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The aviation industry is transforming thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals and companies launching their own MRO services in Europe. These entrepreneurs are disrupting traditional norms and bringing fresh perspectives to the industry. With a focus on innovation, specialized services and customer-centric approaches, they drive growth, deliver value and shape the future of aviation in Europe.

MRO services, or Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul services, refer to a range of activities involved in the maintenance and upkeep of aircraft, ensuring their safe and efficient operation. These services encompass inspections, repairs, upgrades and overhauls of various components and systems within a plane. MRO services cover both routine maintenance tasks and more complex repairs or modifications.

MRO services are critical for maintaining the airworthiness and reliability of aircraft throughout their operational lifespan. They involve comprehensive checks and inspections to ensure compliance with regulatory standards, identify potential issues and address required repairs or replacements. Additionally, MRO services encompass the management and sourcing of spare parts and the implementation of safety and performance enhancements.

In this article, we will explore the advantages these entrepreneurs bring to the MRO sector, their innovative approaches and what they can teach us about collaboration and innovation.

Related: Why the Drone Startup Market Holds Real Economic Potential

Identifying niche markets and specialized services

One of the key advantages that entrepreneurs bring to the MRO sector is their ability to identify untapped niche markets and offer specialized services tailored to specific aircraft types, customer segments, or regional needs. By conducting thorough market research and understanding the unique demands of these niche markets, entrepreneurs can position themselves as experts in their respective domains. This allows them to provide highly specialized and targeted services that meet the specific requirements of their clients.

For example, entrepreneurs may focus on servicing particular aircraft models, such as regional or business jets and develop deep expertise in maintaining and repairing these aircraft. By concentrating their efforts on a specific market segment, they can differentiate themselves from larger MRO providers and offer their clients a more personalized and tailored experience. Furthermore, entrepreneurs may also identify regional needs, such as specialized maintenance services for aircraft operating in harsh climates or remote locations, and develop capabilities to address these specific requirements.

Embracing technological advancements for efficiency

Entrepreneur-led MRO services prioritize technology adoption to optimize operations, reduce downtime and improve maintenance processes. They understand that leveraging technology is crucial to staying competitive and providing efficient and cost-effective client services.

One area where technology has made a significant impact is advanced analytics. By harnessing the power of data, entrepreneurs can analyze historical maintenance records, track performance trends and predict potential issues before they become critical. This proactive approach to maintenance allows for preventive measures to be taken, reducing the risk of unexpected failures and minimizing costly downtime. Predictive maintenance solutions enable entrepreneurs to schedule maintenance tasks based on actual equipment conditions, optimizing resource allocation and streamlining operations.

Additionally, entrepreneurs are exploring using automation and robotics. Robotic systems can perform repetitive tasks with precision and speed, freeing up skilled technicians to focus on more complex and critical activities. Automation not only enhances efficiency but also improves safety by reducing human error.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs invest in digital platforms and cloud-based systems to streamline communication, documentation and workflow management. These technologies enable seamless collaboration among team members, enhance data accessibility and facilitate real-time information sharing with clients. By embracing these technological advancements, entrepreneurs are able to deliver faster services and provide a higher level of transparency to their clients.

Related: Where Did Go First Go Wrong & What Should Airlines Learn From It?

Customer-centric approaches and enhanced service

Entrepreneurs in the MRO sector prioritize customer satisfaction by offering personalized services, quick turnarounds and customized solutions. They understand that each client has unique needs and requirements, and they strive to provide a tailored experience that goes beyond the standard MRO services.

Entrepreneurs foster close relationships with their clients, taking the time to understand their business objectives and aligning their services accordingly. They act as partners rather than just service providers, working collaboratively with clients to develop innovative solutions that address their specific challenges and goals. By actively listening to their clients, entrepreneurs can anticipate their needs and provide tailored recommendations and strategies to optimize their fleet’s performance and minimize operational disruptions.

In addition to personalized services, entrepreneurs in the MRO sector are known for their quick turnaround times. They understand the importance of minimizing aircraft downtime, as it directly impacts their clients’ profitability and operational efficiency. Through streamlined processes, efficient resource allocation and effective project management, entrepreneurs are able to complete maintenance and repair tasks in a timely manner, getting their clients’ aircraft back in the air swiftly.

Fostering collaboration and driving innovation

Entrepreneurs understand the power of collaboration and actively seek partnerships with industry stakeholders to foster innovation and drive continuous improvement. By connecting with aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, regulatory bodies and other MRO service providers, entrepreneurs create an ecosystem of knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Through these collaborations, entrepreneurs gain access to the latest industry trends, emerging technologies and best practices. This enables them to stay at the forefront of innovation and offer cutting-edge solutions to their clients. By challenging traditional practices and exploring synergies with their partners, entrepreneurs push boundaries and create novel solutions to address industry challenges.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs often invest in research and development initiatives to drive innovation within their own organizations. They allocate resources to experiment with new technologies, test alternative maintenance methods and explore novel approaches to optimize MRO processes. This commitment to innovation allows them to constantly evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the aviation industry.

