Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning , Next-Generation Technologies & Secure Development

Microsoft to Buy Nuance Communications for $19.7 Billion

Deal Part of Effort to Provide Industry-Specific Cloud Offerings
Microsoft to Buy Nuance Communications for $19.7 Billion

Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced it will acquire cloud-based speech technology and artificial intelligence vendor Nuance Communications in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7 billion. The deal is expected to close by the end of this year.

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Nuance provides artificial intelligence and customer engagement solutions, including interactive voice response, virtual assistants and digital and biometric solutions, to companies around the world across all industries, Microsoft notes in a statement.

"This expertise will come together with the breadth and depth of Microsoft’s cloud, including Azure, Teams, and Dynamics 365, to deliver next-generation customer engagement and security solutions," Microsoft says.

Healthcare Sector Services

Microsoft said the acquisition of Burlington, Massachusetts-based Nuance, which has a large presence in the healthcare market, is its latest move in its effort to provide industry-specific cloud offerings. In healthcare, these efforts have also included the 2020 introduction of the collaboration platform Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

Nuance is probably best known in the healthcare sector for its cloud-based medical transcription services and speech recognition.

In June 2017, Nuance's medical transcription services were disrupted for days after it was hit with NotPetya ransomware, which spread through the company’s systems.

Complex Industry

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: "Complex industries work to better everyone if there is a real ecosystem approach where everybody does good stuff in their swim lane instead of trying to stretch and do everything - so that's at least how we will approach.

"We know something about AI; Nuance knows something about AI. We know about cloud. We know about data. EHR [electronic health record] vendors like Epic, Cerner know about databases in healthcare. All that ultimately, though, is just technology to help providers."

In that same interview, Nuance Communications CEO Mark Benjamin noted that his company has already been working closely with Microsoft.

"We really feel there’s a great opportunity where we're not only solving the industry's hardest problems. ... Healthcare is one example where we believe we can create more access to care, and we believe that is a great calling for the two companies to come together for," he said.

"We serve almost 600,000 physicians here in the U.S., and could you imagine going to 15 years of training to practice your profession and then learn that for every one hour of patient time, you spent upward of two hours in documentation and administrative time and it's truly a burden. Our solutions, coupled with Microsoft's platform and capabilities, will … really reduce that administrative burden … improving the quality of care, improving patient satisfaction."

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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