Unilever has brought in Vodafone to help manage its mobility services globally in a three-year deal, designed to improve service levels.

Covering 63 countries, the deal will see Vodafone supply nearly 50,000 Unilever employees with devices, connectivity and managed mobile services. The aim is to improve the transparency of Unilever’s mobile communications expenditure.

Unilever, which is largely SAP-based, makes brands including PG Tips tea, Persil washing powder and Bertolli olive oil. Vodafone will provide it with consultancy on how to gain greater competitive advantage through deploying innovative mobile solutions.

Vodafone will also provide advice on the effective management of consumer devices and applications in the workplace, such as personal iPhones and netbooks.

The two companies will operate a graduate trainee exchange programme to encourage further mobile innovation in the workplace.

Unilever recently announced a major drive to halve the environmental impact of its operations and supply chain within a decade, with technology expected to be crucial in supporting the efforts. It has been standardising its internal systems and supply chain technology to improve efficiency and cut wasted processes.

Pascal Visee, chief enterprise support officer at Unilever, said: "We’ve set ourselves the challenging target of doubling the business while reducing our environmental impact. Mobile services play a crucial role in working towards this goal, as they will support us in creating an agile and cost competitive organisation that operates in a sustainable way."