International omnichannel retailer of technology products and services, Currys, has selected Accenture and Microsoft to deliver the core cloud technology infrastructure that will enable it to leverage the latest generative AI technologies. 


Accenture is a US multinational professional services company (IT services, cloud, data, AI, and consulting) headquartered in Dublin, that helps leading businesses, governments and other organisations build their digital core. Accenture says it has 742,000 “people serving clients” in more than 120 countries.   


Accenture says their involvement with Microsoft, as part of their joint venture called Avanade (established back in 2000), will be working closely with Currys to “modernise, secure and simplify its technology estate” with the intention “enabling Currys to accelerate the adoption of Microsoft AI technologies such as Azure OpenAI Service”. 

What Will It Do For Currys? 

Currys says that using Microsoft’s AI technologies will enable it to “unlock value across every part of the business” bringing benefits like: 

  • Making it easier for customers to shop due to personalised and relevant product information and suggestions tailored to the consumer’s needs at the correct the moment. 
  • Improved customer retention and loyalty through the provision of improved post-sales experience and warranty services. 
  • A better experience for staff because they will be equipped with faster and easier access to information including product availability, delivery costs, and add-on services so they can better serve customers and identify potential cross and upselling opportunities. 
  • Future growth and profitability through the integration of AI into marketing, HR, finance, and legal processes. Currys anticipates that this will increase productivity across core business functions and that AI could be used to create/reveal opportunities to improve omnichannel experiences. 

Net Zero?

It’s also hoped that this transition to embracing AI will help accelerate Currys’ journey to meet its net zero emissions before the 2040 target by moving nine existing data centres (including more than 2000 servers and 200 applications) onto Azure, to create a more energy efficient infrastructure. 

Technological Leap 

Alex Baldock, Group CEO of Currys plc said: “AI is the biggest technological leap of our lifetime. Currys exists to help everyone enjoy amazing technology, so as well as bringing the benefits of AI to millions of customers, we’ll do the same to our own business.” 

Ralph Haupter, President (EMEA) at Microsoft said of its new deal with Currys: “By deploying the latest cloud and AI technologies, Currys can enhance the shopping experience for millions of customers, both in-store and online, whilst ensuring its 25,000 employees have the insights at their fingertips to unlock value across the entire business.” 


What Currys hasn’t mentioned in its announcement about its deal with Microsoft and Accenture is that it will enable Currys to compete with other major retailers who are already leveraging AI technologies from Microsoft and Accenture. These include, for example, John Lewis Partnership, Argos (part of Sainsbury’s), Tesco, Amazon, and AO World.  

Currys has faced mixed financial performance in recent years due to challenges like increased competition, supply chain disruptions, and changing consumer behaviour. Also, Currys has seen a decline in physical store sales but has tried to offset this with growth in its online sales. Efforts to streamline operations and cut costs have been part of their strategy to adapt to market conditions and improve financial stability, and the deal with Microsoft and Accenture could, therefore, be seen as part of this strategy. 

Open AI Announces “Omni” Model 

Just four days after the Currys/Microsoft/ Accenture announcement, OpenAI (which is a close partner of Microsoft) made another significant AI announcement with the release of its next-generation GPT-4o (“o” for “omni”) model – now available in ChatGPT. Open AI says it is: “a step towards much more natural human-computer interaction” and that it “accepts as input any combination of text, audio, and image and generates any combination of text, audio, and image outputs.” 

OpenAI has also been keen to stress how fast it is (compared to 3.5 and 4.0) saying: “It can respond to audio inputs in as little as 232 milliseconds, with an average of 320 milliseconds, which is similar to human response time in a conversation.” 

Omni’s key USPs include advanced contextual understanding, superior problem-solving skills, a broader knowledge base, and (apparently) robust ethical safeguards. 

Here’s a brief summary of the key features of GPT-4o: 

  • Multimodal capabilities. GPT-4o can process and generate text, images, audio, and video, enabling diverse applications like image descriptions, video summaries, and interactive media experiences. 
  • Improved contextual understanding. It can maintain coherence over long conversations, making it highly effective for virtual assistants and other roles requiring extended interactions. 
  • Advanced problem-solving skills. OpenAI says GPT-4o offers enhanced reasoning, logic, and problem-solving abilities, suitable for tackling complex mathematical problems, data analysis, and scientific research. 
  • Real-time adaptability. Omni can adjust responses dynamically based on user feedback and changing contexts, improving personalisation and accuracy. 
  • A broader knowledge base, because it’s been trained on a larger, more diverse dataset, thereby enabling it to offer accurate and informed responses across a wide range of topics. 
  • Ethical and safe AI practices (according to Accenture) which incorporate advanced safety mechanisms to detect and mitigate harmful content, bias, and misinformation. 
  • Enhanced integration capabilities for easy embedding into various applications, such as chatbots, customer service platforms, and content creation tools. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Currys’ collaboration with Microsoft and Accenture to integrate AI technologies into its operations is a strategic move aimed at transforming its business model and enhancing its competitive edge. By leveraging advanced AI solutions, Currys hopes to streamline its technology infrastructure, improve operational efficiency, unlock value, improve productivity, and deliver personalised customer experiences. Currys no doubt hopes that AI could help it turn around some of the performance of recent years and improve how its online business operates as it moves away from physical stores. 

For Currys, the benefits are, therefore, many. For example, the more tailored and personalised shopping experiences that AI can bring could enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Also, improved post-sales services, facilitated by AI, could further boost customer retention. Additionally, equipping staff with AI-powered could help drive sales growth. Not forgetting the core functions, integrating AI into HR, finance, and legal processes could increase productivity for Currys and reveal new growth opportunities, particularly in enhancing omnichannel experiences. 

It could also be noted that transitioning to a more energy-efficient infrastructure powered by Microsoft’s Azure could help Currys in its net zero emissions by 2040 ambitions, helping the company to present a greener image. 

This story also shows how (in the broader business landscape) AI is proving to be a significant advantage across various sectors. Companies using AI are being seen to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and make data-driven decisions more effectively. The ability of AI to process vast amounts of data and generate actionable insights is transforming industries from retail and finance to healthcare and logistics, providing a competitive edge to those who adopt it. 

The recent launch of OpenAI’s GPT-4o also underscores the rapid advancements in AI technology. With its multimodal capabilities, GPT-4o looks like being a versatile tool for diverse applications. Also, for many ChatGPT users, news that it’s extremely fast will be welcome, and its real-time adaptability, superior problem-solving skills and broad knowledge base may make it a very useful model for the many businesses that are increasingly reliant on generative AI to help with their productivity, innovation, efficiency, and customer engagement. 

For OpenAI, the launch of GPT-4o could, of course, strengthens its position in what is already now a highly competitive AI industry and could (probably for a brief period) set a new benchmark for competitors.

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