Tag Archives: business management

Business Architecture Tweet Jam – March 19

By Patty Donovan, The Open Group

On Tuesday, March 19 at 2:00 p.m. PT/9:00 p.m. BST/Wednesday, March 20 at 8:00 a.m. EDT (Sydney, Australia), The Open Group will host a tweet jam examining the topic of Business Architecture.

Today, Business Architecture is shaping and fostering enterprise transformation initiatives and continuous improvement throughout companies of all sizes. In The Open Group’s 2013 Predictions, Steve Philp, marketing Director for Open CA and Open CITS at The Open Group predicted that Business Architecture would continue to grow in prominence and visibility among executives. According to Steve’s prediction, “there are a number of key technology areas for 2013 where business architects will be called upon to engage with the business such as Cloud Computing, Big Data and social networking.” Steve also predicted that “the need to have competent Business Architects is a high priority in both the developed and emerging markets and the demand for Business Architects currently exceeds the supply.” Steve’s sentiments mirror an industry-wide perspective: It’s certain that Business Architecture will impact enterprises, but to what extent?

This tweet jam, sponsored by The Open Group, will take a step back and allow participants to discuss what the nascent topic of Business Architecture actually means. How is Business Architecture defined? What is the role of the business architect and how does Business Architecture relate to Enterprise Architecture?

Please join us for our upcoming Business Architecture tweet jam where leading experts will discuss this evolving topic.

And for those of you who are unfamiliar with tweet jams, here is some background information:

What Is a Tweet Jam?

A tweet jam is a one hour “discussion” hosted on Twitter. The purpose of the tweet jam is to share knowledge and answer questions on Business Architecture. Each tweet jam is led by a moderator and a dedicated group of experts to keep the discussion flowing. The public (or anyone using Twitter interested in the topic) is encouraged to join the discussion.

Participation Guidance

Whether you’re a newbie or veteran Twitter user, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Have your first #ogChat tweet be a self-introduction: name, affiliation, occupation.
  • Start all other tweets with the question number you’re responding to and the #ogChat hashtag.
    • Sample: “Q1 Business Architecture has different meanings to different people within my organization #ogChat”
    • Please refrain from product or service promotions. The goal of a tweet jam is to encourage an exchange of knowledge and stimulate discussion.
    • While this is a professional get-together, we don’t have to be stiff! Informality will not be an issue!
    • A tweet jam is akin to a public forum, panel discussion or Town Hall meeting – let’s be focused and thoughtful.

If you have any questions prior to the event or would like to join as a participant, please direct them to Rod McLeod (rmcleod at bateman-group dot com). We anticipate a lively chat and hope you will be able to join!

patricia donovanPatricia Donovan is Vice President, Membership & Events, at The Open Group and a member of its executive management team. In this role she is involved in determining the company’s strategic direction and policy as well as the overall management of that business area. Patricia joined The Open Group in 1988 and has played a key role in the organization’s evolution, development and growth since then. She also oversees the company’s marketing, conferences and member meetings. She is based in the U.S.

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“New Now” Planning

By Stuart Boardman, KPN

In my last post I introduced the idea of “the new now,” which I borrowed from Jack Martin Leith. I suggested that the planning of large transformation projects needs to focus more on the first step than on the end goal, because that first step, once taken, will be the “new now” – the reality with which the organization will have to work. There were some interesting comments that have helped me further develop my ideas. I also got pointed, via Twitter to this interesting and completely independent piece that comes to very similar conclusions.

I promised to try to explain how this might work in practice, so it here goes…

As I see it, we would start our transformation program by looking at both the first step and the long term vision more or less in parallel.

In order to establish what that first step should be, we need to ask what we want the “new now” to look like. If we could have a “new now” – right now – what would that be? In other words, what is it that we can’t do at the moment that we believe we really need to be able to do? This is a question that should be asked as broadly as possible across the organization. There are three reasons for that:

  1. We’ll probably come across a variety of opinions and we’ll need to know why they vary and why people think they are important, if we are to define something feasible and useful. It’s also possible that out of this mixture of views something altogether different may emerge.
  2. Changes in the relatively near future will tend to be changes to operational practices and those are best determined and managed by the part of the organization that performs them (see Stafford Beer’s Viable Systems Model and associated work by Patrick Hoverstadt and others).
  3. Everyone’s going to experience the “new now” (that’s why we call it the “new now”), so it would be good not to just drop it on them as if this were a new form of big bang. By involving them now, they’ll have known what’s coming and be more likely to accept it than if they were just “informed.” And at least we’ll know how people will react if the “new now” doesn’t meet their particular wishes.

