Eurobites: Vodafone says Microsoft's AI is generating huge customer service benefits

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Telenor lines up new CEO; European smartphone shipments return to growth; Orange and Nokia woo developers.

Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

May 23, 2024

3 Min Read
Robot holding tin can on a string as a phone
(Source: Kittipong Jirasukhanont/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Vodafone says its use of Microsoft's generative AI technology has led to a 50% improvement in the "first-time resolution of critical customer journeys" during trials carried out at its call center in Sorrento, Italy. Microsoft's Azure OpenAI service is being used to bolster Vodafone's existing virtual assistant, TOBi, allowing it to resolve issues it can deal with without personal human contact but automatically transferring those it can't deal with to an actual human who will hopefully be able to find a solution. A second initiative, SuperAgent, is, claims Vodafone, helping customer care staff break free from straightforward, repetitive tasks so that they have more time to deal with their customers' knottier problems.

  • Telenor has lined up a new CEO to replace Sigve Brekke, the current CEO, whose contract stipulates retirement at the end of 2024 after more than nine years with the company. Brekke's replacement, Benedicte Schilbred Fasmer, is currently the CEO of SpareBank 1 SR-Bank and a board member of Vipps, the Norwegian payments-app company.

  • European smartphone shipments returned to growth in the first quarter of 2024 after a year in the doldrums, according to new figures from Counterpoint Research. Shipments were up 10% year-over-year, a stark contrast with Q1 2023, which saw a 21% fall on the previous year. China's Honor was the star performer, registering a 67% year-over-year increase in shipments, overtaking OPPO to take fifth position in Europe for the first time. Samsung rediscovered its mojo, ending a run of decline with a 7% increase, though things were less rosy for Apple, which saw a 1% decline as iPhone 15 sales continued to tail off.

  • Orange and Nokia are to host a Network as Code Hackathon at the Viva Tech startup show in France to provide a forum for developers wanting to build new applications using Nokia's Network as Code platform. The platform will provide application developers with access to software development kits (SDKs), network API documentation, a "sandbox" in which to create software code for application testing and code "snippets" that can be included in new applications.

  •  Swisscom has managed to get the finance in place for its forthcoming acquisition of Vodafone Italy. Following the issuance of 1.145 billion Swiss francs (US$1.259 billion) in domestic bonds earlier in the month, the operator yesterday (Wednesday) issued €4.0 billion ($4.3 billion) in fixed rate notes. The remaining amount will be financed by a €3.0 billion ($3.2 billion) bank term loan split into two tranches.

  • InterSAT has chosen Ku-Band capacity on Eutelsat's 70B satellite to extend its coverage in Central and Eastern Africa. The deal complements InterSAT's existing Ka-Band capacity on Eutelsat's Konnect satellite.

  • Sparkle, Telecom Italia's international services arm, has landed its BlueMed subsea cable in Chania (Greece). BlueMed is Sparkle's new cable connecting Italy with France, Greece and several other countries bordering the Mediterranean. It is part of the Blue & Raman subsea cable system built in partnership with Google and others that stretches further into the Middle East and up to Mumbai.

  • BT has combined with education tech firm Degreed to provide the AI-assisted MyCampus training platform for its employees. My Campus draws its content from digital skills platforms such as Pluralsight and LinkedIn Learning, as well as proprietary BT content including videos, courses, articles and podcasts. Expect those "your training is overdue" emails to start popping up anytime soon…

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Paul Rainford

Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

Paul is based on the Isle of Wight, a rocky outcrop off the English coast that is home only to a colony of technology journalists and several thousand puffins.

He has worked as a writer and copy editor since the age of William Caxton, covering the design industry, D-list celebs, tourism and much, much more.

During the noughties Paul took time out from his page proofs and marker pens to run a small hotel with his other half in the wilds of Exmoor. There he developed a range of skills including carrying cooked breakfasts, lying to unwanted guests and stopping leaks with old towels.

Now back, slightly befuddled, in the world of online journalism, Paul is thoroughly engaged with the modern world, regularly firing up his VHS video recorder and accidentally sending text messages to strangers using a chipped Nokia feature phone.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like