Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist

British Telecom’s Partnership with Juniper Networks

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Headshot - Blake Morgan
Side-by-side photographs of host Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, and Neil McRae, Managing Director of Architecture, British Telecom Group, as they discuss British Telecom’s partnership with Juniper Networks.

Why British Telecom sticks with Juniper Networks

British Telecom’s Neil McRae understands how much customers depend on their phones, whether at a baseball game or in the office. Here, McRae explains how Juniper helps BT create a reliable network experience and seamless digital journey for customers.  

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You’ll learn

  • Why British Telecom chose to work with Juniper Networks above all others 

  • How Juniper technology platforms help improve the user experience for BT customers

  • How BT architects the network to reduce complexity in the face of changing customer expectations

Who is this for?

Network Professionals Business Leaders


Headshot - Blake Morgan
Blake Morgan
Customer Experience Futurist

Guest speakers

Neil McRae Headshot
Neil McRae
Managing Director of Architecture, British Telecom Group


00:05 today we have with us neil mcrae

00:08 managing director of architecture and

00:10 strategy for british telecom group he's

00:12 the chief architect

00:14 neil welcome how are you doing today

00:16 i'm great blake very inspired by your uh

00:19 presentation and and i

00:21 you know i used to thought i think i was

00:23 customer focused but i've learned a lot

00:25 in 20 minutes

00:28 wow thank you so much for that um you've

00:30 had a really long standing partnership

00:32 with juniper

00:34 um it's helped british telecom quite a

00:36 bit i've heard can you talk about the

00:38 background of the partnership and why

00:40 you chose to work with juniper networks

00:44 look yeah i mean pt's been working with

00:46 uh juniper networks i mean literally

00:48 since juniper started as a

00:51 a as a as a company

00:53 that set out to change the network in

00:56 business and be much more customer

00:58 focused

01:00 um you know the back back when juniper

01:02 started there wasn't a lot of choice

01:04 there wasn't

01:05 um there wasn't the choices that we have

01:07 today and and frankly there was a an

01:10 incumbent that wasn't doing as great a

01:11 job as as actually the network needed

01:14 um and for us to work with juniper was

01:17 was really easy because they were

01:20 focused on customer outcomes and

01:22 customer experiences

01:23 and improving the the offer that we as

01:26 telecommunication

01:28 operators make

01:30 and made it very easy for us to work

01:32 with them and not only that

01:34 and back to your point about listening

01:36 to your customers

01:37 having worked with juniper over over

01:40 you know 10 15 years now juniper are

01:43 huge listeners and will take ideas from

01:46 customers even even ideas that are maybe

01:48 perhaps a little bit borderline

01:51 and you know take a risk and

01:53 and co-collaborate with with with our

01:55 customers to build something that makes

01:57 a big difference to our customers and as

02:00 and you're right to say blake well our

02:02 relationship with juniper is b2b

02:05 but my customers are all b2c

02:09 awesome so you've got a little elon musk

02:11 and you know taking those taking that

02:13 those customer ideas and really actually

02:15 doing something with them

02:17 yeah i mean i think customers are the

02:19 experts of using our service and and you

02:23 know quite often we're focused in

02:25 particular in telco land of you know how

02:27 do we sell it and then how do we build

02:29 it

02:30 actually the biggest part of the service

02:32 we offer blake is how do customers use

02:34 our service you know how do they take

02:36 their smartphone out how what experience

02:38 are they getting wherever they are

02:41 be it at home be it on the move be it at

02:44 work and we want to understand

02:47 every detail of what they're doing

02:49 understand how we can improve that

02:51 experience and all manners of

02:54 of what our customers are doing and and

02:57 you know the platform that juniper

02:59 announcing today

03:00 really allows us to do that and get much

03:02 more insight and actually go a step

03:04 further blake which is actually how do

03:07 we predict what our customers are going

03:09 to ask us for

03:10 before before they ask it and and turn

03:13 that into a actually customer here's

03:15 something you didn't think you need but

03:17 now you've got it

03:18 you'll never be able to live without it

03:20 and that's that's the kind of customer

03:22 experience journey at bt we're trying to

03:24 deliver and with the platform juniper

03:26 announced today that really helps us on

