Tag: Europe

Metaverse eCommerce: The Next Logical Step in the Evolution of Immersive eCommerce

Metaverse is here to stay, and it’s going to play a significant future role in how we experience brands virtually. Industry giants are investing big in this space, and it is creating new opportunities for service providers to build feature-packed solutions for their customers entering the Meta world. Read on to learn about the potential and pitfalls of Metaverse eCommerce and why gaining a first-mover advantage is critical.

Digital commerce owes its maturity to the ever-evolving technology ecosystem – starting with the first online dial-up transaction on a modified television to a plethora of innovations over the past decade like mobile commerce, voice search, and social commerce. Emerging concepts such as gaming commerce and recommerce or reverse commerce are further defining the ecosystem.

Digital commerce is also witnessing an era of hyper-personalization powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Everest Group research on the Top 15 Start-ups Redefining Shoppable Experiences, 70% of the start-ups in the ecosystem are leveraging AI to offer enhanced solutions.

Enterprises are offering immersive buying experiences through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR). To continue progressing on this trajectory, technological alignment is inevitable for a futuristic eCommerce strategy, and the next logical step for attaining this is Metaverse.

Defining metaverse and its significance in eCommerce

metaverse

Exhibit 1: Definition of Metaverse

In simple terms, Metaverse is an extension of technologies such as AR, VR, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and social commerce coming together to form a virtual world, where customers can shop, play games, and socialize with friends.

Popularized by video games and fiction novels, the idea of Meta has been around since the early 90s, but recently, the industry has become extremely bullish on Metaverse primarily due to two major contributors. Firstly, technologies backing the concept of Meta (blockchain, crypto, and affordable VR) have attained significant headway in the past decade. Secondly, the idea has gained mainstream momentum because industry giants such as Facebook (Meta), Google, and Microsoft are pouring huge investments into Meta-platforms. Experience management leader, Adobe, has also put its best foot forward towards the Meta world by offering tools specific to 3D content creation, experience delivery, asset management, and commerce.

The Meta wave began in the early 2000s with games like Second Life and World of Warcraft, which were based on centralized economies where the value of owned assets was limited to those games. Aiming to overcome this deficiency, Decentraland came into existence in 2020. This platform offered a decentralized economy, where along with building virtual worlds, trading assets, and hosting events, users could transfer purchases to other Meta platforms like The Sandbox. Although the latest version of Meta provides numerous opportunities for users, we are still far away from creating an Omniverse like the movie “Ready Player One.”

Despite the technology being in its infancy, Metaverse holds significant potential in the digital commerce space. In the current 2D eCommerce model, information is consumed rather than experienced, restricting brands from creating physical connections with users.

Metaverse can solve this problem to a very large extent. In Meta-commerce, shoppers can truly experience a company’s culture, design, and branding elements. This will create huge brand differentiation beyond what is currently limited to logos and banners.

Although the technology backing Metaverse is still at a nascent stage, it holds immense potential to build an immersive commerce platform where products will come alive and personalized customer engagement will create brand loyalists.

Brands advocating metaverse are already pioneering virtual commerce

Envisioning the macro future implications of a single worldwide Metaverse, forward-looking brands have already started creating virtual commerce experiences at the company level. Here are some examples:

  • DRESSX – Designers and fashion enthusiasts can enter their Metaverse and create clothes from scratch. Users can try clothes on through their avatars and convert their fashion non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into actual garments
  • Gucci Garden Metaverse and Louis The Game – Gucci and Louis Vuitton have each launched their own NFTs where everyone has the freedom to create and modify their apparel
  • Charlotte Tilbury Virtual Beauty Gifting Wonderland Users can connect with make-up artists in virtual rooms to discuss their skincare concerns and also invite friends to help them find the right product through an integrated video feature in the same session

Potential challenges in realizing metaverse

Metaversechart

Exhibit 2: Challenges pertaining to Metaverse implementation

To make Metaverse a reality, several challenges need to be overcome. These include:

