Customer experience (CX) is an integral part of a brand today – and excellence in CX is a moving target (think how tools such as ChatGPT can revolutionise communications and CX). Organisations will find themselves aiming for personalised CX across channels of preference, with convenience, empathy, and speed at the core.
Here are the top 5 trends for the Experience Economy for 2023 according to Ecosystm analysts Audrey William, Melanie Disse, and Tim Sheedy.
- Organisations Will Focus on Building a “One CX Workforce”
- AI Will Lead Voice of Customer Programs
- Metadata Will Become Important
- The Conversational AI Market Will Mature
- Organisations Will Go Back to Focusing on Web Experience
Read on for more details.
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With organisations facing an infrastructure, application, and end-point sprawl, the attack surface continues to grow; as do the number of malicious attacks. Cyber breaches are also becoming exceedingly real for consumers, as they see breaches and leaks in brands and services they interact with regularly. 2023 will see CISOs take charge of their cyber environment – going beyond a checklist.
Here are the top 5 trends for Cybersecurity & Compliance for 2023 according to Ecosystm analysts Alan Hesketh, Alea Fairchild, Andrew Milroy, and Sash Mukherjee.
- An Escalating Cybercrime Flood Will Drive Proactive Protection
- Incident Detection and Response Will Be the Main Focus
- Organisations Will Choose Visibility Over More Cyber Tools
- Regulations Will Increase the Risk of Collecting and Storing Data
- Cyber Risk Will Include a Focus on Enterprise Operational Resilience
Read on for more details.
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Organisations will continue their quest to become digital and data-first in 2023. Business process automation will be a priority for the majority; but many will look at their data strategically to derive better business value.
As per Ecosystm’s Digital Digital Enterprise Study 2022, organisations will focus equally on Automation and Strategic AI in 2023.
Here are the top 5 trends for the Intelligent Enterprise in 2023 according to Ecosystm analysts, Alan Hesketh, Peter Carr, Sash Mukherjee and Tim Sheedy.
- Cloud Will Be Replaced by AI as the Right Transformation Goal
- Adoption of Data Platform Architecture Will See an Uptick
- Tech Teams Will Finally Focus on Internal Efficiency
- Data Retention/Deletion and Records Management Will Be Top Priority
- AI Will Replace Entire Human Jobs
Read on for more details.
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In 2023, organisations will continue to reinvent themselves to remain relevant to their customers, engage their employees and be efficient and profitable.
As per Ecosystm’s Digital Enterprise Study 2022, organisations will increase spend on digital workplace technologies, enterprise software upgrades, mobile applications, infrastructure and data centres, and hybrid cloud management.
Here are the top 5 trends for the Distributed Enterprise in 2023 according to Ecosystm analysts, Alea Fairchild, Darian Bird, Peter Carr, and Tim Sheedy.
- Deskless Workers Will Become Modern Professionals
- Need for Cost Efficiency Will Stimulate the Use of Waste Metrics in Public Cloud
- The Climate & Energy Crisis Will Change the Cloud Equation
- Industry Cloud Will Further Accelerate Business Innovation
- The SASE Piece Will Fall in Place
Read on for more details.
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Running a contact centre has been extremely challenging in 2020. Contact centres have had to ensure business continuity, keep the focus on customer experience, and manage and motivate a largely remote workforce. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, not only have contact centres seen high inbound activity, but they have also had to manage agents who are dispersed and working remotely. 2020 has seen many contact centres starting, accelerating or re-focusing their digital transformation initiatives (Figure 1).
2021 will see contact centres focusing on transformation, not only to survive but also because their organisations and clients will expect more process efficiency and better customer experience. Ecosystm Advisors Audrey William and Ravi Bhogaraju present the top 5 Ecosystm predictions for Contact Centres Trends in 2021.
This is a summary of our predictions on the top 5 Contact Centre Trends for 2021 – the full report (including the implications) is available to download for free on the Ecosystm platform here.
The Top 5 Contact Centre Trends for 2021
- Remote Working Will Force Contact Centres to Re-evaluate Security Measures
Security has always been a concern for contact centre leaders. Improper data use by agents and agents breaching confidentiality are the biggest security challenges for contact centres. This has been further heightened, especially the fear of agents purposely breaching confidentiality while working from home.
