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Cisco Buys Accompany, Threatens Microsoft's LinkedIn Dominance

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Cisco Systems CSCO recently completed the buyout of Accompany, an AI-based relationship intelligence platform, for $270 million in cash and “assumed equity awards.”

Accompany boasts of robust enterprise AI capabilities that leverage machine learning which automates search, creation and update profiles on corporate executives. The newly acquired company is set to join Collaboration Technology Group (“CTG”) of Cisco.

To further strengthen Cisco’s collaboration portfolio, CEO and Founder of Accompany, Amy Chang will lead CTG as a senior vice president. The company is expected to benefit enormously from the commendable AI experience that Chang brings on board.

Intensifying Enterprise Collaboration Competition

Per a Synergy Research Group article, both Cisco and Microsoft MSFT are close contenders, with the former taking a marginal lead in the enterprise collaboration market, pertaining to fourth-quarter 2017 revenues data.

The research further elaborates into premise and cloud collaboration. In premise division, Cisco has more than 5% point advancement over Microsoft and is greater than 15% ahead of IBM IBM which is third in the pack. Meanwhile, cloud collaboration revenues were greater for Microsoft, roughly ahead of Cisco by 3% and Google (taking the third position) by almost 5%.

The latest acquisition will help Cisco to take on Microsoft’s LinkedIn platform, which comprises users mostly seeking jobs or job holders who are required to update their profiles themselves.

Notably, Accompany furnishes real-time insights on senior managers and the well-known position holders to empower the user with the required know-how before meeting the executive. Moreover, Accompany keeps a tab “for every single Fortune 500 CEO.”

Cisco has already integrated its Cisco Spark with Webex Platform which enhanced Webex Meeting and enabled it to introduce Webex Teams which is capable of locking horns with Microsoft Teams.

Per Tractica report, enterprise AI applications revenues are projected to grow at a CAGR of 64.3% from $358 million (in 2016) to a whopping $31.2 billion by 2025.

With Webex Meetings, Webex Devices and Webex Teams yielding results, we believe Cisco is well poised to capitalize on the emerging AI based enterprise applications. We expect Cisco to increase spending on this field post Accompany acquisition. This will likely broaden the scale of its operations such that it can cater to the workforce across the industry to match the 16-year old LinkedIn.

Notably, Cisco has returned 21.2% year to date compared with the S&P 500’s gain of just 2.7%. In comparison, Microsoft and Alphabet shares have returned 15.1% and 5%, respectively while IBM has lost 5%.



Empowered CRM Platform

With Accompany, Cisco is now expected to gain clients that leverage customer relationship management (“CRM”) like Salesforce.com CRM which would have otherwise opted LinkedIn platform.

Per a recent report by Gartner, worldwide CRM software revenue in 2017 came in at $39.5 billion, forming the largest software market in the year. For 2018, CRM software market revenue is projected to grow at 16%, making it the fastest growing software market.

Cisco’s CRM offerings which include the likes of Cisco Unified CRM Connector are likely to be enhanced by Accompany’s CRM capabilities, placing it as a potential solution for businesses tapping on digitization.

Cisco carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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