Microsoft Corp.’s

MSFT 2.11%

$16 billion deal for

Nuance Communications Inc.

NUAN -0.38%

is the latest sign that the next battleground for technology giants will be in healthcare, an industry whose need to embrace data and software was underscored by the pandemic.

The acquisition will help Microsoft tap into Nuance’s big business selling its software to healthcare systems, according to analysts and healthcare executives. Speech-recognition software like that developed by Nuance is emerging as an important new opportunity in medicine as doctors seek to speed up documentation of patient work with dictation rather than getting bogged down taking notes, executives said.

“This coming together is about empowering healthcare,”

Satya Nadella,

Microsoft’s chief executive, said in an investor call….

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