03:29 that journey

03:31 right because it's really about

03:32 anticipating the need of the customer

03:34 and personalizing it because

03:36 neil you and i know that feels amazing

03:39 when a company has done the extra

03:41 legwork to think

03:42 what might we need next where are we

03:45 going um let's talk about customer

03:47 experience in telco and telecom

03:50 we know when our networks don't work

03:52 well you know this is a very tough

03:54 industry from what i hear

03:56 can you talk about what a great customer

03:58 experience in telecom looks like and how

04:00 has that changed over the years

04:03 yeah i mean i think a great question

04:05 blake i mean

04:06 the way i look at it is you know

04:09 and the way i picture service in my head

04:12 is

04:13 you know when you go to a kind of a

04:14 really top hotel

04:16 and you ask for a cup of coffee

04:19 and then mysteriously the cup of coffee

04:21 appears you just you know it's almost

04:23 like it it's almost like it was beamed

04:25 in from somewhere versus you know a not

04:28 so great place where you hear 15 people

04:31 shouting fred wants a coffee jake once

04:33 you know and you hear all this kind of

04:35 noise and and they spill it as as

04:37 they're walking out what the experience

04:39 that we're trying to build in in telco

04:41 and mbt

04:42 is very much that when you when you need

04:44 something it's there it's available you

04:47 know how to use it and and and the

04:50 expectation that that you need we've

04:53 already anticipated now we've got a long

04:55 way to go

04:56 we've you know we've we've

04:58 we've made telco too complex

05:01 we've given you too much choice we've

05:03 tried to be

05:04 smart and giving too many choices when

05:06 actually keeping it simple and focusing

05:09 on the areas of value that customers

05:11 want you know most customers want to

05:14 know how much data can i use or actually

05:16 can i use my phone without worrying

05:18 about build shock you know we've we've

05:20 worked to

05:21 to in that direction hugely but also we

05:25 actually want to extend

05:27 what we do into

05:29 your daily life even more so you know

05:31 many people think what's you know what

05:33 is a partner is a telco play if i buy a

05:36 a ticket to a baseball game

05:38 and and actually what we want to do is

05:41 from the minute we know that you've

05:42 bought a ticket to that game to when

05:44 you're seated in this in the baseball

05:46 stadium watching the game and you've got

05:49 a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the

05:51 other hand we want to optimize the

05:53 network and optimize that whole

05:55 experience

05:56 from the minute you leave your home to

05:58 the minute the game ends and and again

06:00 the platform that juniper's building

06:02 gives us that insight as to how do

06:04 people behave in in a baseball stadium

06:07 how do people

06:08 want to get

06:09 information delivered to them how do

06:12 they want to actually get to the stadium

06:13 how do they want to leave and we've got

06:15 a huge amount of data on insight blake

06:18 that we can use

06:19 to to not just improve the service for

06:21 us but to partner with that stadium that

06:24 improves that whole experience of going

06:26 to a baseball game

06:28 yeah because now neil the the phone is

06:30 part of the experience of the game like

06:32 if you left your phone at home and

06:34 you're at a baseball game i would think

06:37 that would be a huge tragedy

06:39 yeah you you probably your tickets are

06:41 probably on it your your you know uber

06:43 app to get there and backs probably on

06:45 it or you know you're if you're meeting

06:48 friends how do they know where to meet

06:49 you

06:50 you know there is and you you know if

06:52 you're using a payment scheme that's on

06:54 your phone you know you we've become

06:56 so dependent upon these devices that you

06:59 know and

07:01 that when we don't have them it's very

07:03 challenging but you know we're all about

07:06 trying to understand what the behaviors

07:08 are and using that knowledge to make the

07:10 next step of every customer or every

07:13 every end user's journey a much easier

07:16 step and and you know we've we've had

07:18 some great successes but you know i talk

07:20 about baseball as an example here in the

07:22 uk you know soccer's the big sport here

07:25 at wembley stadium the the the scenario

07:28 that i just envisioned we've actually

07:29 deployed that we optimize our network

07:31 from when people get off the train

07:34 at wembley station

07:36 all the way into the stadium and all the

07:37 way back out and yes it does require you

07:40 you need you need your handset um but i

07:42 think you know the the

07:44 that's that's one part of where we're

07:47 headed in customer experience the other