Contact centres are still trying to figure out the best security measures when managing customer data, especially in the work-from-home environment. There is greater scrutiny over security and compliance measures – what agents view, how agents access the data, when agents log in and out of the system. Outsourcing providers will also have to guarantee high levels of security – a trusted relationship and defining the best practices on working from home will not be sufficient.
Many contact centres will trial different methods – from installing video surveillance cameras, desktop monitoring tools and access controls. Others will test technologies that can mask the information captured through mobile devices. This presents immense opportunities for vendors, as contact centres will rely heavily on technology to re-invent their security practices.
- Contact Centres will Invest in Conversational AI – Chatbots will No Longer be Enough
Many enterprises have rushed into deploying chatbots with expectations that these engines can solve the problem of high call volumes. The outcomes have often been poor, leaving customers frustrated and opting to interact with a live agent instead. Implementing a basic chatbot does not fully solve the problem and will force companies back to the drawing board.
Conversational AI offers a different experience by designing multiple forms of dialogues and conversations. It requires conversational design and the algorithms go through rigour from the start. The aim should be to make the channel irresistible – one that customers have confidence in, and that can reduce the need to email or call an agent. Successful uses cases have shown that conversational AI can reduce calls and repetitive queries by 70-90%. Ecosystm research finds that contact centres are ramping up their self-service capabilities and their adoption of AI and machine learning.
- Offshore Centres will Re-invent Themselves and Make a Comeback
2020 has seen contact centres in offshore locations struggle to offer services to global clients. Many of these operators have been plagued by poor internet connectivity at agents’ homes, and unfavourable home working environments. These outsourcing locations remain vital however, for multiple reasons – for example the range of services offered, agent specialisation, costs or diversity in agent profile.
Contact centre outsourcing providers will make a comeback in 2021 and we can expect new models to appear. Many providers across the globe have been running successful work-from-home only operations for years – other outsourcing providers will learn from these best practices. Organisations will find that bringing jobs back to high-cost locations will incur more costs. A full onshore model may not be the right model for business continuity, and organisations will prefer to have back-up locations to ensure continuity of services if another pandemic or catastrophe happens. Organisations will want to see the outsourcing providers offer them a choice of location – they will prefer some services to be delivered from offshore locations and others to remain onshore.
- Digital and Mobile will be the Cornerstone of Deeper Customer Engagement
COVID-19 has changed how customers want to be served, and organisations have had to re-evaluate how they use their channels – e.g. email, web, chat and voice. Customer profiles and expectations have changed over the year and they are more digital savvy and are more likely to interact with brands through digital and mobile apps. They will expect a single point of interaction – for their enquiries and to complete their transactions. For instance, they will expect to chat while filling up shopping carts. Introducing chat capabilities within mobile apps is a good way to impress customers – this can be an effective way to push promotions and upsell. Capabilities such as the ability to directly place a call from a website will make the customer experience exceptional. Customers will expect to move between channels easily when interacting with a brand.
- Workplace Collaboration Will be Fully Integrated into Contact Centres
Contact centres will reassess their business and talent models. The focus on employees will be in two major areas:
- Productivity. The contact centre floor dynamics have changed in how agents are spread out across outsourcing locations and in-house contact centres. Agents are no longer located in the same room or floor and do not have access to their usual way of work – continual training, digital signage that provides guidance and demonstrates KPIs, conversations with supervisors, managers, and team members for guidance or assistance, easy access to back-office functions and so on. This can impact their productivity.
- Engagement. Contact centre staff often work in high-stress environments -chasing sales targets and deadlines, handling complaints – and it is important for managers and supervisors to be able to engage and motivate them constantly. Remote working has further exacerbated the stress for those agents who do not have a conducive working environment at home.
Contact centres will increasingly look to workplace collaboration platforms and tools to improve employee productivity and experience.
The Retail industry has had to do a sharp re-think of its digital roadmap and transformation journey – Ecosystm research shows that about 75% of retail organisations had to start, accelerate, or re-focus their digital transformation initiatives. However, that will not be enough as organisations move beyond survival to recovery – and future successes. While retailers will focus on the shift in customer expectations, a mere focus on customer experience will not be enough in 2021. Ecosystm Principal Advisors, Alan Hesketh and Alea Fairchild present the top 5 Ecosystm predictions for Retail & eCommerce in 2021.