This process addresses, I hope, both Ron van den Burg’s comment about different people having different “horizons” and an interesting observation made by Mark Skilton at The Open Group Conference in Newport Beach that at any one time an organization may have a large number of “strategies” in play.

The longer term perspective is about vision and strategy. What is the vision of the enterprise and what does it want to become? What are the strategies to achieve that? That’s something typically determined at the highest levels of an organization, even though one might hope these days that the whole organization would be able to contribute. For the moment, we’ll regard it as a board decision.

Maybe the board is perfectly happy and doesn’t need to change the vision or strategy. In that case we’re not talking about transformation, so let’s assume they do see a need to change something. A strategic change doesn’t necessarily have to affect the entire organization. It may be that the way a particular aspect of the enterprise’s mission is performed needs to be changed. Nonetheless if it’s at a strategic level it’s going to involve a transformation.

Now we can lay the “new now” and the long term vision next to each other and see how well they fit. Is the first step indeed a step towards the vision? If not we need to understand why. Traditionally we would tend to say the first step must then be wrong. That’s a possibility but it’s equally possible that the long-term view is simply too long-term and is missing key facts about the organization. The fact alone that the two don’t fit may indicate a disconnect within the organization and require a different change altogether. So simply by performing this action, we are addressing one of the risks to a transformation project. If we had simply defined the first step based on the long term vision, we’d probably have missed it. If, however, the fit is indeed good, then we know we have organizational buy-in for the transformation.

Once we have broad alignment, we need to re-examine the first step for feasibility. It mustn’t be more ambitious than we can deliver within a reasonable time and budget. Nothing new there. What is different is that while we require the first step to be aware of the long term vision, we don’t expect it to put a platform in place for everything the future may bring. That’s exactly what it shouldn’t do, because the only thing we know for certain is that we need to be adaptable to change

What about the second step? We’ve delivered the first step. We’re at the “new now.” How does that feel? Where would we like to be now? This essentially an iteration over the process we used for the first step. There’s a strong chance that we’ll get a different result than we would have had, if we’d planned this second step back at the beginning. After all, we have a new “now,” so our starting state is something that we couldn’t experience back then. We also need to revisit the vision/strategy aspect. The world (the Environment in VSM terms) will not have stood still in the meantime. One would hope that our vision wasn’t so fragile that it would change drastically but at the very least we need to re-validate it.

So now we can compare the new next step and the (revised) vision, just as we did with our first step. And then we move on.

So what this process comes down to is essentially a series of movements to a “new now.” After each movement we have a new reality. So yes, we’re still planning. We’re just not making hard plans for fuzzy objectives. Our planning process is as flexible as our results need to be. Of course that doesn’t mean we can’t start thinking about step two before we actually arrive at step one but these plans only become concrete when we know what the “new now” feels like and therefore exactly what the following “new now” should be.

In their comments on the previous blog both Matt Kern and Peter Bakker made the reasonable points that without a plan, you’re probably not going to get funding. The other side of the coin is that these days (and actually for a few years now) it’s increasingly difficult to get funding for multi-year transformation processes, exactly because the return on investment takes too long – and is too uncertain. That’s exactly what I’m trying to address. The fundamental concept of “new now” planning is that something of agreed value is delivered within an acceptable timescale. Isn’t that more likely to get funding?

Once again, I’d be delighted to see people’s reaction to these ideas. I’m 100 percent certain they can be improved.

Stuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN where he co-leads the Enterprise Architecture practice as well as the Cloud Computing solutions group. He is co-lead of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Cloud, SOA, and Identity. 