07:49 part of customer experience is actually

07:51 using the network in these venues in a

07:53 much more in-depth way to improve every

07:57 aspect of that experience as as a whole

07:59 be it be how you buy your beer to the

08:03 information that's displayed you know if

08:05 if if if you know we've been even

08:08 talking with you if you know that you've

08:09 got a relative or a special guest in in

08:12 the in the stadium put some messages up

08:15 on the displays to to recognize that

08:17 that people are there and it's really

08:19 easy for us to do that

08:21 if we've got the insight and if we get

08:23 that data from a platform

08:25 um like the insight platform that

08:27 juniper are talking about today

08:29 yeah because you know a kisscam moment

08:31 that could make the whole experience for

08:33 everyone in the stadium 20 000 people

08:36 in all honesty i'm thinking about soccer

08:39 in europe because i've been watching a

08:41 lot of ted lasso along with every other

08:43 american so i'm glad we're talking about

08:46 sports right now and let's talk about

08:48 automation

08:50 automation is a really hot topic right

08:52 now but

08:53 it's so important as we think as i.t

08:55 professionals and about technology how

08:57 to balance

08:59 the human element which is so important

09:01 and incorporate that into how we build

09:03 experiences so how are you balancing

09:06 automation and ai and how are you

09:09 maintaining that human element in

09:11 everything that you build

09:14 yeah i mean

09:15 i think your your

09:16 your point about listening to your

09:18 customers is really important here that

09:20 you know we have customers that never

09:21 want to talk to our machine and we and

09:23 we can identify them and we can we can

09:25 build journeys for them but we have

09:27 other customers as you say that never

09:29 want to talk to a human they just want

09:31 to be able to press a button or make

09:33 something happen and we build journeys

09:35 you know

09:36 multi-directional journeys through our

09:38 through our it

09:40 and and and understand and personalize

09:42 that so our own you know our mye app on

09:45 our on that you get with a phone when

09:47 you buy it from us can help you decide

09:49 that journey

09:50 automation for us though

09:52 is is how do we

09:54 how do we run and maintain the network

09:56 whilst and give no interruption to to

09:59 customers so through the pandemic you

10:01 know more of us became much more reliant

10:03 on the network and it was all about how

10:05 do we build and grow and change the

10:08 network in a way that customers never

10:11 ever

10:11 feel that we've that we've done it and

10:13 and that was crucially important during

10:16 the pandemic and we learned the huge um

10:18 about automation and the ways to deploy

10:21 it but also a different mindset about

10:23 how do you build for automation how do

10:25 you build for the experience where in a

10:28 world where everyone was dependent upon

10:30 network it just can't not be there so

10:32 that really changed our thinking and

10:34 actually in some respects the pandemic

10:36 made us think differently than what we

10:39 would have done and brought things

10:40 forward and because because people were

10:43 relying upon us in a bigger way than

10:45 than we ever imagined

10:47 absolutely i think during covet

10:49 i think it's a silver lining for

10:52 customer experience and for the whole

10:54 business world that we had to be more

10:56 digital we had to think about the

10:59 digital customer using our network

11:01 focusing more on online communication

11:04 and we had to really beef up what we

11:06 were doing and i think that it's for me

11:08 the one positive because of course you

11:10 and i have been advocates for customer

11:12 experience in digital for many many

11:13 years

11:14 and now we've learned okay we can

11:16 provide so many more experiences

11:18 digitally than we thought we could

11:20 let's talk about

11:22 keeping things easy for customers and

11:25 simple

11:26 you've talked about the fact that

11:28 customers don't really like complication

11:31 how do you architect the network to make

11:34 sure that you're reducing complexity

11:37 even though customer expectations are

11:39 constantly changing so we're in a very

11:41 complex world but we have to keep things

11:43 simple so how would you recommend others

11:46 do that

11:47 and yeah i mean that's a great question

11:50 i think

11:51 in my mind you know i always try and put

11:53 myself into customer shoes you know

11:56 what type of customer what type of

11:58 persona is this customer can we what

12:00 data do we know about this customer what

12:03 you know who in our organization is like

12:05 this customer that we're trying to we're

12:07 trying to work with and then and then

