Oracle expands its AI potential within Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud

March 26, 2019

At the Oracle Modern Business Experience conference in Las Vegas, Oracle confirmed a series of updates to the Oracle SaaS suite that expands its focus in finance, HR and within the supply chain.

Oracle OpenWorld Event

This week Oracle announced they had expanded their artificial intelligence capabilities with the Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud. The innovative new systems include an expense reporting and project management assistant, enhanced financial controls and expanded supply chain management.

Rondy Ng, the senior vice president of Oracle Applications Development explains that Oracle continues to provide its promise to its customers of progressive financial innovation. Rondy states that their AI strategy, along with new product updates will enable efficient adoption with effective business results, allowing finance and operations teams to stay ahead of technological developments and remain competitive.

The latest machine-learning based systems will allow finance and operations teams to allocate more time on new initiatives that improve the efficiency and compliance of business processes. New innovative products include:

Expense Reporting Assistant – streamlining expense reporting by automatically creating and matching expense items. Users can work with the assistant via a voice interface or by sending images to the assistant via email or SMS. The assistant uses machine learning to improve the process of ordering expense items and reducing audit risks.

Project Management Assistant – providing rapid project updates and allows users to update time and project progress via an assistant. The assistant learns from previous entries, planning data to modify interactions and collect project information.

Advanced Financial Controls – provide continued analysis of transactions and configurations to create automated audits and ensure financial disruptions are closely monitored. The system uses self-learning algorithms to measure system changes and transactions against a sophisticated set of algorithms.

Advanced Access Controls – Using AI techniques to automate user security analysis and ensure business data is protected from potential threats. The system uses graphical analysis to accurately measure violations hidden within security systems. The system consists of a range of data privacy rules to continually measure users, roles, setups and transactions.

Intelligent Supplier Management – Oracle DataFox integration provides expanded supplier profiles with AI-driven and business data to create supplier ranking and category formation. The system uses AI techniques to deliver risk signals from news content and press releases, which is combined with company data to automatically control risk to suppliers by examining which suppliers are at risk and suggesting alternative suppliers.

Other machine learning innovations for the Oracle ERP Cloud include:

-Intelligent Payments which allow companies to reduce their costs and solidify relationships with main suppliers by utilising supplier profile and risk data to create vendor offers in return for early payments.

-Intelligent Performance Management reveals difficult data patterns, delivering useful insights at the right time, improving the quality and impact of financial and operational decisions.

-Intelligent Process Automation allows for the automation of labour intensive jobs and enables businesses to assign employees to more specific strategic work.

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Study claims nearly half of businesses are failing to utilise HR analytics

March 26, 2019

The study claims nearly half of businesses are failing to utilise HR analytics

Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

Business intelligence and financial performance management provider, MHR Analytics believe companies are failing to really capitalise on the HR insights from artificial intelligence.

In a recent YouGov survey delivered by MHR Analytics nearly half of the businesses involved showed they were failing to use vital insights from analytics and data within their HR operations. The survey of 500 HR leaders showed that 44% have little focus on HR analytics, including technology and processes that utilise specific data to tackle business challenges and make informed financial and business decisions.

On a more positive note, finance and accounting services are proven to be leading the way in terms of using this type of technology to enhance overall business performance. Around a quarter of respondents within the finance industry are using analytics to acquire predictive insights, with over 40% performing financial or strategic planning within the HR side of the business.

Other studies indicate a similar trend, with a recent Deloitte report indicating that finance teams are generally leading investment in analytics technology (approximately 80%). The MHR study showed that finance and accounting sectors are delivering the most innovative HR analytics, with over 30% intending to use predictive analytics in the next 12 months, compared to an industry average of 15%.

The study indicated that businesses implementing big data are proving successful, with over 40% suggesting they use big data for general operational reporting, 30% using it for financial workforce planning, 23% using it to enhance reporting processes and an additional 14% using it to determine employee retention and the development of the workforce.

The study asked what was preventing businesses from delivering analytics and 35% indicated that it was due to not having the right knowledge or skills. Nearly a third of respondents stated that the biggest challenge was the general lack of quality data available within the business.

