well as "bolstering cloud services, enhancing security, and mitigating the environmental footprint of data centers."

"We are entering a new era of AI with the promise to deliver transformative business outcomes across every role and industry," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a prepared statement. "Our expanded partnership with Hitachi will bring together the power of the Microsoft Cloud -- including Microsoft Copilot -- with Hitachi's industry expertise to improve the productivity of 270,000 Hitachi employees and help address customers' biggest challenges, including sustainability."

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Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.