12:09 from that build um the kind of

12:12 here here is what we predict around this

12:14 customer here's what we've seen before

12:16 here's what you know and and in covert

12:18 we went back to previous um data to know

12:22 how is the network going to perform as

12:24 as effectively the traffic doubled and

12:27 the busy period of our network moved

12:28 from the evening to the day because

12:31 everybody was at home uh whilst lockdown

12:33 was on so it was all about using data

12:36 and insight about how our customers

12:39 behave how the network behaves and

12:41 actually reaching out to our partners

12:42 like juniper and some of our other

12:44 partners on the content side people like

12:46 netflix and saying hey we think we're

12:48 going to see this what do you think and

12:50 and and actually i think customers

12:52 appreciate it when you understand who

12:55 they

12:56 use in their ecosystem each customer has

12:58 its own individual ecosystem and the

13:00 more that you can predict around that

13:01 ecosystem and the more that you can

13:03 they'll build your own bridge in that

13:05 ecosystem then so much the better and

13:07 and you know one one simple thing that

13:09 we did that was huge

13:11 um during the pandemic we connected all

13:14 of the alexas that are on our network to

13:16 be able to use our phone system so you

13:18 could dial from alexa um and and it and

13:21 that for some some of our customers was

13:23 massive because it was an easy way for

13:25 people to to chat and communicate and if

13:28 you had the alexa with screen you could

13:29 you could do video conferencing as well

13:31 and and we recognized that that was

13:33 valuable because we could see those

13:34 relationships and and what people were

13:36 doing in the network

13:38 yeah alexa on video actually babysat my

13:42 daughter because my daughter i was

13:43 pregnant my daughter was home from

13:45 preschool because they were closed and

13:46 so and we had no family around so

13:48 grandma would

13:50 and grandpa would entertain my daughter

13:52 through the alexa echo on video and

13:54 honestly it really helped a lot one hour

13:57 a day i knew that i had that help for my

13:59 daughter to teach her how to read um

14:01 let's talk about the evolving role of

14:03 telco companies i mean telecom is a

14:06 tough space customers demand these

14:09 seamless zero for

14:11 zero friction customer experiences how

14:13 has telecom

14:15 how has it evolved changed what are your

14:17 predictions

14:19 yeah predictions i mean i've i think how

14:21 has it changed i think we've realized

14:23 that

14:24 you know telecoms was very much our

14:27 milk the cow business you know you had a

14:29 cash cow

14:30 and you and you milked it for you could

14:32 get i think what we've realized

14:34 certainly over the last three or four

14:36 years and and certainly being

14:37 accelerated by the pandemic that

14:39 actually we've got to innovate and work

14:41 with our customers be it business or

14:43 consumers we've got to do much about

14:46 being there for them and in some

14:48 respects we've allowed competing

14:50 companies you could argue you know a lot

14:52 of people argue that the hyperscalers

14:53 are big telecommunication um you know

14:56 competitors i actually think they're

14:58 partners um but you know people say that

15:01 well you've you know you've kind of been

15:03 milking your car whilst these guys have

15:05 been going out you know building huge

15:07 huge platforms to take your customers

15:10 away so you know we've learned that you

15:12 know you've got to move with customers

15:14 and actually to some extent you you

15:16 might also have to push customers along

15:18 a little bit because for their own good

15:21 and understanding what technology and

15:23 what the power of telecommunications can

15:24 do for them both individually but also

15:27 as businesses and and that

15:29 co-collaboration and building um

15:32 solutions with customers has become

15:34 hugely important and my prediction is

15:38 you know i i see us i see the network

15:40 becoming more and more part of our daily

15:42 lives uh we talk about clarify i talk

15:44 about networkify which is

15:47 the network enabling new experiences for

15:49 people that just wouldn't have been

15:50 possible before one of my proudest

15:52 moments was um a group of buskers and

15:56 and artists during the pandemic

15:58 came together to put a song

16:00 about 100 of them to put a song together

16:03 over the network to raise money for for

16:06 covered research and charity and that

16:08 would never have happened without the

16:10 network um and it's a phenomenal thing

16:12 and and you know those sort of

16:14 experiences i want to see more and more

16:16 of them i want that to be a daily norm

16:18 that we see people like that coming