Managing people – biggest expense but a most valuable asset to a business

Most people agree that employees are the biggest expense for their business. In times of sluggish economic growth, managing employees becomes a key priority for most businesses. HR analytics is a valuable tool in making key financial decisions for businesses.

Expenses such as pensions and recruitment fees need to be considered to improve financial efficiency and support development for the future. Businesses also need to ensure they recognise the value of employees within their business plan.

To improve the ROI of employees, companies need to really understand their people and ensure their business supports their real potential. Failing to do this can be costly for a business in the long term. Studies suggest it can cost on average £30,000 to replace a member of staff, with other reports stating it can cost businesses 400% of their annual salary to replace an existing role. Further studies show workplace absences are resulting in costs of £18 billion per year to the UK economy, with a predicted increase to £21 billion in 2020.

It is a challenge for companies to ensure they are paying complete attention to managing people in terms of costs and assets. Implementing the right systems in a business to ensure there is a balance between both is challenging. Studies by PwC suggest that over 60% of UK CEOs intend to increase their number of staff and a similar proportion are also intending to reduce costs associated with their employees.

Determining the requirements for this balance based on manual systems is complicated. To really understand employee behaviour and the financial shape of your business requires constant observations and in reality, cannot be achieved via manual systems. Analytics enables companies to take total control of their ‘people data’ and really understand what is going on in their business. Innovative technology enables companies to gain full visibility of the challenges businesses face and providing the tools to predict future scenarios.

We have entered the big data industrial revolution and as the world becomes more reliant on data, analytics is becoming more important within HR and a tool that businesses need to adapt to remain competitive. Gaining insights into the overall performance of employees creates a faster and more efficient decision-making process, creating further financial savings for a business.

What are the key benefits of analytics in HR?

Studies have proven that companies that implement analytics to study their employees have experienced a significant improvement in average annual profits, improvement in sales, higher operating incomes and higher sales per employee.

Leading computer and electronics business Hewlett-Packard had a problem of high management turnover which ultimately resulted in the loss of revenue. HR analytics insights allowed HP to assess and identify key factors influencing employee attrition, enabling HP to create strategies to retain employees, resulting in a saving of approximately $300 million.

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Industry experts highlight the need to embrace analytics as a powerful tool for modern enterprise performance management

March 20, 2019

Industry experts highlight the need to embrace analytics as a powerful tool for modern enterprise performance management. Leading data management consultancy Altius has a goal to transform the potential reporting capabilities and performance management of businesses. The data management experts want companies to move away from making vital decisions based on traditional processes and replace this methodology with an automated, machine-driven system that integrated innovative analytics that defines business goals.

Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System
All businesses need to monitor their performance and have information accessible to inform and enable employees to make the right decisions. Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) systems have been working on delivering these results, adding value to a company by supplying information and insights to predict future performance.
EPM systems, however, do have limitation and at present, still, require a significant amount of time required on data entry and gathering data before any results and analysis can be performed.

Integrating EPM and Analytics

More businesses are starting to integrate innovative systems to analyse data, capable of storing large volumes of data that is readily available for real-time analysis, providing multiple layers of detail and insights that beforehand were not available to a business.

Altius has the vision to integrate advanced analytics into an EPM system, providing more insights and a competitive advantage over other companies, producing an integrated analytical and management process from sourcing data through to advanced analytics.

Delivering accurate details on revenue

Providing clear and current details of revenue profiles can enable a management team to truly understand what impact their decisions and other factors are having on profitability. Analytical models can provide vital details on business products, linking revenue and cost analytics within an EPM system provides a clearer view into overall business profits.

The process of monitoring revenues can be monitored regularly enabling management to keep a constant check if there are any changes to revenue streams. In a situation where the system predicts a decline in revenue, further capital and funds can be supplemented towards sales and marketing efforts. This process can be completely managed by automated algorithms, avoiding any requirements from analysts collecting and building data reports.