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The Death of Planning

By Stuart Boardman, KPN

If I were to announce that planning large scale transformation projects was a waste of time, you’d probably think I’d taken leave of my senses. And yet, somehow this thought has been nagging at me for some time now. Bear with me.

It’s not so long ago that we still had debates about whether complex projects should be delivered as a “big bang” or in phases. These days the big bang has pretty much been forgotten. Why is that? I think the main reason is the level of risk involved with running a long process and dropping it into the operational environment just like that. This applies to any significant change, whether related to a business model and processes or IT architecture or physical building developments. Even if it all works properly, the level of sudden organizational change involved may stop it in its tracks.

So it has become normal to plan the change as a series of phases. We develop a roadmap to get us from here (as-is) to the end goal (to-be). And this is where I begin to identify the problem.

A few months ago I spent an enjoyable and thought provoking day with Jack Martin Leith (@jackmartinleith). Jack is a master in demystifying clichés but when he announced his irritation with “change is a journey,” I could only respond, “but Jack, it is.” What Jack made me see is that, whilst the original usage was a useful insight, it’s become a cliché which is commonly completely misused. It results in some pretty frustrating journeys! To understand that let’s take the analogy literally. Suppose your objective is to travel to San Diego but there are no direct flights from where you live. If the first step on your journey is a 4 hour layover at JFK, that’s at best a waste of your time and energy. There’s no value in this step. A day in Manhattan might be a different story. We can (and do) deal with this kind of thing for journeys of a day or so but imagine a journey that takes three or more years and all you see on the way is the inside of airports.

My experience has been that the same problem too often manifests itself in transformation programs. The first step may be logical from an implementation perspective, but it delivers no discernible value (tangible or intangible). It’s simply a validation that something has been done, as if, in our travel analogy, we were celebrating travelling the first 1000 kilometers, even if that put us somewhere over the middle of Lake Erie.

What would be better? An obvious conclusion that many have drawn is that we need to ensure every step delivers business value but that’s easier said than done.

Why is it so hard? The next thing Jack said helped me understand why. His point is that when you’ve taken the first step on your journey, it’s not just some intermediate station. It’s the “new now.” The new reality. The new as-is. And if the new reality is hanging around in some grotty airport trying to do your job via a Wi-Fi connection of dubious security and spending too much money on coffee and cookies…….you get the picture.

The problem with identifying that business value is that we’re not focusing on the new now but on something much more long-term. We’re trying to interpolate the near term business value out of the long term goal, which wasn’t defined based on near term needs.

What makes this all the more urgent is the increasing rate and unpredictability of change – in all aspects of doing business. This has led us to shorter planning horizons and an increasing tendency to regard that “to be” as nothing more than a general sense of direction. We’re thinking, “If we could deliver the whole thing really, really quickly on the basis of what we know we’d like to be able to do now, if it were possible, then it would look like this” – but knowing all the time that by the time we get anywhere near that end goal, it will have changed. It’s pretty obvious then that a first step, whose justification is entirely based on that imagined end goal, can easily be of extremely limited value.

So why not put more focus on the first step? That’s going to be the “new now.” How about making that our real target? Something that the enterprise sees as real value and that is actually feasible in a reasonable time scale (whatever that is). Instead of scoping that step as an intermediate (and rather immature) layover, why not put all our efforts into making it something really good? And when we get there and people know how the new now looks and feels, we can all think afresh about where to go next. After all, a journey is not simply defined by its destination but by how you get there and what you see and do on the way. If the actual journey itself is valuable, we may not want to get to the end of it.

Now that doesn’t mean we have to forget all about where we might want to be in three or even five years — not at all. The long term view is still important in helping us to make smart decisions about shorter term changes. It helps us allow for future change, even if only because it lets us see how much might change. And that helps us make sound decisions. But we should accept that our three or five year horizon needs to be continually open to revision – not on some artificial yearly cycle but every time there’s a “new now.” And this needs to include the times where the new now is not something we planned but is an emergent development from within or outside of the enterprise or is due to a major regulatory or market change.

So, if the focus is all on the first step and if our innovation cycle is getting steadily shorter, what’s the value of planning anything? Relax, I’m not about to fire the entire planning profession. If you don’t plan how you’re going to do something, what your dependencies are, how to react to the unexpected, etc., you’re unlikely to achieve your goal at all. Arguably that’s just project planning.

