Tag Archives: altimeter group

Video Series: “Digital Stat Chat” Debut!

As a follow-up to Altimeter’s 2014 State of Digital Transformation report my colleague Brian Solis and I launched in July, I enlisted the help of Crazy Eyes Productions to create a new way of telling the data story. With that, the “Digital Stat Chat” video series was born. In the first episode, you’ll be introduced to half of the data from our report, with the second half coming next week. You can also access all graphics from the video on Altimeter Group’s Flickr page.

In the future, you can turn to Digital Stat Chat for my review and analysis of newly released data from Altimeter and other reputable sources. From social to mobile, disruptive tech to CX, you’ll find it all here.

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Altimeter Group + Facebook Report: Why Mobile is Essential for Brand Marketing

Digital Media, Mobile Time SpentCompanies that treat mobile as the “first screen” today will be better prepared for tomorrow’s consumers. Mobile is no longer a luxury; it’s table stakes for connecting with your digital customer. It enables right-time, real-time relevancy in brand messaging and promotion, opening up a world of possibilities to the savvy marketer who invests in understanding the mobile, and digital, customer journey.

Facebook commissioned Altimeter Group’s Rebecca Lieb, analyst, and I to explore the growth and evolution of mobile branding and advertising as viable means to reach customers in new ways, on their terms. You can read the report below, and check out Facebook’s interview with Rebecca on its news blog.

[1] comScore Major Mobile Milestones in May: Apps Now Drive Half of All Time Spent on Digital https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Major-Mobile-Milestones-in-May-Apps-Now-Drive-Half-of-All-Time-Spent-on-Digital June 25, 2014. United States.

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New Research: Socially Engaged Companies Get More Leads, Attract Better Talent

It’s no corporate HR secret: the greater investment made into employees, the greater the ultimate reward back to the company. This has never been truer than today, when always-on employees are increasingly connected to companies via an array of social channels and expect to be greeted by an engaged employer offering valuable content.

Altimeter Group partnered with LinkedIn to look deeper into the impact of corporate social media on a company’s employees, its executives, and its bottom line. Specifically, we examined the results that 25 of the top socially engaged companies reap when cultivating an engaged presence on LinkedIn via content marketing, employee engagement, talent and recruitment, and sales efforts.

We found that companies that take advantage of their ability to reach employees on a deeper level are coming out on top:

1. Employee engagement on LinkedIn is most successful when championed by leadership, starting with active executives. Executives from the most socially engaged companies on LinkedIn are:

Socially Engaged Executives

2. This leads to employees feeling empowered and inspired at their jobs. Employees at companies that are among the top socially engaged in LinkedIn are:

Employees at Socially Engaged Companies

3. And, perhaps most importantly, the top socially engaged companies on LinkedIn reap benefits to the bottom line as well. These companies are:

Results of Socially Engaged CompaniesCheck out the full infographic on LinkedIn’s blog, and learn more about our study and the impact of relationship economics from my colleague, Brian Solis.


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New Research: Understanding the Digital Customer Experience Drives Investment in Digital Transformation

[This post originally appeared on Altimeter Group’s blog.]

“Digital transformation” isn’t a trendy moniker to signify an increase in technology investment. It’s a renewed focus on the customer and the human side of business.

In Altimeter Group’s latest research, we uncovered that digital transformation is a re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models with a pointed purpose: to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle. Understanding the digital customer experience (DCX) is one of the primary catalysts for businesses placing substantial investment in digital transformation.

But, why does it matter? What makes digital transformation so important NOW? Social, mobile, real-time, and other disruptive technologies are aligning like never before to necessitate big changes within organizations, forcing them to adapt in order to maintain relevancy. Digital transformation is significant because it is finally driving real change within businesses; they’re developing new models, team structures, and customer-centered philosophies along the way.