This is a summary of the predictions, the full report (including the implications) is available to download for free on the Ecosystm platform here.
The Top 5 Retail & eCommerce Trends for 2021
- There Will Only be Omnichannel Retailers
The value of an omnichannel offer in Retail has become much clearer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retailers that do not have the ability to deliver using the channel customers prefer will find it hard to compete. As the physical channel becomes less important new revenue opportunities will open up for businesses operating in adjacent market sectors – companies such as food and grocery wholesalers will increasingly sell direct to consumers, leveraging their existing online and distribution capabilities.
Most customers transact on mobile device – either a mobile phone or tablet. New capabilities will remove some of the barriers to using these mobile devices. For one, technologies such as Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will provide a better customer experience on mobile platforms than existing websites, while delivering a user experience at par or better than mobile apps. Also, as retailers become AI-enabled, machine learning engines will provide purchase recommendations through smartwatches or in-home, voice-enabled, smart devices.
- COVID-19 Will Continue to be an Influence Forcing Radical Shifts
In driving the economic recovery in 2021, we will see ‘glocal’ consumption – emphasis on local retailers and global players taking local actions to win the hearts and minds of local consumers. There will be significant actions within local communities to drive consumers to support local retailers. Location-based services (LBS) will be used extensively as consumers on the high street carry more LBS-enabled devices than ever before. Bluetooth beacon technology and proximity marketing will drive these efforts. Consumers will have to opt-in for this to work, so privacy and relationship management are also important to consider.
But people still want to “physically” browse, and design aesthetics of a store are still part of the attraction. In the next 18 months, the concept of virtual stores that are digital twins will take off, particularly in the holiday and Spring clearance sales. Innovators like Matterport can help local retailers gain a more global audience with a digital twin with a limited technological investment. At a minimum, Shopify or other intermediaries will be necessary for a digital shop window.
- The Industry will See Artificial Intelligence in Everything
AI will increase its impact on Retail with an uptake in two key areas.
- Customer interactions. Retail AI will use customer data to deliver much richer and targeted experiences. This may include the ability to get to a ‘segment of one’. Tools will include chatbots that are more functional and support for voice-based commerce using mobile and in-home edge devices. Also, in-store recognition of customers will become easier through enhanced device or facial recognition. Markets where privacy is less respected will lead in this area – other markets will also innovate to achieve the same outcomes without compromising privacy but will lag in their delivery. This mismatch of capability may allow early adopters to enter other geographic markets with competitive offers while meeting the privacy requirements of these markets.
- Supply chain and pricing capabilities. AI-based machine learning engines using both internal and increased sources of external data will replace traditional math-based forecasting and replenishment models. These engines will enable the identification of unexpected and unusual demand influencing factors, particularly from new sources of external data. Modelling of price elasticity using machine learning will be able to handle more complex models. Retailers using this capability will be in a better position to optimise their customer offers based on their pricing strategies. Supply chains will be re-engineered so products with high demand volatility are manufactured close to markets, and the procurement of products with stable demands will be cost-based.
- Distribution Woes Will Continue
Third party delivery platforms such as Wish and RoseGal are recruiting additional international non-Asian suppliers to expand their portfolios. Amazon and AliExpress are leaders here, but there are many niche eCommerce platforms taking up the slack due to the uneven distribution patterns from the ongoing economic situation. Expect to see a number of new entrants taking up niche spaces in the second half of 2021, sponsored by major retail product brands, to give Amazon a run for their money on a more local basis.
As the USPS continues to be under strain, delivery companies like FedEx in the US who partner with the USPS are already suffering from the USPS’s operational slowdown, in both their customer reputation and delivery speed. In 2021, COVID-19 – and workers’ unions – will continue to impact distribution activities. Increased spending in warehouse automation and new retail footprints such as dark stores will be seen to make up for worker shortfalls.