What about program planning? Well, if the program is so exposed to change maybe our concept of program planning needs to change. Instead of the plan being a thing fixed in stone that dictates everything, it could become a process in which the whole enterprise participates – itself open to emergence. The more I think about it, the more appealing that idea seems.

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about how this might work, in particular from the perspective of Enterprise Architecture. I’ll also look more at how “the new planning” relates to innovation, emergence and social business and at the conflicts and synergies between these concerns. In the meantime, feel free to throw stones and see where the story doesn’t hold up.

Stuart Boardman is a Senior Business Consultant with KPN where he co-leads the Enterprise Architecture practice as well as the Cloud Computing solutions group. He is co-lead of The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group’s Security for the Cloud and SOA project and a founding member of both The Open Group Cloud Computing Work Group and The Open Group SOA Work Group. Stuart is the author of publications by the Information Security Platform (PvIB) in The Netherlands and of his previous employer, CGI. He is a frequent speaker at conferences on the topics of Cloud, SOA, and Identity. 

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Different Words Mean Different Things, Part 1

By Leonard Fehskens, The Open Group

Over on the LinkedIn Enterprise Architecture Network discussion group there is a thread on the relationship between Enterprise Architecture (EA) and Business Architecture that as of late November 2012 had run to over 4100 comments.

Some of the sprawl of this thread is due to the usual lack of discipline in staying on topic.  Some of it is due to the rehashing of well-worn themes as newcomers arrive.  It seems clear to me though, that even when long time contributors try to move the subject forward, a lot of the back and forth that fails to converge is a consequence of the community’s lack of an appropriate and widely shared vocabulary.

In particular, there are four words that many in the Enterprise and Business Architecture communities seem to use interchangeably – enterprise, business, organization and corporation.

Before I tackle this subject, there is some context I should provide.

First, people who know me consider me to be obsessive about the precise use of language, and they’re right.  I think of Enterprise Architecture as more a craft than a science, and as such, the language we use to express it is ordinary language (as opposed to, for example, mathematics).  To me it follows that it is especially important that we use that language carefully.

Second, I’m coming at this from the perspective of creating a profession and its supporting ecosystem.  I believe a profession should be broadly applicable, with specializations within the profession addressing more narrowly focused concerns.

Finally, though much of the discussion about Enterprise Architecture is in English, I acknowledge that for a large fraction of the community English is a second (or third) language.  So, while this post is specifically about English usage, I suspect much of it applies as well to other languages, and I don’t want to imply that the conventions of English usage are the only ones worthy of consideration.

That’s enough by way of preamble.

The EA community may not have agreed upon definitions of many of the words it uses, but as these words are drawn from the vernacular, the rest of the world does.  This conventional usage makes clear distinctions between enterprise, business, organization and corporation.

While it is true that these words all have some sense in which they are roughly synonymous, they have primary definitions that distinguish them from one another.  I think we ought to observe these distinctions because they are useful, especially in that they allow us to sensibly relate the concepts they represent to one another, and they do not needlessly foreclose the broader application of these concepts.

First, I’m going to propose definitions for these words to be used in the context of Enterprise Architecture.  Then I’m going to look at what these definitions imply about the relationships between the things these words denote, and how the current usage obscures or denies these relationships.

It’s very possible, if not likely, that you will not agree with these definitions.  I’ll deal with that later.

Enterprise

The Oxford English Dictionary (Compact Edition, 1971) defines “enterprise” as:

Derived from the French entreprendre, “to take in hand, undertake”.

    1. A design of which the execution is attempted; a piece of work taken in hand, an undertaking; chiefly, and now exclusively, a bold, arduous, or momentous undertaking.
      • b. engagement in such undertaking
    2. Disposition or readiness to engage in undertakings of difficulty, risk, or danger; daring spirit.
    3. The action of taking in hand; management, superintendence. Obsolete.