For the better part of the last year, my colleague Brian Solis and I researched the current state of digital transformation efforts among best-in-class organizations. We spoke with 20 ecosystem contributors to understand what digital transformation is, what its benefits are, what catalysts drive it, and what challenges lie ahead. We looked for insights into how companies are transforming from the inside out in order to formulate best practices amidst a time of crucial change. We found:

Social Business Alone Isn’t Enough

Social business helps executives flatten traditional hierarchies by empowering employees to connect, communicate, and collaborate across traditional boundaries. But, without a vision for how to compete in connected markets and how to create value for a digital customer, social alone doesn’t cut it. When leadership recognizes that existing business models, systems and processes are ill-equipped to respond without big changes, digital transformation is inevitable.

Brands are Out of Touch with Digital Customer Behaviors and Expectations

Altimeter Group found that brands are out of touch with their digital customers. Even though companies are boosting technology budgets, they’re doing so based on assumptions and not from data or research into the new customer journey. More so, brands don’t yet have the infrastructure to support next-generation marketing efforts. But, there is hope! We also learned that brands are creating a sense of urgency by using insights stemming from the new DCX as the catalyst for internal digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Puts People at the Center

Every business says they’re customer-centric, but Altimeter learned that leading companies put people at the center of change. They start with studying the data (digital footprints and preferences) plus behavior to learn where to prioritize technology, resources, and investments. The case for urgency is made in updating an antiquated customer journey to a more accurate, adaptive, optimized DCX.

Digital Transformation Success Lies in the Reaction of Three Key Elements

During our research, we uncovered three core elements that contribute to successful beginnings and growth of digital transformation efforts. By making significant investments in technology and new business models, companies like Starbucks, Nestle, Intuit, and Sephora are getting in front of digital transformation—rather than stuck reacting to it.

The Three Elements of Digital Transformation

  • Element #1: Vision and Leadership. Digital transformation is an emergent movement and not yet recognized as a formal priority or effort by most businesses. This requires those leading or attempting to get a digital transformation program in motion to make the business case. But, the business case needs more than evidence or anecdotes; it needs a story and a vision for what it looks like and what it delivers.
  • Element #2: Digital Customer Experience. Digital customer experience begins with research, not guesswork, to study personas, behaviors, and expectations throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle. Once armed with information, digital transformation takes shape by specifically aligning people, processes, and technologies against goals and milestones to map a new and effective journey for digital customers.
  • Element #3: The Digital Transformation Team. In many cases, we learned that organizations form special teams to bring people together to start talking and put change into motion. These teams go by many names: digital circles, Centers of Excellence (CoE), rapid innovation teams, digital acceleration teams, and more.

The path toward digital transformation is not prescribed. Every business subscribes to this movement as one that is long-term, without an end in sight. No companies we interviewed claimed to have “figured this out,” nor does any organization believe it has successfully undergone digital transformation. However, one thing is clear: a sense of urgency for change must come from within. A change agent needs to make the case to show that digital customers are already moving on due to a lack of focus on DCX. Only then can organizations begin the process of re-aligning and re-inventing current processes, infrastructures, and teams in order to bring about a more connected customer experience.

You can download the full report here, and share its graphics from our Flickr page

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SXSWi 2013: Data, Data Everywhere

At this year’s SXSWi, I heard a familiar tune: everything still leads back to the data. It’s the underlying and often puzzling theme serving as the connective tissue for all other emerging trends I noted at the festival. Whether perusing the hectic vendor floor, attending insightful sessions, or conversing with attendees over lunch, it was impossible to ignore the data elephant (and, its challenges) in the room.

My LinkedIn social graph visualization. Data upon data!

Data upon data, as visualized in a snapshot of my LinkedIn social graph.

The question keeping everyone up at night is, “How do we make sense of all this data?”
Tracking customers via their data along the Dynamic Customer Journey (DCJ) is morphing into a top priority for organizations as traditional and digital media more seamlessly converge into delivering one holistic experience for the customer. Add to that the rising popularity of the “quantified self,” and companies are now struggling to not only connect the dots between their own data sources but also the data sets of their customers. With consumers beginning to take control of their own data tracking and analysis, the complexity of taking calculated actions only increases for businesses attempting to make sense (or, “cents,” perhaps) of the myriad of data points at their fingertips.

