For the better part of 2016, the bulk of investor concern surrounding Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was its budding cloud-computing war with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). While both were in the cloud business before last year started, the race didn’t heat up in earnest until around this time last year, and MSFT stock has benefited as investors see the old tech goliath show some teeth.
Now, the initial dust is settling, both companies have formed a line and moved on to other fronts. As such, the key narrative for 2017 is going to be a slightly different one.
Rather than being pushed and pulled by Amazon-driven headlines, MSFT stock holders will want to keep an eye on the newly gelled offensive against salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM), and to a less degree, Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL).
Microsoft’s unexpected ally in that fight? Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE).
Salesforce.com Fires the First Volley
The battlefield is artificial intelligence.
It’s not a new venture by any means. Amazon has Alexa, and Microsoft built Cortana. But this isn’t the kind of tool that helps you look up phone numbers and set reminders. Salesforce built developed this one with a specific purpose: to help its customer-management customers get more sales out of their data.
It’s called Einstein, and appropriately so. DA Davidson analyst Jack Andrews explained after reviewing the Einstein platform earlier this month:
“CRM believes Einstein furthers its vision of achieving a single customer view, with specific use cases around predictive marketing, assisted service, guided sales, unified commerce, actionable analytics, etc.”
It’s the first practical, game-changing artificial intelligence tool out there that serves a viable commercial purpose.
To be fair, Watson from International Business Machines Corp.(NYSE:IBM) was the first and is still arguably the most meaningful of all artificial intelligence platforms out there, taking aim at cancer, and doing taxes. Cost-wise, it’s not a practical possibility for most business, but for those bigger companies that can pony it up, Einstein and Watson play nice together.
It’s a market most owners of MSFT stock think Microsoft should be in.
Well, it is.
The Microsoft-Adobe Partnership
Microsoft and Adobe just announced they’ve integrated Adobe Campaign and Microsoft Dynamics 365, allowing users of both to assemble data and make business decisions in an effective way that wasn’t possible when each platform was on its own.