Generating informed and strategic business decisions

Creating a singular integrated system, data and processes mean the correct information can be delivered at the appropriate time, enabling businesses to make informed decisions based on useful data. As Altius highlights, it is vital to define the difference between interesting data and useful data. For example, a data science algorithm providing forecasts on potential revenue is interesting. A report displaying the same revenue forecast and how this impacts the rest of the business and its revenue streams are useful data. A system that displays the same output and enables further modelling to be added to determine the best decision is the intended goal of data companies like Altius.

In the previous year, integrating these types of systems and processes required extensive development efforts. Today, however, modern technical systems, the associated implementation costs and total ownership costs are considerably lower than it was just a few years ago.

Altius points towards the main challenge not concerning technical implementation but more of a cultural change. Company executives need to completely trust analytics, the system and data created to really enhance the rate of strategic decisions.

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Integrating Business Intelligence can increase sales by over 20%, according to a new study

March 19, 2019

According to a new study UK research company IQBlade, Business Intelligence adoption can result in a 24% increase in sales. The market intelligence provides announced the findings in its latest Tech Impact 2019 Report which focuses on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 businesses. The overall goal of the report is to reveal the technologies with the biggest impact on the success of British businesses and comparing others that are not using new technology systems.

Data and Analytics Jobs

Businesses seeking to gain the edge over other competitors and continually grow successfully requires a complete understanding of their customers, partners, their competitors and what opportunities are available. The Tech Impact 2019 report investigates how technologies used by Fast Track 100 businesses are influencing their overall performance level.

The report includes:

A summary of the technologies used by companies within the UK
Technologies utilised by the fastest growing businesses in the UK
A detailed analysis of what strategies the fastest growing businesses are using compared to other UK companies.
Insight into key technology, its impact and an overall analysis
General profiles of the fastest growing companies and their associated technologies.

According to the report, average sales of businesses within Fast Track that utilise BI and data visualisation software was £39 million, compared to £24 million to companies that didn’t use the same technology. The study also showed that the average size of companies using data analytics was higher by nearly 100%. In total, just over 60% of fast track companies are currently using BI and data visualisation technology solutions. The overall percentage of fastest growing companies in the UK using these innovative tools is over three times higher than other general businesses in the UK.

Studies have proven that data analytics can create a competitive edge for businesses. Implementing the capabilities of analytics, along with a strong focus on innovative specialist tools are the driving forces behind creating a competitive advantage. Recent developments in technology, the progress of cloud analytics and distributed storage have further strengthened the case for implementing data analytics into a business. These advantages have created a wider adoption of analytics into wider industries.

The study also showed an 8% difference between companies utilising BI and other businesses that don’t over a three-year timescale. Fast Track businesses that do take advantage of this growing trend can experience on average a £15 million increase in sales every year. The report indicates that Progress Software is the most popular Business Intelligence tool used by fast track companies, with the integration of 26%. A further 14% are using Tableau Software, 8% are utilising Qlik and an additional 7% have implemented IBM Cognos.

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Research suggests Host Analytics can provide 400% ROI and over $1 million in benefits over three years

March 13, 2019

Leading EPM provider, Host Analytics allows customers to improve productivity, efficiency and the number of opportunities available to a business.


The cloud-based EPM solutions provider recently released a study called ‘The Total Economic Impact of Host Analytics’, delivered by independent research business, Forester Consulting. The results suggested that Host Analytics provides $1.2 million in benefits over a three year period a total return on investment measuring nearly 400%.

The study covered a range of businesses, with many highlighting the considerable value they have gained from using Host Analytics. The platform has enabled many businesses to deliver new initiatives that generally would involve the support of five additional professionals. The equivalent increased productivity and financial planning potential and analysis of staff measures to over $730 in savings over a three year period.

Aside from the benefits to the finance side of a business, the research showed a considerable impact on overall business performance, with improvements in operating income due to enhanced decision making. One respondent highlighted that the believed the biggest change was a shift in their focus from looking behind to looking forward to the future.

Ron Baden, chief executive officer at Host Analytics explains that they always believed the platform provided great value to customers and the latest study has placed a specific value to support this claim. Baden highlights that many financial professionals are seeking to improve and modernise how they perform jobs and to increase collaboration with other colleagues, and this is exactly what Host Analytics provides.