Collaborative consumption is the new buzzword, with its applications attempting to transition from a “nice to have” to proving utility.
From Zaarly to Lyft, Task Rabbit to Airbnb, collaborative consumption has taken hold in the online and mobile application space. Although the majority of these companies are technically in their infancy, their apps are beginning to mature as they develop stronger location and micro-location targeting and service delivery capabilities. A focus on adapting to better deliver real-time information and individualized customization to users is also coming to light as consumers demand instant gratification, fine-tuned relevance, and the death of mass “customization.”

New business opportunities are being discovered as companies further analyze their customers’ dynamic, flexible social graphs.
With companies becoming more savvy in determining the impact of their customers’ online social connections, new business opportunities are emerging that focus on disruption via micro-community development, influencer and advocacy programs, and vertical-specific targeting (healthcare, education, and entertainment were definite stand-outs at SXSWi). As such, analytics is still a big part of the equation, gaining importance as businesses strive to create new opportunities and, still, prove social ROI—whether analyzing an individual’s data, group data sets, or connections between complex big-data graphs.

Although the idea of data management, analysis, and related action may not have a shiny new appeal, it certainly can’t be ignored. The bottom line is that we must solve these core data equations before moving on to the next red-hot, sexy application that benefits from its understanding. Otherwise, the energy of disruption will short-after be diluted by a lack of strategic business value.

For others who attended SXSWi, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Did you also see data as such a pervasive theme woven into the core of your sessions and conversations?

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Disrupting the Mobile Location Landscape: 
Exploring Key Themes from Mobile Loco 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 1.16.24 PMLast week, I attended the Mobile Loco conference in San Francisco. Mobile location technologies have always been an interest area for me, so I was excited to see what disruptive topics would be up for discussion during the annual event.

This post will explore mobile location technologies and applications from the perspective of brands that are looking to grow in this hyper-targeting space. There weren’t many brands on panels at Mobile Loco, but the opportunities, barriers, and possibility for industry disruption can be applied to brands just as easily as vendors, startups, or investors.

Opportunities: How can brands evolve their current mobile presence to deliver greater value to their customers and their bottom line?

Yelp Mobile Advertising

Yelp’s inline mobile advertising delivers value to its app users by helping them find relevant places nearby.

Many opportunities were touched on in the day’s sessions. They included, in no particular order:

  • Mobile advertising. For companies like Yelp, advertising within its mobile application that is based on user history and current location has become commonplace, nearly accepted as normal by its users. However, this isn’t the case for all mobile applications. The transition to mobile advertising may not be as smooth for brands whose apps do not lay ground for such a natural tie-in.
  • Personalization and customization. Admittedly, this opportunity is probably of the lowest hanging fruit to brands, but it’s one that many still have yet to harvest. Mobile offers a world of granular location data that brands can use to create engaging, valuable experiences. Gamification is often connected as well, also used as a way to gather more data about customers while simultaneously boosting brand engagement and sales.
  • Immediate satisfaction. With the advent of companies like Uber, getting what you want, exactly where you are, at the press of a button will become the norm. Look for instant gratification to be a theme in the New Year. 
Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital put it best: “The mobile phone is a remote control for your life. The notion of pressing buttons to get what you want immediately is compelling.”
  • Integration with POS. Until mobile location can prove its weight in cold hard cash, it will remain a novelty. Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason has helped track the company’s mobile ROI (including redemption, overspend, and customer loyalty) by integrating with merchants’ payment systems.
  • Vertical expansion. Until now, mobile location apps have been broader in terms of focus. Anyone can check into anywhere, for example. 2013 will bring a greater focus into vertical opportunities. The number one prediction? Retail.

Barriers: What obstacles and challenges are brands currently facing in evolving their mobile presence to take advantage of location-based technologies?