  • Consistent user experience and interoperability – A singular global decentralized Metaverse with shared data, computation, and bandwidth can only be achieved with collaboration between several global parties. Unless features are aligned and intellectual property is shared, we’ll never get a true Metaverse
  • Dearth of skilled talent – Talent for developing design tools and headless systems for businesses to prepare their stores for different media and virtual formats is in high demand and short supply
  • Cybersecurity and privacy – Metaverse users could experience incidents related to fake NFTs and malicious smart contracts that access personal data and crypto-wallets. Since personalized virtual experiences will create an endless need for countless customer data points, industry giants will likely prioritize competitive advantage over user data privacy

 Along with these obstacles, challenges related to hardware, use-case identification, slow adoption, lack of capital, a fragmented tech landscape, unpredictable Return on Investment (ROI), and legal implications will surely make it difficult to turn the virtual world into a reality.

But on the brighter side, the foundational infrastructure is already in place in the form of a sophisticated global blockchain network, ergonomic VR design, scalable AI, and last-mile internet connectivity in most parts of the world. Therefore, Meta is no longer a far-fetched dream. And with most industry giants strategically investing in the concept, the challenges associated with it will get mitigated very soon.

Opportunities for eCommerce service providers in this meta wave

This new world is pushing IT service providers, consulting firms, and design agencies towards attaining Metaverse eCommerce capabilities. These industry players will be able to add several new digital service offerings through Metaverse. A few of these services include:

  • Metaverse consulting – With Pwc buying land in The Sandbox, it is evident that consulting firms will play a pivotal role in the world of Meta. Enterprises entering Metaverse will need significant hand-holding and a relevant knowledge base about the concept to formulate their Meta-business strategy. Consulting firms can leverage their expertise to advise and direct clients who wish to embrace Meta with its full range of challenges
  • Metaverse applications – Exclusive applications will be required for users to interact with the Meta world for virtual shopping. IT providers will need to build development expertise in the AR/VR technology stack to deliver these capabilities
  • Design and NFT – Design agencies will be essential for creating 3D models of virtual artifacts in the Meta world. Along with that, designers also create NFTs that play an extremely vital role in the Meta economy. Therefore, Metaverse will bring a plethora of lucrative business opportunities for design agencies around the world
  • NFT marketplaces – With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, from digital paintings to Twitter hashtags, NFTs are being bought and sold everywhere. Since sellers will have the power to tokenize everything in Metaverse, a marketplace that supports NFT transactions through blockchain will be needed. Because of this, demand for IT service providers specializing in the NFT marketplace and blockchain development technology will rapidly increase

An exciting future

Brands are already implementing core technologies essential for Meta in silos. Soon, we will witness their integration to create an alternate world full of endless possibilities.

Metaverse is here to stay, and it will bring a multitude of opportunities for service providers to build feature-packed solutions for their customers entering the Meta world. Enterprises need to seize the first-mover advantage now by swiftly evaluating the future impact of Metaverse on their businesses.

Discover more about how organizations are increasingly finding ways to incorporate elements of the metaverse in our blogs: Enterprise Metaverse: Myriad Possibilities or Problems for the Hybrid Workplace? and Metaverse: Opportunities and Key Success Factors for Technology Services Providers.

To further discuss Metaverse eCommerce opportunities, contact us.

How the Russia-Ukraine Crisis Can Impact Customer Experience Management Services and Alternative Locations to Consider for CXM Outsourcing | Blog

With Eastern Europe serving as a major hub for Customer Experience Management (CXM), the Russia-Ukraine crisis poses a serious threat to service delivery. Now is the time for enterprises with large presences in this region to diversify delivery locations and mitigate risks.

Read on for our expert analysis on the state of CXM outsourcing here, the potential disruptions, and alternative countries to consider for multilingual customer service and tech support to ensure continued CXM services.      

Just as the world was looking to emerge from the global pandemic that caused a seismic shift in work and collaboration models, another highly disruptive crisis looms on the horizon. The recent geopolitical developments in Ukraine and Russia have caused the whole world to take notice, and with new sanctions kicking in every day, many are already preparing for adverse scenarios.

Given that this rift involves nuclear heavyweights in Russia and the NATO countries, the consequences could be far-reaching for the entire world. Consequently, these tense developments have created a lot of uncertainty and consternation for companies having a presence in the affected region.

