Microsoft has joined hand with pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution company Walgreens Boots Alliance for its cloud computing solutions. The pharmacy chain as part of this strategic partnership will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing software as the two companies start innovation in healthcare sector.
Under the deal which spans seven years, Microsoft will provide Walgreens Boots Alliance 380,000 plus employee strength Office365 software, Windows 10 and other productivity tools, Walgreen on its part will move most of its information technology and cloud infrastructure to Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and cloud computing software Azure.
In addition to partnership in cloud computing solutions, Microsoft and Walgreens are working ways to innovate in health care delivery systems for low cost and quality health outcomes. The research and development investment will span several years by which the companies are planning to establish joint innovation centers in strategically important markets. Walgreens will start 12 digital health corners in its stores. They’re aimed at sale and merchandising of health care related select devices. Microsoft and Walgreens have resolved to focus more personalized health care related experiences from disease management to preventive self-care.
The deal is the most strategic move by Microsoft when other huge conglomerates including Amazon are pushing boundaries and have entered into healthcare and health technology space. Amazon in 2018 has pushed aggressively into the healthcare sector with filings of several healthcare related technology patents as well as partnerships with companies like Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan for employee health initiative.
To launch in Healthcare which a complex industry with number of players including pharmaceuticals, wholesalers, hospital, medical device maker, distributor and retail chains, a technology company like Microsoft needs tremendous expertise in the field. A partnership with a major enterprise in the industry like Walgreens gives Microsoft the credibility to go after other players in the space. Walgreens and other retail pharmacy players are wary of Amazon after the e-commerce giant bought pharmacy chain PillPack in June 2018. Walgreens has also recently partnered with Alphabet’s Life sciences division Verily for a project to help people take their medicine.
Microsoft has been actively pursuing partnerships with major companies for providing artificial intelligence and cloud computing solutions through its Azure platform. The recent partnerships include Kroger, the grocery store chain, Walmart and Gap, the fashion retailer. It has inked deals with MasterCard, Nielson, General Electric and Royal Dutch Shell. Microsoft’s stocks rose to 105.01 by 2.9% and Walgreens to 71.79 by 1.6% post announcement of the deal.