16:19 together to really um provide

16:22 experiences that only the network can

16:25 provide and and then and then taking

16:27 that forward i think we'll see

16:29 the network becoming more important in

16:30 healthcare i see we'll

16:33 we'll see the network becoming more and

16:34 more important in transportation

16:36 and actually everything that we do i

16:38 think the network will become more

16:39 important and i'm i'm super excited

16:41 about that but it means that we need

16:42 that insight we need to know what's

16:44 happening in the network so that we can

16:46 build it scale it grow it run it and

16:49 give it customers that excellent

16:50 experience so actually blake

16:53 they're not thinking about the

16:54 telecommunication provider because

16:56 everything's running really smoothly

16:58 that's that's kind of my my vision

17:02 neil i think that the things you're

17:04 saying today will resonate with

17:05 everybody watching because we're all

17:07 dealing with increased complexity while

17:10 customers have more expectations from us

17:12 and we have to deliver on the

17:13 expectation and almost be like a

17:15 magician like i talked about working in

17:17 the background where customers don't

17:19 really think about us but everything is

17:21 just magically working and that's all

17:23 they care about neil i want to thank you

17:25 for being with us today to share some of

17:27 your insights about your work and your

17:29 partnership with

17:30 juniper you're welcome thanks blake

17:34 actually um neil if you have a couple

17:36 minutes uh we do have some questions

17:38 from the from the analysts um so let me

17:40 uh just kind of fire a few at you um you

17:43 know first of all the first question is

17:46 delivering a differentiated experience

17:47 is certainly a priority for operators

17:49 like bt but also a challenge and you

17:51 talked a little bit about about that why

17:53 is it a challenge and what what is bt

17:55 doing about it to change that challenge

17:58 yeah i mean it's a challenge for for

18:00 many reasons it can be as simple as i

18:02 don't have coverage where i'm going or

18:04 where i need to be and and you know we

18:06 continually uh build out coverage and

18:08 capability but it can also be around how

18:11 their

18:12 device works i you know in the network

18:15 you know some people are super technical

18:17 some people aren't and and one of the

18:19 things we're doing you know we stood up

18:21 um again

18:23 we did this just ahead of the pandemic

18:25 so in some respects perhaps lucky but we

18:26 stood up and a bunch of tech areas that

18:30 allow our customers to understand and be

18:33 educated on how they get the most out of

18:35 the network for us our biggest challenge

18:37 is you know and and i'll

18:40 this won't surprise anybody but it's

18:42 about skill sets and and hiring people

18:45 have got great technical knowledge think

18:47 customer first think security first and

18:50 and and think

18:52 you know how they can build stuff that

18:54 innovates and makes a difference and

18:55 uses the network to do it so

18:57 from from my perspective the the biggest

19:00 challenge is

19:01 is is getting those skills in and on

19:04 board and being active to build what our

19:07 customers are demanding from us

19:09 that makes a lot of sense and certainly

19:10 it's a it's a major shift for for a lot

19:12 of us that are moving in this direction

19:14 another question and you heard a little

19:16 bit this morning about our focus around

19:19 ai how aggressive is bt with ai and how

19:21 do you balance that with possibly

19:24 disrupting customer experience

19:26 yeah luca i think um

19:29 you've got to experiment i mean if

19:30 you're not experimenting you might as

19:31 well just i don't know do something

19:33 different

19:34 is experimentation is key and actually

19:37 that's the other thing that i think we

19:39 as we as telcos have had to learn to do

19:41 more of we've always been slightly

19:43 slightly nervous about breaking things

19:45 um actually with new cloud technology

19:48 it's easier to test stuff

19:49 um than it's ever been before and it's

19:51 easier to run things without having a

19:53 big impact and and and that's one of the

19:56 big benefits of of

19:58 our bt network cloud that juniper is a

20:00 huge partner of i think the second part

20:02 to that is bt has more patents and ai

20:05 than any other company in the uk

20:08 um

20:09 we are leading at the front of ai we've

20:11 developed many ai based solutions in our

20:13 for our contact centers

20:15 for traveling and logistics

20:19 and we partner with

20:20 with people to test

20:22 that ai and ensure it's making the

20:25 outcome that we think it's making

20:27 one of the biggest challenges with ai is

20:29 when you build it the only test that

