Home5GVodafone and IBM put National Express on digital highway with IoT, 5G, AI

Vodafone and IBM put National Express on digital highway with IoT, 5G, AI

Vodafone and IBM have won a contract with UK based transport company National Express to upgrade its IT infrastructure, and prepare it for the “next wave of transformation” with 5G, artificial intelligence, edge computing, and software defined networking.

Vodafone and IBM signed a $550 million collaboration agreement in January to target the connectivity, multi-cloud and data needs of enterprises as they more broadly utilise the internet of things (IoT).

The Vodafone-IBM partnership, set as an eight-year accord, is “designed to act like a start-up and be responsive to rapidly changing market and customer demands.” Each company has a team co-located in London to develop joint solutions.

The deal with National Express, also for eight years, will lay the IT groundwork for the firm to “innovate with the latest (and future) technologies”. National Express wants to be in position to offer personalised passenger experiences, flexible options, and always-connected vehicles, said Vodafone. 

The agreement covers the provision and integration of multiple clouds, alongside “digital services… [to] underpin” the coach company’s ‘digital first’ approach, and raise customer and safety standards, drive efficiencies and grow business. 

National Express already takes connectivity services from Vodafone. It will now migrate to IBM’s hybrid cloud platform to be able to manage multiple clouds from different vendors in different locations. The objective is to support usage spikes, and raise security and risk management.

Vodafone and IBM venture will also give National Express access to 5G, IoT, edge computing, and analytics to “adapt to today’s digitally savvy consumers… and drive operational excellence,” said Vodafone. 

Debbie O’Shea, group chief information officer at National Express, said: “This enables us to move to a cloud environment giving us a future-proofed platform with increased flexibility that will better support our business. It also will provide access to emerging and innovative new technologies.”

Greg Hyttenrauch, cloud and security director at Vodafone Business, said: “As cloud services and connectivity become ever more inseparable, there is a clear need for the combined expertise we can deliver. We will provide National Express with the holistic solution it requires to drive digital innovation across its business – faster, simpler and at scale.”

Michael Valocchi, general manager for the IBM-Vodafone venture at IBM, said: “National Express can now tap the combined strengths of IBM and Vodafone and introduce new, innovative services faster and succeed in a digital world.” 

The deal with IBM gives Vodafone’s business customers access to IBM’s cloud offerings and managed services. The pair have cited personalised retail, energy field engineering, and agricultural insights as primary targets.

They claim more than 70 per cent of enterprises today are using up to 15 cloud environments as they strive for digital transformation and to take advantage of new services. Such complexity is an opportunity to make things simpler and more effective, they said.

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