Eastern Europe, which forms the immediate vicinity of Ukraine, is a major hub for delivering a plethora of customer experience management services for end-users both within and outside this region. Let’s take a look at the potential impacts to CXM outsourcing and alternative locations for CXM services.

Eastern European region CXM snapshot

As a strategic location for CXM services, eastern Europe offers strong multilingual capabilities, relatively inexpensive skilled talent, and cultural similarities and a minor time difference to western Europe. Leading global enterprises and Europe-focused players have a significant footprint in this region, putting them at risk in the current situation. The heatmap below illustrates the country-wise vulnerability index based on the number of delivery centers and corresponding CX agents present in each of them.

Screenshot 2022 03 23 084703

Potential CXM services disruptions and alternate solutions

Due to its skilled and relatively inexpensive IT talent pool, Eastern Europe is highly leveraged for its multilingual support for not only the regional languages such as Russian, Czech, Serbian, etc. but also for many of the major west European languages such as German, French, English, Spanish, and Italian. Poland and Romania also are sizeable talent sources for technical support.

Major cities in Ukraine such as Kyiv and Dnipro have been the most severely impacted by the armed conflict with Russia, and enterprises must accelerate Business Continuity Planning (BCP) measures to relocate affected CXM agents to safer parts of the country or outside of Ukraine to provide immediate relief.

If the conflict escalates beyond the borders of Ukraine in the coming weeks, major cities in Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria – which have the highest concentration of CXM delivery centers – could also be directly impacted.

We also envision a potential threat of cybersecurity breaches in Ukraine, inevitably causing collateral damage to its neighboring countries as well. While no one can foresee how the situation will unfold or its duration, enterprise clients must stay well informed and start devising backup scenarios and activate disaster recovery plans if needed. Although we believe the disruption will be temporary, a long-protracted war can’t be ruled out.

Alternative locations for CXM support services

Considering the uncertainty and volatility, let’s look at some viable alternate locations to help enterprises mitigate their emerging risks:

  • Multilingual customer support – Enterprises should consider new offshore and onshore locations to support major European languages for CXM outsourcing, as illustrated below:
    table
  • Tech support – The best strategy for enterprises is keeping their complex tech-related support in-house through onshore locations. However, for simpler queries, alternative nearshore locations such as South Africa and Egypt offer similar advantages that Eastern European locations can provide at lower price points without any dip in the talent pool. Even offshore locations such as India and the Philippines are suitable alternatives to consider as long-term tech support outsourcing locations

Mitigate risks

The last two years have taught enterprises the glaring importance of risk mitigation as a strategic priority to ensure service continuity, and this year seems to be behaving no differently. Customer experience has established itself as a true differentiator for enterprises of all sizes and shapes in every industry. As such, ensuring that customer support services run unhindered is vital for enterprises to achieve their business outcomes.

Now, more than ever, diversification of service delivery locations will become increasingly relevant to counteract the rising instability that the current geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine as well as similar such events could bring in the future.

While we hope that this devastating humanitarian crisis comes to an end as soon as possible, enterprises that closely re-examine their service delivery footprints and proactively mitigate their risks will be better positioned to absorb any shockwaves that could potentially arise in the coming months.

With the continuing escalating events, it is important to stay informed on the latest developments in this region. Contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] to discuss your situation and solutions.

Discover more about the impacts to the service delivery ecosystem in our LinkedIn Live event, How to Manage the Ukraine-Russia Impact on Service Delivery.

You can also keep up on the impact of service delivery from Ukraine and the CEE region in our  resource center where you’ll find our consolidated coverage.

How are European Organisations Riding the Global Services Headwinds? | Webinar

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR

How are European Organisations Riding the Global Services Headwinds?

Access the on-demand webinar, which was delivered live on March 22, 2022.

Steeply climbing salaries and outsourcing rates, dwindling talent pools, and increasing customer expectations of service are causing organisations across Europe to feel the heat and break budgets when it comes to global services. Because these challenges will likely persist throughout the year, European organisations need to adjust and refresh their strategies.

