Microsoft Completes $19.7B Nuance Acquisition
Microsoft’s purchase of Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion is officially complete, providing the tech giant with all of Nuance’s technology and business services, especially the healthcare portfolio. The nearly year-long process wrapped up after the United Kingdom and European Union signed off on the deal as one that wouldn’t curtail competition as a monopoly.
The acquisition of one of the most prominent legacy voice tech firms by Microsoft showcases how much value voice tech can bring to specific industry verticals. That goes double for healthcare. Nuance spun off its automotive services into Cerence in 2019, leaving manly contact centers and healthcare clients. Microsoft has emphasized its interest in Nuance’s healthcare work since the purchase process began. It’s a sector that has only multiplied in value since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The rapid adoption of the technology, provided by Nuance and other firms, is assured now. Buying Nuance lets Microsoft dive right into the action without having to start from square one. Microsoft and its resources will now underpin the voice services provided by Nuance to doctors and as triage and scheduling assistants to patients.
“Completion of this significant and strategic acquisition brings together Nuance’s best-in-class conversational AI and ambient intelligence with Microsoft’s secure and trusted industry cloud offerings,” Microsoft Cloud + AI Group executive vice president Scott Guthrie said. “This powerful combination will help providers offer more affordable, effective and accessible healthcare, and help organizations in every industry create more personalized and meaningful customer experiences. I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome the Nuance team to our Microsoft family.”
The acquisition follows a long history of partnerships between Nuance and Microsoft around voice AI. Nuance’s Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant has run on the Azure cloud platform since 2019, transcribing conversations between doctors and patients and helping fill in electronic health records. Microsoft added virtual check-ups via Nuance to the Teams messaging platform in 2020 as telemedicine exploded in popularity.
The pandemic accelerated Nuance’s healthcare work over the last year as demand sped up the industry’s testing and adoption of technology. Health technology developer Cerner added the Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant to its platform, for instance, while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) started using Nuance’s Dragon Medical One platform in the fall. The company launched a COVID-19 and vaccine assistant at the end of last year and recently created a voice assistant for Walgreens to help schedule vaccine appointments. Nuance’s own acquisition of medical voice tech startup Saykara in February will also likely play a role in future Microsoft offerings. Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin will retain his title, and report to Guthrie as Nuance fuses with Microsoft’s cloud and AI work.
“Combining the power of Nuance’s deep vertical expertise and proven business outcomes across healthcare, financial services, retail, telecommunications and other industries with Microsoft’s global cloud ecosystems will enable us to accelerate our innovation and deploy our solutions more quickly, more seamlessly and at greater scale to solve our customers’ most pressing challenges,” Benjamin said. “As Microsoft and Nuance come together as one organization, we are excited about the opportunities ahead for our technology, employees, customers and partners.”