20:32 you've got for it is the expert that

20:33 you've got to say well is the ai doing

20:35 it right or not and so you still need to

20:38 have strong skills you still need to

20:39 have strong capabilities but if you're

20:41 building ai to service customers you

20:43 need to go out there and listen to

20:45 customers and take feedback on how

20:46 that's performing and a lot and again

20:49 we've built ai to do that so

20:51 it's it's a never-ending um journey but

20:54 but i think

20:55 you know

20:56 again one of the other skill benefits is

20:59 you know if if you're doing ai don't

21:01 have an ai department and democratize ai

21:04 build it into all the all the

21:05 curriculums of your engineers and the

21:07 people that are working in marketing

21:09 give them the power to use ai and and

21:12 and then use their own expertise and

21:14 intelligence to put two and two together

21:16 but for us you know the the one of the

21:18 biggest um aspects of the pandemic day

21:22 one are prime minister boris johnson on

21:24 tv and rai changed a whole chunk of

21:27 traffic

21:28 paths throughout the network because we

21:30 had a whole lot of people wanting to

21:32 watch him to understand what was going

21:34 on we couldn't have done that humans

21:36 could not have done it and we would have

21:38 provided a bad experience had it not

21:40 been for ai so for us

21:43 as they as the network gets more

21:44 complicated because of the demands that

21:46 our customers are putting on it ai is in

21:49 our future we haven't we really don't

21:50 have a choice because humans aren't fast

21:53 enough and and i've talked to juniper um

21:56 i've talked to juniper teams about this

21:57 before what triggered this for us was

22:00 the olympics in 20 2012 when we hosted

22:02 him in london

22:03 usain bolt took 10 seconds to run 100

22:06 meters and we didn't know

22:09 in that 10 second period

22:11 whether anyone had seen it because the

22:14 tooling in the systems back then just

22:16 couldn't cope with a quantum of 10

22:18 seconds

22:20 customer satisfaction quantum is less

22:23 than a second

22:24 and if you're not building a platform

22:26 that can cope second by second even

22:29 millisecond by millisecond to understand

22:31 what's going on for your customers

22:33 you're in trouble and that's very much

22:35 the mindset that we've had in bt and

22:38 jointly with juniper i may have to steal

22:40 that quote neil that was really wise

22:41 about the about the customer kind of

22:43 satisfaction uh quantum okay last

22:46 question it's a big question and

22:47 unfortunately i need a short answer um

22:49 so the question is about service

22:51 provider revenues you know i've been

22:52 challenged to grow

22:54 but we know there are many opportunities

22:55 so from your perspective what can

22:57 operators like bt do to better monetize

22:59 their network investment and or find new

23:01 sources of revenue

23:03 look i mentioned some of that in the

23:05 discussion with blake how do we take the

23:07 network beyond where we've taken it

23:09 before and how do we enable it in ways

23:11 that people haven't thought about so i

23:13 use my wembley stadium um you know

23:17 um use case where from the minute you

23:19 get off a train to the minute you're

23:20 sitting in the seat we're using the

23:22 network to make your whole experience

23:23 better using video using sensors using

23:26 the fact that you know how what you paid

23:29 with where your phone is taking all of

23:31 that data working with the stadium as a

23:33 partner working with the transportation

23:35 customer sorry transportation systems as

23:37 a partner and building the easiest

23:40 solution so that you're never worried

23:42 you know you're never thinking about

23:44 when's that train going to turn up or am

23:46 i going to get to the to the bar and get

23:48 my hot dog quickly am i going to miss

23:50 some of the game

23:51 using all of that and symphony and

23:53 orchestrating in a way that provides an

23:55 outstanding customer experience

23:57 customers will you know you heard it

23:59 from blake customers will pay for that

24:01 and we believe we can grab on to a big

24:03 chunk of that cash

24:05 well thank you so much neil and blake

24:06 i'll turn it back over to you to kind of

24:08 transition to our next guest

24:10 thank you neil i've really enjoyed

24:12 hearing from you and i think all of us

24:14 can imagine what that 10 seconds with

24:17 hussein bolt look like and you were

24:19 probably sweating a little bit

24:22 worried that things weren't working out

24:24 but that's the job of running the

24:26 network is it's very high pressure

24:28 almost as high pressure as being hussein

24:30 volt sprinting in front of you know

24:33 5 billion people

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