For this study, Forrester Consulting provided its Total Economic Impact methodology, interviewing active Host Analytics customers to measure cost, benefit, flexibility and risk factors that influence overall investment choices. Survey respondents were selected from a range of industries, from social media to manufacturing industries.

The study revealed several other significant benefits of Host Analytics:

Improved Scenario Planning – The system offers improved integration of data sources, enhance measurement of business spend and other features which support better scenario planning.

Efficient book closing – Host Analytics allows businesses to close their accounts quicker at the end of financial periods, opening up available staff time to focus on planning, process improvement and other critical business activities.

Retaining Employees – Host Analytics removes the time and effort required within financial processes, resulting in improved job satisfaction.

The Total Economic Impact of Host Analytics study contains details of each business interviewed, the main challenges facing each business prior to implementing Host Analytics, and in-depth cost analysis along with the benefits and return on investment.

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Oracle shows considerable SaaS growth in Australia

March 13, 2019

The general manager for ERP/EPM SaaS at Oracle said their business has experienced 100% year on year growth within Australia.

Skills shortages and the challenges for businesses using data analytics

Just looking back a few years, Oracle’s SaaS customers were fairly small. Many businesses that were using Oracle SaaS were unable to afford the capital costs of having an on-site system.  Today, regular users of Oracle products are transferring from on-site premises to SaaS.

Whilst the business implement an ‘applications unlimited’ policy, referring to on-premises applications will trigger further development for the next few years, customers can enhance their systems by transferring to the Oracle Fusions SaaS platform.

John Leonard, General Manager of ERP/EPM SaaS explains that nearly every project is completed within a year, with many being delivering in under 8 months. Leonard also highlights the sheer expense of on-site upgrades, suggesting they can incur costs of nearly $20 million for larger businesses. Transferring to SaaS offers a low-risk alternative to potentially costly and risky upgrades. Due to regular features releases, SaaS enables simpler adoption of new technologies, including blockchain.

Leonard explains that back in 2012, most Oracle CRM customers were using on-site software but by 2016 many had transferred to SaaS. A similar transition is now occurring within HR and Finance software.

Australia is following in this path with an extensive list of local customers ranging from investment business QIC to fast food chain Hungry Jack’s implementing SaaS. To further support customers moving to Saas, Oracle provides an option enabling companies to utilise the consultancy operation of Oracle and customers pay on delivery.

ERP is a top priority for Oracle in regards to SaaS during the next year. Leonard explains that many SaaS competitors provide point solutions, but Oracle’s SaaS applications use the same codebase and data model. Leonard believes that companies are looking for a provider to includes the whole of their business, rather than one specific area.

A key advantage of SaaS is that it allows users to monitor their software without viewing customers data. This means users can analyse potential issues before customers notice and identify any trends and react appropriately. Leonard believes that SaaS is the fastest method to provide innovation to customers, offering a significant advantage over other competitors.

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Mindstream Analytics gains platinum partner level status from OneStream

March 13, 2019

OneStream Software confirmed this week that Mindstream Analytics had become a Platinum level implementation partner, highlighting their dedication to combining with OneStream and their strategy.

Anaplan releases Third Quarter financial results

OneStream Software offers an innovative CPM solution that integrates and simplifies financial processes, planning, reporting, analytics and the quality of financial data. The software can be utilised in the cloud or on-premise. The SmartCPM platform is the first of its kind to offer a solution for corporate standards and controls. The system enables businesses to report and plan at several levels within a single application without affecting corporate standards.

Alex Ladd, CEO of Mindstream Analytics explains that their business has made a considerable investment into training and their consultants are developing a process that combines the focus of OneStream’s innovative platform. Ladd highlights that it is great to see their efforts confirmed by being rewarded with the highly recognised reward of becoming a OneStream Platinum partner.

Mindstream Analytics consists of an award-winning team of consultants with years of experience in performance management implementations within planning, financial report forecasting, budgeting and analytics. Combining their technology skills, strong business experience and a carefully created methodology, MindStream has delivered maximum ROI for their clients from OneStream investments.