So, enterprise means “undertaking” or “endeavor,” especially one that is relatively ambitious.  Implicit in this concept of enterprise is the intentional action of one of more people.  It is intentional in the sense that the action is intended to achieve some outcome.  The role of people is important; we do not generally consider machines, regardless of their purpose, to exhibit “enterprise” in this sense.  For me, the essential properties of an enterprise are people and their activity in pursuit of explicit intent.

This is a deliberately, very broadly inclusive concept of enterprise.  All of the following are, in my opinion, enterprises:

  • A child’s lemonade stand
  • A club
  • A professional society
  • A committee or working group
  • A town, state or country government
  • An international/multinational coalition
  • A military unit
  • A department or ministry of defense
  • A for-profit, non-profit or not-for-profit corporation
  • A partnership
  • A consortium
  • A church
  • A university or college
  • A hospital

Business

English speakers commonly use the word “business” to mean three things, and are usually able to infer the intended meaning from context.  These three common meanings of business are:

Business-as-commerce: The exchange of goods and services for some form of compensation for the costs and risks of doing so.

Business-as-commercial-entity: An entity whose primary activity is the conduct of some form of business-as-commerce.  In colloquial terms, the primary purpose of such an entity is to “make money”, and if it does not “make money” it will “go out of business.”

Business-as-primary-concern: The primary concern or activity of some entity.

These three different commonly understood meanings of business make it possible for someone to say something like:

“The business of my business is business.”

I.e., “The business-as-primary-concern of my business-as-commercial-entity is business-as-commerce.”

Organization

An “organization” is a structured (i.e., “organized”) group of people and resources, usually acting in concert to achieve some shared purpose.

Corporation

Finally, a “corporation” is an organization structured and operated in a particular way so as to satisfy certain legal constraints and thus benefit from the legal consequences of that conformance.  Strictly speaking, a corporation is a legal entity that has an organization associated with it.  In the case of a “shell” or “dummy” corporation, the associated organization’s people and resources may be minimal.

Observations

Based on these definitions, one can make some observations.

An organization is typically the means by which an enterprise is realized.  Small scale enterprises may be realized by a single individual, which is a trivial case of an organization.

Not all organizations are business-as-commercial-entities.  Organizations that are not businesses will almost certainly conduct some business-as-commerce as an adjunct activity in support of their primary intent.

Not all enterprises have as their intent some form of business-as-commerce. An organization that realizes such an enterprise will not be a business-as-commercial-entity.  While all business-as-commercial-entities realize an enterprise, not all enterprises are realized by business-as-commercial-entities.

Not all organizations are corporations.

Not all business-as-commercial-entities are corporations.

These relationships are depicted below.

 Len diagram

This is a three-part series that discusses how our vocabulary affects the way we conceptualize Enterprise Architecture, Business Architecture and their relationship.  Part 2 will examine the effect of our definition of enterprise on how we think about EA. 

 Len Fehskens is Vice President of Skills and Capabilities at The Open GroupHe is responsible for The Open Group’s activities relating to the professionalization of the discipline of enterprise architecture. Prior to joining The Open Group, Len led the Worldwide Architecture Profession Office for HP Services at Hewlett-Packard. He majored in Computer Science at MIT, and has over 40 years of experience in the IT business as both an individual contributor and a manager, within both product engineering and services business units. Len has worked for Digital Equipment Corporation, Data General Corporation, Prime Computer, Compaq and Hewlett Packard.  He is the lead inventor on six software patents on the object oriented management of distributed systems.

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Data Protection Today and What’s Needed Tomorrow

By Ian Dobson and Jim Hietala, The Open Group

Technology today allows thieves to copy sensitive data, leaving the original in place and thus avoiding detection. One needn’t look far in today’s headlines to understand why protection of data is critical going forward. As this recent article from Bloomberg points out, penetrations of corporate IT systems with the aim to extract sensitive information, IP and other corporate data are rampant.  Despite the existence of data breach and data privacy laws in the U.S., EU and elsewhere, this issue is still not well publicized. The article cites specific intrusions at large consumer products companies, the EU, itself, law firms and a nuclear power plant.

Published in October 2012, the Jericho Forum® Data Protection white paper reviews the state of data protection today and where it should be heading to meet tomorrow’s business needs. The Open Group’s Jericho Forum contends that future data protection solutions must aim to provide stronger, more flexible protection mechanisms around the data itself.