Again, in no particular order, common challenges arose amongst speakers:

  • Mobile location is only part of the equation. As Vishy Gopalakrishnan, VP, Mobility, SAP, put it: “Mobile location is necessary but not sufficient. Location is just one factor—it’s a much bigger equation.” If brands focus solely on location-based campaigns and solutions to solve their mobile problems, success will be futile.
  • Users don’t see additional value in sharing more data. Brands must consider the value proposition for their customers when asking them to share location data with their company. It comes down to relevancy: what makes the experience better? Can customers save more money or time? Will their data be used in the right way? Transparency in data usage yields consumer trust.
  • Data silos act as barriers to innovation. When individual brands create silos of data it’s usually because they want to control each touch point. With multiple data silos within the same brand, how can anyone make sense of it? At the end of the day, it’s customers who suffer from fragmented experiences.
  • Mobile advertising is intrusive. Although conversion is getting better, consumers still view mobile advertising as intrusive—especially if based on location data. Brands must hurdle this barrier by ensuring their advertising is relevant and delivered in a non-intrusive way that makes sense with the application’s key features. In the words of Mike Ghaffary, VP, Business Development for Yelp: “If you have an app that has nothing to do with location, it’s extremely difficult to successfully advertise based on location. You can’t even pay in the space.”
  • Location quality is still lacking. Simply put, location services aren’t accurate 100 percent of the time. When location data isn’t correct, it becomes more difficult for brands to deliver relevant features, offers, and recommendations (especially when looking at mapping interior spaces).

Disruption: How can brands push disruption of the mobile location space, ultimately delighting and surprising their customers?

Although it’s difficult to predict the next big mobile location disruption, a few keynote speakers and panelists shared their thoughts:

Increased automation.

“Push automation where it hasn’t been before. What are the areas of technology that haven’t yet been deployed? Think how GrubHub transformed delivery, or how Uber expanded its market. Automation and ease of use leads to an expansion of use cases.” –Bill Gurley, Benchmark Capital

Indoor mapping.

“It’s all about delivering wonderful, context-aware experiences to mobile users. Retail is an important vertical [for interior mapping], but it’s not the only one. We’re looking at museums, education, conferences … we want to leverage every possible asset on mobile to make indoor location work.” –Cormac Conroy, VP Engineering & Product Management. Location Products & Technology for Qualcomm

Enterprise adoption.

“The mobile world has opened up access to the enterprise and expanded the market of what you can go after. A lot of companies have applications with the potential to change and disrupt—from new models for mobile-centric salespeople, to changing how payments work in retail.” –Chris Yeh, VP of Platform at Box

Relevant advertising.

“We’re just at the tip of the relevance piece at Yelp. We’re delighting users with their location data and mobile advertisements, helping them find things thanks to ads.” –Mike Ghaffary, VP, Business Development for Yelp

Look for these opportunities, barriers, and disruptive themes to work their way into future Altimeter research. And, for others who attended Mobile Loco – anything key I’ve missed from the day?

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Content Curation: Truths, Threats, Motivations and Opportunities

Curation is taking over the digital content scene. With related applications and platforms multiplying, the act of collecting and sharing content has become second nature for most of us.

Curation applications on iTunes.

Applications used for curation of content (often dubbed "productivity" apps) are quickly multiplying in the iTunes store.

Take a look at your Facebook timeline, Twitter stream and blog. How many of your last 20 posts were 100 percent original content? What percentage was repurposed from somewhere else online? How many Spotify lists have you created? And, what about all that pinning?

The Basis for Curation

The foundation underlying the act of curation isn’t new in the digital space. I liken it to the well-known breakdown of how people interact online: the vast majority of individuals are “lurkers,” as it’s the safest way to contribute to the content creation ecosystem. Curation is similar; it’s far less threatening to share than create. When multiple people have a hand in the artifact, responsibility for its impact is shared.

Adding to that foundation is the issue of data management. It’s only logical that, when faced with a large amount of content online, that individuals will turn to curation as a way to manage (ie. bookmark) and then later reference or share relevant content with their networks. As the amount of content published online continues to grow, as will curators multiply in response to a need for organization and theme identification (with the ultimate goal of utility).

Related, this leads into my initial reaction to the trend itself. On first blush, the idea of curation just feels lazy. It’s far less time-consuming and much quicker rewarding to curate rather than create. And, when talking data, it’s far simpler to look at all the content out there and curate, rather than analyze the gaps and create new, original content to fill them.