Craig Colby, the chief revenue officer of OneStream Software recently claimed how excited they were to confirm MindStream Analytics as a Platinum partner. Colby explains that this level is awarded specifically to partners who meet the highest standard and quality levels and have a record of providing the greatest solutions and value for customers. According to Colby, MindStream’s platinum status is a result of their skills, knowledge and experience of using OneStream SmartCPM solution to enhance financial decisions and improve insights for clients.


OneStream Software

OneStream Software offers a performance management solution that combines and simplifies planning, reporting, financial consolidation, analytics and the quality of financial data. With the option of being utilised on site or in the cloud, OneStream XF is one of the only solutions offering corporate standards and controls, enabling businesses to plan and report at multiple levels within a single application. The OneStream XF MarketPlace offers downloads that enable customers to enhance their CPM platform and meet the requirements within finance and operations industries.


Mindstream Analytics

Mindstream Analytics is a managed services consultancy that supports clients with improving their business performance and decision making. With years of experience in analytics and performance management, MindStream provides a range of services from financial planning and reporting to selecting the best software and implementing new services. Their AppCare Managed Services Support has maintained its place as the number one EPM solution for 4 years in the MSPmentor highest ranking of global service providers.

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Changing to Oracle ERP Cloud transformed business performance at Cetera Financial

March 6, 2019

Some users at Cetera were cautious of Oracle Saas platforms for ERP, EPM and HCM but have recognised the benefits of a single entry point, innovative planning and budgeting tools, along with standard Excel-based UIs.

Enterprise Resource Planning Finance System

Transforming existing conventional applications to a new and smaller range of integrated tools can be a cautious exercise for many businesses. Whilst many professionals prefer to maintain their traditional software, the benefits and simplicity of SaaS generally result in enhanced efficiency, winning over any sceptics and resulting in improved business performance.

US-based Cetera Financial Group, the main provider of services and technology for financial companies went through the process of implementing Oracle ERP Cloud for financials, accounts and procurement, and Oracle EPM Cloud for planning and budgeting.

Matthew Whitehead, vice president of financial planning and analysis at Cetera explained that the simple lack of custom features of new SaaS applications was a concern. Users questioned whether transferring from a familiar system into a perceived rigid system was a wise choice.

Cetera worked with implementation partners PwC to deliver a procedure to reduce customisation and ensure the business gained the best results from configuring Oracle ERP Cloud Software. The initial evaluation generated a range of questions such as why Cetera thinks they differ from the thousands of other installs that Oracle has performed over the years to create an efficient cloud solution.

In terms of Oracle EPM Cloud, Whitehead explains the issues were more pronounced due to the software forcing users into its financial frameworks and workforce planning. Cetera focused on selecting its main goals and financial modelling requirement to establish the EPM software’s key performance indicators.

The result? Cetera reduced its chart of accounts from the general ledger, enabling users to focus more on other accounts. Whitehead explains the system provided them with speed and flexibility in the capability to forecast, plan, report and measure continuously.

Cetera also transformed their existing planning and forecasting tool, Solver BI360. The new Oracle planning and budgeting cloud service (PBCS) has enhanced the forecasting potential at Cetera and maintained the preferred choice of interface for most users.

Whitehead explains this is the place where Oracle provides its Hyperion business intelligence and corporate performance management system. Whitehead highlights that PBCS also includes Hyperion Financial Reporting Studio, offering a more solid reporting system, allowing for reporting in both HTML and PDF formats. Whitehead explains that Excel is still a prominent focus for financial teams but to serve the requirements of business users Cetera really needed a more standardised, streamlined and simpler system.


Oracle ERP Cloud – Single Entry Point

For Cetera, one of the main challenges was determining how to communicate the impacts on procurement, expenses, planning and budgeting, areas that affect many users. Cetera was also in the process of transferring its expense system from an onsite SAP Concur to Oracle ERP Cloud.

Whitehead along with Jeffrey Buchheister, CFO of Cetera worked with marketing and communications to deliver a clear strategy that could be passed on to it users. In-house training teams and HR would support with training.

Whitehead explains that they delivered a series of communication strategies to ensure the vision was clear and more importantly, how it would impact each department and the benefits it would bring. The underlying message was that Oracle ERP Cloud and EPM Cloud would create an industry shift that promotes further growth and creates further insights into the business.

