Microsoft announced that it has agreed to acquire Nuance Communications, a cloud, and artificial intelligence (AI) software company, for $19.7 billion in cash and debt.
The acquisition will bring together solutions and resources to deliver new cloud and AI capabilities across healthcare and other sectors, according to Microsoft. It is the latest phase in the Redmond-based company’s industry-specific cloud strategy.
In a tweet, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery and is a leader in the real-world implementation of enterprise AI.” “AI is the most important priority for technology, and healthcare is its most pressing application.”
Multiple clinical speech recognition software as a service (SaaS) offerings based on Microsoft Azure are among Nuance’s offerings. According to a press release, the company’s technologies integrate with key healthcare systems and are currently used in 77 percent of U.S. hospitals.
The acquisition of Nuance by Microsoft builds on the two companies’ current relationship, which was revealed in 2019 to help improve healthcare delivery. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare was launched last year to meet the needs of the rapidly changing and expanding healthcare industry.
“As we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Nuance, we will bring advanced AI technologies into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and build more meaningful connections,” Nadella said.
Nuance also offers AI knowledge and customer experience solutions in areas such as Interactive Voice Response, virtual assistants, and wireless and biometric solutions, in addition to healthcare.
Mark Benjamin will remain as CEO of Nuances and will report to Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s VP of Cloud and AI, according to the firm. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year, and it will be Microsoft’s second-largest acquisition after its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016. Microsoft paid $ 7.5 billion for ZeniMax Media last month.