The white paper argues that some of the current issues with data protection are:

  • It is too global and remote to be effective
  • Protection is neither granular nor interoperable enough
  • It’s not integrated with Centralized Authorization Services
  • Weak security services are relied on for enforcement

Refreshingly, it explains not only why, but also how. The white paper reviews the key issues surrounding data protection today; describes properties that data protection mechanisms should include to meet current and future requirements; considers why current technologies don’t deliver what is required; and proposes a set of data protection principles to guide the design of effective solutions.

It goes on to describe how data protection has evolved to where it’s at today, and outlines a series of target stages for progressively moving the industry forward to deliver stronger more flexible protection solutions that business managers are already demanding their IT systems managers provide.  Businesses require these solutions to ensure appropriate data protection levels are wrapped around the rapidly increasing volumes of confidential information that is shared with their business partners, suppliers, customers and outworkers/contractors on a daily basis.

Having mapped out an evolutionary path for what we need to achieve to move data protection forward in the direction our industry needs, we’re now planning optimum approaches for how to achieve each successive stage of protection. The Jericho Forum welcomes folks who want to join us in this important journey.

 

Ian Dobson is the director of the Security Forum and the Jericho Forum for The Open Group, coordinating and facilitating the members to achieve their goals in our challenging information security world.  In the Security Forum, his focus is on supporting development of open standards and guides on security architectures and management of risk and security, while in the Jericho Forum he works with members to anticipate the requirements for the security solutions we will need in future.

Jim Hietala, CISSP, GSEC, is the Vice President, Security for The Open Group, where he manages all IT security and risk management programs and standards activities. He participates in the SANS Analyst/Expert program and has also published numerous articles on information security, risk management, and compliance topics in publications including The ISSA Journal, Bank Accounting & Finance, Risk Factor, SC Magazine, and others.

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Enterprise Architecture: Helping to unravel the emergence of new forces

By Raghuraman Krishnamurthy, Cognizant Technology Solutions

It is very interesting to see how the society changes with time. Primitive society was predominantly agrarian. Society was closely knit; the people worked in well-defined land boundaries. Trade was happening but was limited to the adventurous few.

In the 1700s, as Europe began to explore the world in a well-organized manner, the need for industrial enterprises emerged. Industries offered greater stability in jobs as opposed to being at the mercy of vagaries of nature in the agrarian world. People slowly migrated to centres of industries, and the cities emerged. The work was accomplished by well-established principles of time and materials: in one hour, a worker was supposed to assemble ‘x’ components following a set, mechanical way of working. As society further evolved, a lot of information was exchanged and thoughts of optimization began to surface. Ways of storing and processing the information became predominant in the pursuits of creative minds. Computer systems ushered in new possibilities.

With the emergence of the Internet, unimagined new avenues opened up. In one stroke, it was possible to transcend the constraints of time and space. Free flow of information enabled ‘leveling’ of the world in some sense. Enterprises began to take advantage of it by following the principle of ‘get the best work from where it is possible’. Established notions for a big enterprise like well-organized labor, building of mammoth physical structures, etc., were challenged.

In the creative world of today, great emphasis is on innovation and new socially/environmentally-conscious ways of doing business.

At every turn from agrarian to industrial to informative to creative, fundamental changes occurred in how business was done and in the principles of business management. These changes, although seemingly unrelated to a field like Enterprise Architecture, will help unravel the emergence of new forces and the need to adjust (if you are reactive) or plan for (if you are proactive) these forces.

Learning from how manufacturing companies have adjusted their supply chain management to live in the flat world provides a valuable key to how Enterprise Architecture can be looked afresh. I am very excited to explore more of this theme and other topics in The Open Group India Conference in Hyderabad (March 9), Pune (March 11) and Chennai (March 7). I look forward to seeing you there and having interesting discussions amongst us.

Raghuraman Krishnamurthy works as a Principal Architect in Cognizant Technology Solutions and is based in India. He can be reached at Raghuraman.krishnamurthy2@cognizant.com.

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