Cisco Systems Inc. agreed to buy U.K. customer service software maker IMImobile Plc in a deal valued at about 543 million pounds ($721 million) as part of a plan to enhance tools to help companies keep track of and interacting with users. IMImobile shares rose the most on record.
The deal, Cisco’s largest U.K. acquisition in about three years, offers IMImobile investors 595 pence per share in cash, the company said in a statement on Monday. That’s a 48% premium to the company’s Friday closing price of 402.50 pence.
Cisco is seeking to push further into automation to improve the way its customers reach out to their end-users, enabling them to make their pitches and services more effective. And it wants to add those capabilities to its existing customer-relationship management offerings.
IMImobile shares jumped 47% to 593 pence in early London trading on Monday, their biggest ever gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. San Jose, California-based Cisco, down 7.5% this year, rose 27 cents to $44.38 in New York on Friday.
Cisco’s Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins is seeking to recast the company — whose hardware is the backbone of the internet — as a networking software and services provider. He’s responding to an industrywide shift that has seen more of the functions traditionally provided by in-house hardware migrate to outsourcing offered by remote data centers.
With IMImobile, it sees an opportunity to use artificial intelligence software to automate the outreach process more effectively than is currently possible. For example, it will help customers channel their offerings into the approach that they prefer, such as through text messages, social media or a voice call. Another instance is to provide a company representative with more contextual information about the customer they’re dealing with to make sure that they tailor that interaction in a way that the customer wants.
“A great customer relationship is built on consistently enjoyable interactions where every touchpoint on every channel is an opportunity for businesses to deliver rich, engaging and intuitive experiences,” Cisco Senior Vice President Jeetu Patel said in the release.
The acquisition adds to a growing list of deals as technology companies seek to strengthen their AI capabilities. A week ago, ServiceNow Inc. said will buy Canadian startup Element AI Inc., marking the software maker’s fourth AI-related acquisition this year.
(Updates headline and first paragraph with value of deal in U.S. dollars. A previous version of the story corrected the name of the acquired company.)
—Linus Chua (Bloomberg)