Our deep relationship with Microsoft has delivered many successes over the years, in the products and services together we offer to customers, and in Telstra’s own operations. Today, we extend our partnership even further in ways that help us and our customers prepare for the future.

Microsoft and Telstra share a commitment to work closely with customers to help them achieve their business goals. This has been especially true during the disruption brought by COVID-19, proving how transformative digital ways of working and living can be – especially when there is no other option. As Australians chart a course out of their immediate response into a long-term reimagining of how they work, live and play, we want to help them emerge stronger and more resilient.

We already have a longstanding relationship with Microsoft and have worked together in areas that are market-leading and create unique experiences for our customers. Over the past 18 months, we have exclusively launched Xbox All Access for Australian gamers, announced Telstra Calling for Microsoft Office 365 for business customers to unify communications, and co-collaborated on Telstra Data Hub to help industries better manage their data securely.

Expanding our strategic alliance with Microsoft means we can focus on developing and co-collaborating on innovative and sustainable products, driving efficiency within our own business and our customers’. Using data and AI throughout our business and in our operations means decisions can be made with deep insights, reducing how long it takes to launch and ultimately, delivering better products.

Today’s announcement formalises some of the streams of work we are already collaborating on as well as new initiatives we will work on together. The global scale of Microsoft’s platform, tools, and applications, together with Telstra’s network solutions, reliability and leadership, will drive new and unique solutions for Australia.

As a centrepiece of our ongoing partnership, Telstra and Microsoft are collaborating to build an Azure ‘digital twin’ for our customers’ and our own commercial buildings and selected other infrastructure. A ‘digital twin’ is a structure that maps physical environments into the virtual space that provide an at-a-glance view of what is happening in the physical world. This helps better visualise the physical asset and its properties (be it a building, a farm, a mine, a shopping centre or hospital, etc. and its electricity, network, security, or water assets). It also helps immensely with scenario and what-if planning.

Below is the Digital Twin of our office in Melbourne; as you can see, we are able to monitor (and, in the future, potentially control) different physical assets in our building:

We also share an understanding with Microsoft that cloud combined with 5G will enable intelligent devices to be securely deployed on a much greater scale; this will be the cornerstone for IoT and AI applications and devices. As I have said before, we are entering the fourth industrial revolution in which we are already combining cloud with IoT, Edge, AI and digital twin capability to develop important new industry solutions in areas such as asset tracking, supply chain management, telematics and smart spaces solutions.

Last year, we launched the Telstra Data Hub, a modular, cloud-based platform designed to reduce the friction and cost of securely sharing data across organisations. Only a year later, we are already helping customers like The Queensland Government, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Charles Sturt University realise the value of their data to optimise their operations.

We have also selected Microsoft Azure as our preferred cloud provider for ongoing internal digital transformation. Azure will provide the digital foundations for Telstra’s strategic plan to streamline and simplify operations, transitioning from legacy and on-premise applications to modern cloud-based solutions.

Our commitment to acting on climate change is also reinforced through this partnership. In July, Telstra and our subsidiary Belong were the first telcos in Australia to be certified carbon neutral in our operations, and we have set ambitious goals to continue to lessen our impact on the environment. Today’s announcement is another proof point in this ambition. We know that significantly reducing emissions at the same time as the demand for connectivity is rising rapidly is one of the biggest challenges in the telecommunications industry.

COVID-19 has, by necessity, accelerated the digital transformation of thousands of Australian businesses including our own. Continuing to build a strong digital capability will allow us to create products and solutions that can help change the course of Australia’s digital economy with lasting impact.

For our customers, this will mean more innovative products across all segments of the market. We will continue work with Microsoft to solve business challenges for Australian enterprises as we aspire to reach a new level of technology leadership. We know that driving further digital innovation will strengthen our economy and will contribute towards a sustainable, connected future where everyone can thrive.