- China’s Retail Models Will Expand into Other Markets
China’s online businesses operate in a large domestic market that is comparatively free of international competitors. Given the scale of the domestic market, these online companies have been able to grow to become substantial businesses using advanced technologies. All the Chinese tech giants – among them Alibaba, ByteDance, DiDi Chuxing, and Tencent – are expanding internationally.
China’s rapidly recovering economy puts those businesses in a strong position to fund a competitive expansion into international markets using their domestic base, particularly with their Government’s promotion of the country’s tech sector. It is harder to impose restrictions on software-based businesses, unlike the approach that we have witnessed the US Government take for hardware companies such as Huawei – placing constraints on mobile phone components and operating systems.
These tech giants also have significant experience in a Big Data environment that provides little privacy protection, as well as leading-edge AI capabilities. While they will not be able to operate with the same freedom in global markets, and there will be other large challenges in translating Chinese experience to other markets – these tech players will be able to compete very effectively with incumbent global companies. Chinese companies also continue to raise capital from US stock exchanges with The Economist reporting Chinese listings have raised close to USD 17 billion since January 2020.
As we move into a new decade, the Telecommunications industry is ripe for disruption, as it gets reshaped by bountiful bandwidth and software enabled flexibility. Several countries have spent the last decade building fibre access networks. 5G is expected to lower latency and provide greater flexibility. As virtualisation, AI and automation combine to make networks even more cost effective it will broaden use cases to include widespread adoption of IoT.
The Top 5 Telecommunications and Mobility Trends for 2020
Below are the top 5 Telecommunications and Mobility Trends for 2020. It is based on the latest data from the global Ecosystm Mobility Study and is based on qualitative research by Liam Gunson, Director, Product and Solutions at Ecosystm.
50 Shades of 5G
In 2020, 5G will be a major step change in what a mobile network can do – in terms of capacity, efficiency, stability, and latency. The amount of money and investment associated with it will also keep it in the spotlight. The year will see 5G move beyond trials to actual commercial rollouts – but that will also mean more regulations and a competitive landscape. There will be multiple deployment models:
- In fixed vs mobile markets, the most obvious choice will be to take a share of the home broadband space first
- Markets with strong growth in data usage and higher ARPUs will evolve 4G to provide higher bandwidth while looking to 5G for their economic benefits in efficiently managing spectrum
- In other areas, operators will be forced to explore spectrum or infrastructure sharing to spread costs across lower ARPUs or align with regulators’ desire to limit licenses. This is likely to be more common in emerging markets and low-density areas.
Enterprise Mobility Will Witness a Renaissance
Enterprise mobility will be back on IT teams’ agenda after having taken a backseat for a few years. Ecosystm research shows that over 72% of organisations have a Mobile First strategy. This is set to accelerate for a number of reasons:
- Companies are increasingly adopting agile or new ways of working to speed up innovation and delivery – and this includes working in new teams and activity-based working
- As more millennials and the Gen Z enter the workforce, there will be a steady rise of the ‘gig economy’ and a high percentage of contract, part-time and freelance workers
- As organisations become more agile and the workforce increasingly mobile there will be a bigger drive towards space optimisation, seeing a higher adoption of shared offices and co-working spaces
The Future of the LAN is Cloudy
The next few years will see a re-think of the traditional LAN/WAN set-up, as user needs change with Digital Transformation (DX) initiatives, and new technologies such as GPON, 5G, Wifi 6, WiGig, and software-defined networking bring new capabilities and alter costs. Enterprise network will change in the following ways:
- Wireless connectivity will move beyond BYOD and guest access and become the primary connection type – the connection points will be sensors and access points, and not PCs
- AI, virtualisation and software-defined networking will bring more flexibility as they lessen the need for specialised hardware, centralise control, and speed up configuration changes
- Enterprises will stop thinking of their network as a physical space and start seeing it as a set of capabilities. Equipment will be increasingly centralised in data centres (possibly on the Edge) to allow workers to work from virtually anywhere.
Intelligence at the Edge – from Connected Things to Conscious Things
We have moved past step 1 of IoT, where the focus was on making sensors and chipsets cheap enough to be incorporated in millions of different devices, as well as a to find cost-effective ways to handle the data requirements. 2020 will see IoT move to step 2 – from sensing to responding. AI will become easier to develop and use, while edge compute, high-bandwidth, and low latency networks will make it possible to be embedded into an expanding number of use cases where devices and processes need to make real-time adjustments.
