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UAE-based telecommunications service provider EITC (du) has announced it has formalized an ongoing collaboration into a strategic partnership with Microsoft on an artificial intelligence program designed to empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and streamline the delivery of products and services.

Microsoft technologies such as Cognitive Services and Facial Text Speech is being evaluated  by du to strengthen overall customer experience through intelligent customer care, that will also  include preventive and predictive maintenance capabilities.

Over the past 10 months, du has been working closely with Microsoft on identifying ways to incorporate digitally transformative technologies such as AI and machine learning into the company's ICT infrastructure and train du employees on ways to leverage them. Some of Microsoft's technologies and platforms - such as its cloud services platform Azure, as well as its Cognitive Services and Facial Recognition platforms, are currently being showcased at EITC's newly-opened Idea Hub in Dubai.

This hub comes in part as EITC works to provide integrated ICT service, connecting people, knowledge, devices and information in support of the UAE Artificial Intelligence Strategy 2031 - UAE AI Strategy 2031.

"du has long seen the value of AI in general - and Microsoft Azure's Cognitive Services in particular - in enhancing the customer experience across all of our current touchpoints and digital channels," said Marwan Bindalmook, Senior Vice President - ICT Solutions and Smart City Operations in du. "We all live in a digital space; and providing services that are driven by machine intelligence allows us to deliver the always-on, personalised experiences required by a consumer market that is increasingly millennial."

Preventative maintenance is a solution that combines the Internet of Things with machine-learning models to monitor equipment and identify conditions early that are likely to result in sub-optimal performance or breakdowns. In identifying these conditions, intelligent back-office systems can raise alerts that inform providers ahead of time that a fault is about to occur.

Appropriately equipped field technicians can then be despatched to pre-emptively replace end-of-life components, leading to lower costs, happier customers and increased brand trust.

The intelligent cloud can also provide front-line employees with real-time information on customers, offering a 360-degree view of the individual, from simple profiles and past engagement, to preferences and likely purchases.

Over the past year, Microsoft has observed a sizeable surge across the Gulf region in the demand for AI solutions, in both the public and private sectors. According to a Microsoft survey, some 29% of GCC enterprises are looking to adopt AI solutions. Specific AI areas singled out as favourable adoption targets are business intelligence (41%); Internet of Things (37%); automated workflow (25%); predictive analytics (21%); and robotics and machine automation (14%).

"Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more," said Yvonne Chebib, Media, Telco & Growth industries Lead, Microsoft Gulf . "The intelligent cloud can play a transformative role in driving digital transformation for companies and governments. du has made enormous strides in assessing and developing some of the world's most advanced technologies. And we are confident that, through our partnership, the company will move swiftly towards the engagement of customers, the empowerment of employees, the optimization of operations and the reinvention of its products and services."

EITC's ICT solutions division empowers UAE government entities and organizations with cutting-edge, end-to-end ICT services, and leverages latest platforms and technologies such as Internet of Things, Cloud-based services and applications, managed services, Blockchain and AI.