In hindsight, Whitehead suggested that a helpful process would have been to focus on more complex cases and really determine the solutions to each individual case and really understanding potential challenges that Cetera may face in the future.

Now ERP and EPM is in the cloud, employees have more access to data and insightful information. Individual accounts and logins for a range of systems including BI360 and Concur are no more, replaced with a singular intranet login via Oracle cloud, encouraging overall user experience.

Users can record performance and goals all within one portal that also integrates planning, budgeting and the ERP side of the business. Whitehead believes the entire end-user experience has been transformed and improved dramatically and general feedback has proven the system change has been a huge success for Cetera.



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Finance leaders highlight data science and analytics as main priorities for 2019

March 6, 2019

Data is essential for success in the finance market. According to studies, 6 in 10 finance industry leaders believe leveraging data analytics for more insightful information and strategic decision making are top priorities for 2019.

Maximising your business potential with real time data analytics

The capabilities to utilise data analytical tools and big data to create an advantage over other competitors is a significant challenge for board members and C-suite directors worldwide.

There are core areas within a business where data analytics can really be applied. In regards to planning, analytics can be used to calculated risk profiling, data testing through simulated studies and statistical sampling. Data analytics can enable the creation of audits to generate rapid and efficient monitoring, keeping a check on patterns to predict cases of risk and potential fraud.

US consultancy Protiviti released its latest Finance Trends Survey based on over 400 finance leaders and professionals. The results indicate that security, privacy and data analysis are the main priorities for finance leaders this year. All three highlighted are connected in some shape or form to data, with improved data analytics representing high-level importance to over 60% responding CFOs.

The study clearly showed the data is a central theme within the financial market and essential tool for creating further commercial insights, increasing sales and enhancing management reporting and decision making. It is also viewed by many finance professionals as a tool for improving financial operations internally, with over half of finance managers viewing data analytics as critical for improving business processes.

In order to efficiently use data analytics and really see the benefit, there are certain factors that need to be in place. Many finance leaders have claimed they are struggling to maintain the quality of data. The quality of the available data will ultimately influence the reporting and analysis generated for a business. Data governance is a critical element and many finance leaders are facing the challenging of ensuring their business has strong and effective data governance in place.

Data quality can also be enhanced through master data management, a process that is both time consuming and costly. Once implemented, however, finance leaders can gather a better understanding of all areas of potential profit and risk within a business. Without creating quality data, the end results from analytics are potentially inaccurate and ineffective for a business. Bearing in mind the continued progression of artificial intelligence and machine learning means data quality will become even more critical for business transformation.

Data Security

We are in an era of cybersecurity threats and the implementation of GDPR has added further pressure to businesses to protect and manage their data correctly. Keeping information safe is a critical challenge for finance leader. If financial data is mismanaged it can result in significant damage to a business, both from a financial aspect and in terms of reputation. It is no surprise then that security in finance is a top priority for finance leaders, with over 75% of CFOS listing data security as the most important factor to focus on this year.

The challenge is accentuated for larger businesses with a higher turnover as they face a greater volume and complexity with managing their data. As the years go on, data security will only grow in importance. With added data comes further inspections from both customers and regulators and as more companies turn to the cloud, more security risks will be revealed.

Within the study, respondents also highlighted the continuing changing demands of internal customers, managing regulation changes, cloud transitions and tax requirements as other key priorities for 2019.

One particular topic in finance that is gaining a lot of media exposure is robotics process automation (RPA). The study, however, suggested that few finance leaders are really looking to implement this area, with 1 in 5 CFOs believing RPA to be a high priority and over 2 in 5 actually viewing it as a low priority for 2019.

Tony Abel, MD at Protiviti explains that many businesses are yet to really understand the best ways of leveraging RPA. Abel suggests that added expense pressures, combined with demands to become more efficient will likely drive further use of RPA over time to enhance internal processes. RPA can be implemented easily to perform particular repetitive tasks. In terms of finance, the accounts payable section would be a relevant starting area i.e. invoice processing and payment verification.

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