This will become most obvious as we see an increased use of cameras as sensors. With their ability to capture details, they are the most effective sensors we can have. The challenge has been that high definition video is incredibly data heavy, creating issues when trying to transport and analyse it. Edge compute will help to bring the analytics closer to the source lowering the transport costs, while also lowering latency and increasing security.
Expansion Drives Consolidation
Telecommunications operators have been evolving for a while now using measures such as acquiring new companies, establishing disruptive business units and so on. In 2020, these operators will focus on transforming the core – remove unnecessary costs, improve customer experience, capture new opportunities – and on building telecom networks with scalability, flexibility, efficiency and agility.
As providers become more flexible, they will not only be easier to integrate with, but will also be able to manage more products and niche requirements. Traditionally 80-90% of their revenues have come from consumers and Telecommunications providers own these relationships. Now they will have to start working on their B2B relationships.
Ultimately the network game will be one of scale, and this will force operators to consolidate to survive. Nokia Bell Labs expects global operators to fall from 10 to 5 between 2020 and 2025, and local operators to fall from 800 to 100 – this looks completely plausible at the moment.
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Financial institutions are being challenged by and collaborating with Fintech organisations in equal measures. As their focus on customers increase, they will collaborate and partner with these disruptors. Fintech is also getting attention from governments in both emerging and mature countries as a means to achieve their financial inclusion and digital economy goals. Fintech investments will continue to surge through 2020 across the solution areas.
The Top 5 Fintech Trends For 2020
The Top 5 Fintech Trends are based on the latest data from the global Ecosystm AI and Cybersecurity studies and is also based on qualitative research by Ecosystm CEO Amit Gupta and Principal Advisor Paul Gestro.
One for All and All for One
Fintech will have a much greater impact than we realise, and we will continue to see it drive the induction of the unbanked into the mainstream economy. The growth in mobile phone penetration, however, continues to grow at a faster pace than banking accessibility across emerging economies. We will continue to see Fintech play a significant role in driving greater inclusion, especially to bring in the underserved in the emerging economies and reducing the gender gap when it comes to adoption of financial services – creating greater inclusion overall.
The democratisation and accessibility of financial services will also result in far greater uptake of the sharing economy and we will continue to see non-traditional companies enter the payments and financial services markets. Fintechs that have environmental and social impact, beyond financial impact, will also find it easier to secure funds from Impact Investors.
The Year of the Banks
2020 is the year banks will need to embrace Fintech – fully. They know full well that customers are at the centre of their entire operation – and Fintech services can and will provide them with the solutions they need. They have been skeptical about adopting Fintech but as they begin their transformation journeys and face increasingly stringent regulations, they might no longer have the option of ignoring Fintechs.
Banks are already adopting, evaluating and developing strategies for AI, RPA, and Cybersecurity adoption – but they will feel the need for more innovation and speed in 2020.
Asia Becomes Middle Earth
Asia has fast become the centre for both innovation and investment. Asia’s fast pace of urbanisation and the increasing prosperity of the middle class is attracting investments. Venture capital-backed Fintech companies raised more than USD 40B in 2018 – with the bulk coming out of China. Investments in Asia is expected to grow, and will benefit later stage Fintech startups.
These investments, a lack of strict policies (yet!) and the large number of unbanked and underbanked are also fuelling innovation in Asia. Several large financial institutions in Asia have already made public announcements of the Fintech investments and this will cause a ripple effect.
Nothing Artificial About AI
AI sits at the heart of most Fintech solutions. And AI has slowly made its way in decision-making and process automation. The first step to AI is automation and robotic process automation (RPA) will transform customer experience and will allow integration of legacy systems in financial institutions. As IoT and Blockchain mature they will be increasingly integrated within AI solutions.
Another area which will see AI adoption in financial institutions is Cybersecurity – machine learning can predict the patterns of criminals (or rogue/irresponsible employees) to stop events before they start. Fintech solutions such as Regtech and Suptech has a definite play in this space.
