It’s a bigger cause than just healthcare, Microsoft says, it’s about the future of AI-powered business.
Microsoft recently announced that it had completed its acquisition of speech recognition software maker Nuance Communications Inc. The news comes a year after Microsoft first announced plans to buy Nuance.
The nearly $20 billion deal was Microsoft’s largest since its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn in 2016. That is, until Microsoft announced a nearly $70 billion deal earlier this year to buy game publisher Activision Blizzard. This plan is still being examined by the authorities. The deal between Microsoft and Nuance was approved by US government agencies in 2021. However, the plan was halted last December after the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a competition investigation. The CMA finally gave its approval last week.
Based in Burlington, MA, Nuance Communications began as an optical scanner company founded by famed inventor Ray Kurzweil. Through a series of acquisitions, in 2001 the company, then ScanSoft, acquired speech recognition Dragon Systems, maker of a speech and speech recognition program called NaturallySpeaking. Nuance’s popular dictation and transcription software has since seen widespread professional use, but is particularly dominant in the healthcare industry. Doctors and medical staff use it to automatically transcribe patient notes and other records.
Microsoft and Nuance will use AI to create “smooth, personalized customer experiences” – Nadella
In a press release noting the closing of the acquisition, Microsoft assured the healthcare industry that Nuance’s products and technologies will continue to serve them. But Microsoft says this deal is about more than just healthcare. It’s about using artificial intelligence (AI) to power cloud-based solutions for healthcare, financial services, retail and telecom, Microsoft said. The company outlined a vision of Nuance’s AI-based technology that extends much further into the cloud ecosystem.
“Driven by a shared vision to develop outcomes-based AI, Microsoft and Nuance will enable companies across all industries to accelerate their business goals with our security-focused, cloud-based solutions enriched with powerful, vertically-optimized AI. Customers will benefit from improved consumer, patient, clinician and staff experiences and ultimately improved productivity and financial performance,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the acquisition helps enable Microsoft to use AI to create “smooth, personalized customer experiences” in every industry.
Microsoft said Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin will remain in the position and will now report to Scott Guthrie, who leads the Microsoft Cloud + AI group.