Entrepreneurs launching MRO services are reshaping the aviation industry through their innovative approaches, specialized services and customer-centric focus. By identifying niche markets, embracing technological advancements and fostering collaboration, these entrepreneurs drive growth and shape the future of MRO services. Their ability to offer specialized services tailored to unique market segments, leverage technology for efficiency and cost savings, provide personalized and timely solutions and foster collaboration for innovation sets them apart from their competition.

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There is nothing that compares to staying ahead of the curve in your industry as an entrepreneur. For many years, trendspotting has worked for me as an entrepreneur, and this is a key strategy when it comes to staying ahead of the curve in any industry.

In this article, we will take a dive into trendspotting, techniques for trendspotting and other strategies. So, let’s dive right in.

Related: 4 Strategies to Help Your Company Stay Ahead of the Competition

What is trendspotting?

Trendspotting is the identification of emerging patterns, changes in the market and shifts even before they occur in a particular industry. It is more of a proactive approach that allows businesses to anticipate future trends and stay way ahead of their competition in the market.

The main goal of trendspotting is to gain a competitive advantage within your industry, and it has been proven to increase competitive advantage with big data by 83% for businesses that capitalize on it.

To effectively implement trendspotting as an entrepreneur, here are some practical tips to help you stay on top of your industry:

1. Analyze past trends

Analyzing past trends is the first step in understanding the evolution and trajectory of your industry. This could actually shape your entire business’s future. By taking a telescopic look into past successes and failures, entrepreneurs can learn from their experiences and the experiences of those before them. This is where you gain insight and inspiration for solutions that your consumers are looking for. I, for one, take a week in every quarter to do a thorough analysis of past trends. This can be different for you, but do what works for you.

2. Stay on top of industry news always

If anything, never miss crucial news about your industry. It could mean gaining or missing insight into a critical trend or opportunity. To do this effectively, you must monitor various news outlets and sources to stay up-to-date with the latest developments. There are three ways I go about this; reading industry publications, following experts in my industry on social media and attending events in my industry. Look for the best sources that would work for you and your business, but ensure that these sources are reliable.

3. Utilize social media

This is one of my favorites when it comes to trendspotting — I like to see it as the top arrow in my quiver when looking to stay ahead (Top Secret unleashed). Social media remains one of the most powerful tools to identify trends and monitor what customers are talking about in your space. Entrepreneurs need to utilize social media to the fullest to track customer sentiment, identify emerging influencers and keep an eye on top competitors. Tools like Hootsuite and BuzzSumo can help in managing trendspotting on social media.

Related: Making Your Presence Felt In The Current Digital Landscape: Stay Ahead Of The Game With These Five Key Trends

4. Industry events should be on your list

You can stay up-to-date on industry trends by attending events in your industry. It is also a great opportunity to meet and connect with other professionals in your industry. Attend conferences, networking events and trade shows to build relationships and stay informed on the latest developments in the industry.

5. Conduct market research

Another tip for trendspotting to stay ahead in your industry is to conduct proper market research. This is where some people miss it — they don’t conduct proper market research. You have to analyze customer behavior thoroughly, monitor industry reports and survey customers when necessary. One tool that has been of immense help to me and many industry experts is Google Analytics, which has made market research more accessible for many years and remains one of my best market research tools.

6. Experiment and take risks

Experimenting once in a while and taking risks are essential for staying ahead of the curve in any industry. It can be beneficial to try out new things, test new ideas and tread new waters. This can be as simple as introducing new features, launching new products or services, using new market strategies or testing new business models.

Related: Business Trends Entrepreneurs Must Know

7. Embrace new technologies and innovations

To stay ahead of the curve, another strategy is to embrace new technologies and be open to innovations that can help you gain the upper hand in your industry. This can be anything from investing in new software or hardware, embracing cloud technology, investing in or incorporating blockchain technology and embracing AI technology.

Trendspotting is an essential skill every business must develop to stay ahead of the curve in their industry. But keep in mind that this is not a one-time activity that must be done and dumped. It must be done continuously. So, here are my takeaways if you really want to put trendspotting into practice:

  • Create a working system to stay organized and help you in tracking your findings.

  • Focus only on the most important trends that are related to your business.

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks.

  • Always evaluate your strategies, and adjust them if needed.

  • Embrace innovation, and remain open to change.

Put your best foot out in terms of trendspotting. This will help you stay on top of the latest trends in the industry and stay ahead of the curve. Happy trendspotting.

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There’s no doubt that the age of technology has transformed various sectors of society, but its impact on education is particularly profound. We’re now at a point where we must reassess our traditional notions of education and begin to reimagine it in the light of technological advancements.

In the traditional classroom, education has long been a one-size-fits-all affair. With a single teacher facing a room full of students, the pace of teaching is often dictated by the average student’s ability. This approach leaves little room for individual attention, which can lead to students at both ends of the spectrum — the struggling and the gifted — feeling underserved.