Watch this on-demand webinar to discover how leading European organisations are solving global services challenges by creating solutions and adopting best practices, including:

  • Using impact sourcing to reach untapped and affordable talent pools in other geographies
  • Adjusting operating models for a higher emphasis on automation and technology to increase the productivity of existing employees
  • Price Benchmarking to obtain real-time and reliable data on pricing and performance metrics
  • Exploring alternate locations for agility

Our experts address:

  • The key global services challenges and best practices to solve these challenges for European organisations as they come out of the pandemic
  • The areas enterprises should be looking for talent

Who should attend?

  • CIOs
  • CTOs
  • CDOs
  • IT and BPO leaders
  • Sourcing leaders
  • Strategy leaders
  • GBS leaders
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Real Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in Your Supply Chain: Advancing Gender DEIB with Impact Sourcing for the Workforce of Tomorrow | Blog

Organizations that have a diversified workforce and prioritize providing opportunities to all will ultimately contribute to building a stable global economy. While gender equity and inclusion have improved over the last decades, many challenges remain, including discrimination/bias, underrepresentation in leadership levels, and lack of access to education and employment opportunities. Impact sourcing is a business imperative that will not only help companies reach new talent pools but also offer opportunities to marginalized communities and populations, especially women.

Empowering women through impact sourcing

Impact sourcing is a business practice in which companies intentionally prioritize service providers that hire and provide career development opportunities to people who otherwise have limited prospects for employment.

Companies are implementing impact sourcing models to elevate excluded groups and improve gender equality through opportunities such as training and employment in various regions, especially where educational and career opportunities are not readily available to all. By including impact sourcing initiatives, organizations can begin to embed gender-responsive and ethical procurement practices into their business models, and, ultimately, affect social-economic improvements, such as decreased poverty and increased employment rates.

A response by the approximately US$215 billion1 global services industry to address social exclusion, impact sourcing is not a new concept but can make a significant impact. Considering that third-party services is one of the largest corporate sourcing/procurement spend categories, with companies often spending 5% of revenue on services partners, the practice has the potential to not just open up new talent pools, but also provide equal opportunities.

The gender gap in global services

According to S&P Global data, the percentage of women in the total workforce in developed and emerging markets has averaged around 35% over the past five years and has been exacerbated by the global pandemic. The proportion of women decreases progressively up the corporate ladder. However, in developed markets, the percentage of women in senior management is even lower than the number of women within boards of directors.

By investing in impact sourcing, companies can combat unequal treatment of women in the workforce with specific impact sourcing strategy goals. For instance, they can focus on closing the gender gap at the base of the issue rather than reporting on diversity indicators at the top, such as the number of women on boards or the percentage of women’s ownership. This is part of a growing movement to broaden supplier diversity to gender-responsive procurement, spearheaded by UN Women[1].

How impact sourcing aligns with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Impact sourcing is one of the most credible and powerful ways to accomplish some of the 17 UN SDGs. As a result, it bolsters gender-responsive procurement, which is defined as the selection of services, goods, and civil works that consider their impact on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Impact sourcing naturally aligns with UN SDGs in the following ways:

Picture1 1 Goal 1 – No Poverty: Impact sourcing helps provide employment opportunities to marginalized groups, contributing to reduced income distribution gaps and eradicating poverty
Picture2 Goal 4 – Quality Education: The innovation in impact sourcing includes training, accommodation, recognition of unique talents, and career counseling for youth who may not have access to higher education
Picture3 Goal 5 – Gender Equality: Putting women at the center of economies will fundamentally drive more sustainable outcomes since individuals who identify as women are increasingly becoming part of the core workforce. Organizations can become more inclusive towards women by having a rigorous impact sourcing strategy
Picture4 Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: Employment is at the core of impact sourcing, helping organizations offer good jobs to marginalized individuals
Picture5 Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities: Growing inequality is one of the biggest roadblocks in achieving social progress and global stability. Impact sourcing can contribute towards inclusion and equal opportunities within and among countries

With lower attrition rates and higher corresponding levels of employee engagement, which results in lower costs and higher productivity over time, impact sourcing also provides a diversified talent pool to companies.

