Unilever goes cloud-only with completion of Microsoft migration

After an 18-month transformation, the consumer goods company is now using Azure across operations.

Unilever products

Unilever has more than 400 brands. (Courtesy photo)

Unilever is now in the cloud.

The news: Unilever, Accenture and Microsoft completed a cloud migration that sees the consumer goods company become a cloud-ony enterprise. Unilever is now using Microsoft’s Azure as its primary cloud platform, and the company said it will provide additional computing power to transform operations.

What went into the migration? Microsoft, Accenture and joint venture Avanade worked over 18 months with Unilever, which has more than 400 brands used by 3.4 billion people. The companies said it was “one of the largest and most complex cloud migrations in the consumer goods industry.”

What does the transition mean for Unilever? The consumer goods company will be able to speed up project launches, and make improvements both to customer service and operational efficiency. It will also assist in sustainability efforts to curb carbon emissions.

The companies outlined the following benefits that the migration will open up:

  • Innovation, including metaverse technologies that use digital twins in factories.
  • Trendspotting and decisionmaking: More computing power will enhance Unilever’s ability to use data and AI to forecast and adapt to the market.
  • Customer and employee experiences can be enhanced using the Azure OpenAI Service to increase automation.
  • Reducing carbon footprint: With the move to cloud-only, Unilever will exit data centers and introduce Green Cloud Advisor to facilitate the transition to the cloud environment.

Key quote from Steve McCrystal, Unilever Chief Enterprise & Technology Officer: “Unilever is a truly data-powered organization. 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.”

CPGs are tech companies, too: Say “digital” at a consumer goods company, and that could detail the priorities being set across many different operations, from manufacturing to customer service to marketing. In each area, companies are processing large amounts of data that can be harnessed to make improvements, and applying innovative approaches that create more efficiency to increase profitability. To power all of this change, companies have an increasing need for powerful digital infrastructure that will provide stability, while also offering the flexibility to keep testing and implementing new technologies and methodologies as they arise. This is commonly understood at tech companies, which have embraced the cloud as a bedrock of internet-enabled business growth. Unilever's transition to cloud-only shows that enhancing digital capabilities is just as important to companies in the business of physical goods.

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