This brings up other unnerving questions as well:

  • With curation on the rise, what effect will this have on the creation of new, interesting, valuable and thought-provoking content online?
  • When (if at all) will curated content be accepted as unique content?
  • What happens when curators far outnumber creators? Will the amount of new content to be shared ever be so low that it affects public opinion, due to the same viewpoints being shared and re-shared?

You see where this is going: Curation gives way to a theoretical death to creativity, making way for the strengthening of the digital native’s ability to pass off laziness as content creation.

But, upon taking a closer look behind the why of curation, I was a bit persuaded as to its inherent (and, potential) value.

Motivations Behind Content Curation and Sharing

After pulling some data from Trendstream, I found the following to be quite interesting:

  • Motivations behind curation are positivePeople collect artifacts that they associate with positive experiences. You rarely find curation of negativity, or sharing of items that are associated with poor experiences. Related, the top motivators across all age groups for sharing content about products and services online are, in order of significance: to share a good experience, to help consumer pick out good product and to encourage company improvement. This is the warm glow around curation that I adore.
  • Millennials share content focused on “self.” Millennials’ (16-24yo) secondary motivator behind sharing content is focused on self. Specifically, “Like to share my opinion.” As generations get older, secondary motivation shifts to a bigger picture though, to helping consumers. Finally, the next generation’s (45-54yo) secondary motivation shifts again, to that of company improvement. This isn’t too surprising, especially as Millennials have garnered a reputation for being an entitled (and dare I say vain?) generation. Add to that the fact that many have grown up recognizing technology as a platform for both utility and self-expression or promotion.
  • Fostering expertise is among lowest motivations. “To be an expert” is cited among the lowest motivations for all age groups, suggesting that when individuals share content they understand they’re not the “expert.”  Dare I say that this lends credence to the notion that there is still some respect given to original content? That, in order to be recognized as an “expert,” unique content and thoughts must be present. Still, I found this data point surprising. I predict that curated content will increasingly be more accepted as “original” content over time, as long as it contains some unique insight or alteration.

Where Curation Opportunities Lie

Curation is here to stay, so how can organizations take advantage of this trend within their content marketing initiatives?

Let’s jump back to an earlier thought posed: What will happen once curators significantly outpace creators, and the amount of original content to be shared is lessened to the point of near obsolescence?

Someone will have to fill the gap. And, that “someone” could easily be a company, brand, nonprofit or the like. Curation will prove to be a very positive trend for marketers who are looking to affect their audience via way of content marketing. If their key influencers are no longer creating content to the degree they once did, that makes way for branded (if even subtly) content to further shape opinion and markets. Alternatively, it’s quite possible that content curators will also begin to be recognized as influencers in their respective industries, and organizations will treat them as such.

Brands must take these changes into consideration when formulating their content strategy. What content is most easily shared, and where? How can an organization capitalize on the fact that content it creates will likely be curated to form something bigger or different? How should well-known curators be marketed to (or, is it more PR outreach)?

I’ll end with a few final thoughts as to the future of this space. I don’t have time to cover these today, but I expect three things on the horizon:

  • The amount of content curated will rise and fall in cycles, as shared content depends on original content creation to survive.
  • Organizations will weave curation into their content strategies, at the very least to ensure sharing of their content is as simple as possible for consumers.
  • Application development – both web-based and mobile – will continue to support the curation trend.

Next, stay tuned for a follow-up post where I discuss the connection between curation and the dynamic customer journey (DCJ) – one of Altimeter Group’s newly released research themes. You can check out the three themes on our website here.

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Fresh Research from Altimeter: A Guide to Digital Influence

Altimeter Group continues publishing Open Research this month with the latest from Principal Analyst Brian Solis – The Rise of Digital Influence: A “how-to” guide for businesses to spark desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence.