Impact sourcing encourages companies to help underserved populations, like women, move out of poverty and transform their lives and provide for their families. Corporations can engage in inclusive hiring practices that promote equal opportunity, diversity, skill development, and equal treatment for women. A responsible hiring mechanism by organizations can effectively contribute towards increasing employment opportunities and career development for this socially impacted and vulnerable segment of society, creating meaningful change in the world and taking an impactful step in the fulfillment of the UN SDGs.

Additionally, as the LGBTQ+ community enters the workforce, organizations may expand the definition of “gender” to become more inclusive in their impact sourcing decisions.

Impact sourcing use cases with gender-specific goals

Televerde

Established as a US-based for-profit sales and marketing organization in 1994, Televerde provides on-the-job training to more than 200,000 current and formerly incarcerated women in the US. As a purpose-driven company, Televerde helps these women reintegrate back into their communities.

Televerde has a global workforce of more than 600 employees, 70 percent of whom sit behind prison walls, and about 60 percent of its staff is comprised of incarcerated women. In addition to being paid fair market hourly wages, they receive training for the required skills and can also achieve certifications in sales and marketing, while earning college credits for completing company-sponsored training programs.

Not only does the Televerde business model help these women, but it has enabled the company to generate more than US$8 billion in revenue for its clients.

In 2020, Televerde formed its non-profit unit Televerde Foundation to further empower incarcerated women and serve as a driving force to fulfill Televerde’s mission to change the lives of 10,000 disempowered people by 2030.

iMerit

A global impact sourcing specialist, iMerit was founded in 2012 in rural India to bring a diverse talent pool from underserved backgrounds into the digital workforce. Today, 52 percent of its workforce is female, and, interestingly, the company was founded by Radha Basu, a technology pioneer who rose through the ranks when very few women did. By embedding purpose objectives into its business model, the for-profit impact sourcing firm has raised US$23.5 million in funding since July 2021.

Today, iMerit employs more than 4,000 data enrichment and annotation experts in Bhutan, India, and the US. It launched one of its first all-women centers in Metiabruz, West Bengal, a region where women have traditionally lacked professional career opportunities.

Sama

A for-profit training-data company, Sama focuses on annotating data for artificial intelligence algorithms. As one of the pioneers in the impact sourcing space, it aims to reduce poverty, empower women, and mitigate climate change. The company combines its technology platform and worker training programs to increase economic opportunity for those in underserved communities.

Sama, a certified B Corporation, operates global delivery centers in Kenya and Uganda and was named one of the “Best for the World” for workers in 2021.

By 2019, Sama had helped over 50,000 people move out of poverty. Its impact was particularly strong for women during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Sama was able to create a remote working model, allowing them to continue working despite lockdown orders.

FiveS Digital

An India-based certified woman-owned business and impact sourcing company, FiveS Digital has a workforce of over 1,500 employees at seven delivery centers in India, with a presence in Europe and North America. It started as a pure-play BPO company in 2009 and has entered the digital technology services domain over the years.

FiveS Digital collaborates with several non-profit organizations and supports young professionals’ upskilling needs, especially women from Tier-2 or Tier-3 cities and rural areas. With diversity and inclusivity as one of its key focus areas, it invests in opportunities and leadership roles for women. As a result of its continued commitment and focus, it was recently certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of women-owned and operated businesses.

Organizations are choosing suppliers that aim to help disadvantaged groups

An increasingly used type of gender-responsive procurement, impact sourcing helps organizations discover initiatives to improve gender inclusion at all levels by partnering with leading impact sourcing specialists like FiveS, Sama, iMerit, and Televerde, as well as mainstream providers.

Enterprises can make a difference by partnering with service providers that employ groups experiencing exclusion, whether as an HR practice or by subcontracting to impact sourcing specialists. As businesses increasingly reach into untapped geographies for hidden talent, they will help build a stable global economy and promote inclusivity – a true win-win scenario.

Discover more about the benefits of inclusivity in the LinkedIn Live event, Why Inclusivity is Essential in Building Your Tech Talent Workforce.