Regtech Will Take Centre Stage
In 2020, Regtech will take the centre stage as the emerging Fintech solution. Together with AI, a better ability to use data and predict trends, Regtech will be used to fight financial crime and reduce costly compliance-related mistakes.
The old way of just employing more people to run the compliance tasks is not sustainable. routine tasks such as KYC, AML and compliance verification are ripe for automation. Moreover, Regtech ROI is relatively easier to set and measure.
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As the ‘Experience Economy’ becomes a reality, organisations will look beyond improving customer experience (CX) to enhancing employee experience (EX). It is estimated that people spend a third of their life at their workplaces. This realisation will drive organisations to focus on EX over priorities such as growing revenue or reducing costs. Retaining employees is important in today’s war for talent – and organisations have started appointing Chief Experience Officers. Ultimately, workplace technology should drive employee productivity – and there is a proven link between happy and productive employees.
The Top 5 Workplace Of The Future Trends For 2020
The Top 5 Workplace of the Future trends are drawn from the findings of the global Ecosystm CX Study and are also based on qualitative research by Ecosystm Principal Advisors, Tim Sheedy and Audrey William.
Employee Experience as a Business Focus Will Drive Faster Adoption of Consumer Collaboration Tools
Organisations in mature economies already have employee experience (EX) and CX as their top business priorities. This comes with an understanding that offering a great customer and employee experience will lead to revenue growth, profit growth and lower costs.
For communication and collaboration solutions, if the experience is not right, employees will move on to the next best app for the right experience. The competition between the vendors across voice, video and collaboration is heightening. It may sound simple but that is where the innovation needs to happen in the industry. If employees do not like what IT has provided for them, they will download the application of their choice for work. This will be a huge challenge especially in industries that are heavily regulated such as Financial Services and Healthcare.
HR KPIs Will Drive IT Teams to Invest in Workplace Analytics
HR teams are ultimately responsible for driving improved EX. And a happy employee is a productive employee – so an employee’s environment (managed by the Operations or Facilities team) and their technology (managed by the IT team) will have the biggest impact on driving employee satisfaction. To drive these outcomes, we will see these three teams work closer than they ever have – and not just on a project basis, but as a permanent arrangement.
Investments in Workplace Analytics will increase, and there will be more collaboration between IT, HR and Facilities Management to drive best practices for employees. Right now, there is very little collaboration between the three departments in driving better workplace practices. Workplace Analytics will help solve problems related to poor office practices around email overload, long work hours, absenteeism, usage of rooms and other facilities, employee discontent, as well as understand the overall trends on communications and collaboration solutions usage.
5G Services will Push Organisations to Rethink their Network
Today 5G is not available in many countries – and where it is available coverage is generally spotty. But this will change in 2020 as more operators launch or expand their 5G coverage. The unique capabilities of 5G to offer software-defined networks (SDNs) – designed specifically for organisations’ needs – will help businesses rethink the way they operate. They can stop thinking of their network as a physical place and start thinking of it as a set of capabilities and this takes work beyond designated physical addresses. Retailers will be able to offer complete retail environments from wherever they choose. Banks will be able to offer complete in-branch services from anywhere. Employees will be able to get access to all sorts of data and systems regardless of location. 5G is about much more than a faster network – the potential to transform enterprise networks will see a huge rethink of the network and the way IT teams provide technology services to their employees.
Organisations Will Wake Up to the Need for the Right Knowledge Management Solution
IT has been guilty of dictating the knowledge management (KM) requirements and platforms to the business. Many customer teams are using tools that are inherently wrong for the job. Management is using tools that do not support their needs, and information workers are given generic platforms when they have specific needs. 2020 will see a fragmentation of the KM market as businesses start to buy based on customer and employee needs – not based on what the IT team dictates.
2020 Will See a Rise in CPaaS Adoption
Cloud-based platforms that enable developers to add real-time communications features within the workflow of their own business applications will be the next big area of innovation in the unified communications space. Through the use of APIs, developers can embed communication capabilities into their existing business applications, without extra hardware or software costs. Developers can embed it directly into the cloud platform so the time to market is fast. Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) will see greater adoption as more organisations look to build code and apply agile and DevOps methodologies.
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