Digital Influence is one of the hottest trends in social media. I mean, most of us have a good idea of our Klout score, right? But, it goes far beyond such metrics as Klout, Kred, TwitterGrade and the like. The Rise of Digital Influence was written as a “how-to” guide for businesses in getting results through cultivating their online influence, as well as a guide for consumers and academics in understanding how influence is scored and how these scores affect online reputations.
Report highlights include:
  • Influence is largely misunderstood.
  • None of the vendor services evaluated in the report measure true influence. Today’s software algorithms track social capital and topical authority based on online activity.
  • The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns.
  • The report evaluates 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for “digital influence” as defined in the report (see image below) – not every service is designed to provide a total solution for every business need.
  • The report includes an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and to define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.

Figure 1. Framework: Pillars of Influence
You can read and download the report from SlideShare here.

And, check out other upcoming Altimeter Group Open Research on our website.

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New Altimeter Report: Enterprise Social Networks

Here at Altimeter Group, we’ve been working over the last six months to publish a slue of open research reports, and the latest comes from Charlene Li, supported by Jon Cifuentes and Alan WebberMaking the Case for Enterprise Social Networks was published last week — a look into how organizations can utilize social networking internally, across the enterprise. It’s the first of two reports that will be published this year that will look into the value offerings of social networks within vs. external to organizations.

A brief report summary is below. To check out the report in-full, visit our SlideShare page.

In 2011, the US hit a milestone — more than half of all adults visit social networking sites at least once a month. But when it comes to using social-networking technologies inside organizations, many business leaders are at a loss to understand what value can be created from Facebook-like status updates within the enterprise. Some organizations have deployed social-networking features with an initial enthusiastic reception, only to see these early efforts wither to just a few stalwart participants. The problem: Most companies approach enterprise social networks as a technology deployment and fail to understand that the new relationships created by enterprise social networks are the source for value creation. In this report, Altimeter looks at four ways enterprise social networks create value for organizations.

As enterprise social networking is a relatively new concept being experimented with, it’s no surprise that organizational maturity is still in its early stages for the majority:

Fig. 4 Most Organizations Are Still Early In Their Social Business Maturity

Additional images from the report can be found in a Flickr set here.

Next on docket for Altimeter is a report that delves into online social influence from analyst Brian Solis. Stay tuned!

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Fresh Research from Altimeter Group – Content: The New Marketing Equation

**Update: Content: The New Marketing Equation is LIVE! http://slidesha.re/TheContentEquation

If you’d like to embed the report, ping me – I’ll shoot the code your way. And, if you’re on Twitter, use the link above and the hash #ContentMarketing to spread the word about the report! …

The day is finally here!

This morning at 10 a.m. PST, Altimeter Group will launch its latest research report – Content: The New Marketing Equation, by Rebecca Lieb. This report is Rebecca’s first with Altimeter Group, as well as for Zak Kirchner and myself as researchers who have supported her throughout the report process.

I am extremely excited for the report to go live. It contains a world of insights for companies who are interested in content marketing. From those just beginning with their strategy, to advanced media moguls, the report’s maturity model, self-audit tool and content channel insights will prove useful for all audiences.

Here’s a sneak peek at the maturity model stages before the report goes live (this post will be updated with the SlideShare link when ready) …

Altimeter Group Content Marketing Maturity Model

Five stages of content marketing maturity:

  1. Stand –  Curiosity and consideration – Not yet practicing content marketing
  2. Stretch –  Advocacy & experimentation – Begin to build strategy and support to publish content
  3. Walk – Strategy & Processes – Solid organizational and strategic foundation, teams formed, metrics introduced
  4. Jog – “Culture of content” – Sustainable, meaningful, scalable content initiatives, broad training organizationally, top-down and bottom-up
  5. Run – Inspired and inspirational (and largely aspirational) – The company actually monetizes its content, which has a separate P&L
Stay tuned via this post or Twitter (@jaimy_marie) for the link the the live report at 10 a.m PST. I’ll also update this post with the embed code, as well as Flickr graphics set.
I’m extremely grateful to have contributed to this report. It was really an Altimeter Group team effort. Congrats on your first report, Rebecca! #GONG
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