[1] https://www.unwomen.org/en/about-us/procurement/gender-responsive-procurement

The War in Ukraine May Have Supply Chain Implications beyond Energy | In the News

When Russia invaded Ukraine, most of the stories on the economic impact of the war focused on energy and wheat. Gas prices, which were already high, have continued to spike, and while harvest time is months off, Ukraine, like Russia, is a major producer of wheat, especially in the Middle East.

Based on a call I had last week with Eric Simonson, Managing Partner with Everest Group, there may also be an impact on engineering projects and ongoing technology services. Everest Group is a boutique Dallas-based research and consulting firm. Simonson says that up to 100,000 technology jobs could be disrupted as a result of the Ukraine conflict.

Read more in Supply Chain Management Review

Ukraine and the Supply Chain | In the News

When Russia invaded Ukraine, most of the stories on the economic impact of the war focused on energy and wheat. Gas prices, which were already high, have continued to spike, and while harvest time is months off, Ukraine, like Russia, is a major producer of wheat, especially to the Middle East.

Based on a call I had last week with Eric Simonson, Managing Partner with Everest Group, there may also be an impact on engineering projects and ongoing technology services. Everest Group is a boutique Dallas-based research and consulting firm. As of last week, Everest Group and Simonson were predicting that up to 100,000 technology jobs could be disrupted as a result of the Ukraine conflict – Remember that this is an incredibly fluid situation, so that number could’ve risen in the week since our conversation given the number of Ukrainians forced to flee the country.

Read more in Modern Materials Handling

Ukraine Crisis May Shift Some IT Work to India | In the News

The exit of tech companies like Accenture and IBM from Russia and disruptions in the operations of tech delivery centers in Ukraine is likely to divert more work to India and other Southeast Asian countries. It is also likely to bring more business to Indian IT services giants as global tech firms with large presence in Ukraine now stare at a period of uncertainty.

Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO and founder of Everest Group, said the environment presents a great opportunity for Indian firms as between the service providers and global business services (GBS)/captives, “there is likely in excess of a 100,000 FTEs (full time equivalents/employees) which will be affected and be taken out of the global workforce due to the war and sanctions.”

Read more in Times of India

Artificial Intelligence Service Providers PEAK Matrix® Assessment 2022

Top Artificial Intelligence Service Providers

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a crucial component in enterprises’ digital transformation journeys. In the past few years, enterprises have started adopting AI at a faster pace for better resilience, cost-effectiveness, and employee productivity. They also understand the importance of explainable and responsible AI adoption to create an inclusive, fair, and bias-free process.

To achieve these objectives, enterprises are reaching out to providers to help them navigate through their talent, capability, and data management challenges, while also ensuring a customer-sensitive and conscious AI adoption approach. Consequently, providers are increasing their investments to assist enterprises in gaining value from their AI initiatives.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT Artificial Intelligence (AI) Services PEAK Matrix® Assessment

Artificial Intelligence Service Providers: What is the Scope?

  • All industries and geographies
  • This assessment is based on Everest Group’s annual RFI process for the calendar year 2021, interactions with leading AI service providers, client reference checks, and an ongoing analysis of the AI services market

What is in this PEAK Matrix® Report:

In this research, we provide detailed profiles and assessments of 20 IT service providers featured on Everest Group’s AI Services PEAK Matrix®. Each profile provides a comprehensive picture of the provider’s service focus, key Intellectual Property (IP) / solutions, domain investments, and case studies.

LEARN MORE ABOUT Artificial Intelligence Service Providers

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What is the PEAK Matrix®?

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About 80,000 to 100,000 Tech Jobs Will Face Disruptions in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia: Everest Group | In the News

According to Everest Group, the Russia-Ukraine conflict may disrupt the services of 80,000 to 100,000 highly qualified professionals with digital engineering and IT skills from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and other neighboring countries in Eastern Europe.

“The resource pool numbers alone paint a picture of disruption of services because of the war in Ukraine and the economic impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia,” said Peter Bendor-Samuel, Chief Executive Officer at Everest Group.

Read more in The Hindu

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