Related: How Will Technology Transform Global Education In 2023?

The benefits of technology in education

The advent of technology, however, opens up a world of possibilities for personalized, adaptive learning. Educational platforms are now harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to create learning environments that adapt to the needs of each student. Lessons can be presented in an array of formats, from text and graphics to videos and interactive simulations, catering to different learning styles. With real-time feedback, these platforms can adjust the level of difficulty, the pace of lessons and the types of exercises to fit each student’s unique learning curve. This individualized approach could address the challenges of the traditional classroom, offering a more efficient and inclusive education.

Further, the connectivity offered by the internet has made knowledge more accessible than ever. It’s not just about connecting to a vast amount of information, it’s also about connecting to people. Platforms like Coursera and edX have democratized education, enabling anyone with an internet connection to access courses from prestigious universities worldwide. Online communities and discussion forums have turned learning into a collaborative, interactive experience, not confined by geographical boundaries.

But as we embrace the benefits of technology in education, it’s equally important to remain aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

The challenges ahead

First, there’s the issue of digital divide. Not every student has access to the technology required for digital learning. Even when the devices are available, reliable internet connections may not be, especially in rural and low-income areas. It’s crucial that we address this disparity and ensure that the benefits of technology-aided education are equitably distributed.

Second, while technology offers personalized learning, there’s a risk of isolating students. Traditional classrooms foster social interaction and teamwork — vital skills for the real world. Therefore, it’s essential that the design of digital learning environments incorporates features that promote collaboration and interaction.

Third, the privacy and security of students’ data is a significant concern. As more of our children’s education takes place online, it’s paramount that platforms adhere to strict data privacy standards to protect students’ sensitive information.

Finally, there’s a concern about the readiness of our educators. Teachers need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to use these technologies effectively. They need to transition from being knowledge dispensers to learning facilitators, a shift that requires significant training and support.

Related: How This Startup Is Infusing Technology with Education in Rural Schools

What to keep in mind going forward

In conclusion, there’s no denying that technology has immense potential to revolutionize education. It promises personalized, accessible and collaborative learning that could address many of the flaws of our current system. However, as we chart the path for this new era of education, it’s essential that we do so thoughtfully.

We need to ensure that the benefits of technology in education reach every student, regardless of their socioeconomic status. We must incorporate social interactions and collaborations in the digital learning environment to prepare students for the real world. We need to prioritize the security and privacy of students’ data. And, most importantly, we must equip our teachers with the skills and support they need to navigate this new terrain.

The journey to reimagine education in the age of technology is complex and fraught with challenges. However, if we approach it thoughtfully and inclusively, we have the opportunity to create an education system that truly serves every student’s unique needs and prepares them for the future. We have the opportunity to democratize knowledge, ensuring that learning is not a privilege for the few but a right for all.

Moreover, the successful integration of technology into education has broader implications for society. It could foster a culture of lifelong learning, where individuals continuously upgrade their skills to stay relevant in the fast-paced world. In a future where AI and automation are set to disrupt job markets, such a culture is not just desirable but necessary.

Furthermore, a more educated populace could drive innovation, economic growth and social progress. Imagine the solutions we could create if more minds had access to quality education and the tools to apply that knowledge. Imagine the societal problems we could solve if critical thinking and problem-solving were ingrained in our education system.

Related: 3 Challenges of Education that Ed-tech is Addressing

So, let’s not shy away from the challenges of integrating technology into education. Let’s see them as opportunities to refine and improve the system. Let’s learn from the successes and failures of early adopters and strive to create a digital learning environment that is inclusive, engaging, secure and effective.

At the end of the day, education is not just about imparting knowledge; it’s about empowering individuals. It’s about fostering curiosity, creativity and empathy. It’s about equipping our youth with the skills and mindset they need to navigate the future. Technology can aid in this endeavor, but only if we use it thoughtfully, responsibly and inclusively.

In this age of technology, let’s not merely digitize education. Let’s reimagine it. For the potential rewards — a more educated, innovative and inclusive society — are well worth the effort.

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In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, entrepreneurs must be more innovative and bold to make a difference. The goal is to find both creative and affordable ways to make healthcare more accessible to all individuals. As an entrepreneur who transitioned from being a dentist, I have embarked on a journey to bridge the gap between oral health and overall well-being. Along this path, I have gained invaluable insights that I hope can inspire fellow entrepreneurs across all health sectors to make care more accessible for everyone.

Don’t spend all day in the lab. Talk to patients.

While clinical expertise is undoubtedly crucial, it is not the sole determinant of successful healthcare innovation. To truly understand the needs and frustrations of patients, healthcare entrepreneurs must engage in open and honest conversations with them.

By actively listening to patient experiences, you can gain invaluable insights into the shortcomings of the healthcare system. Identifying pain points allows you to develop effective solutions that address real patient needs.

This should be a critical component of your market research. In addition to talking to patients, you should thoroughly research the healthcare market to identify gaps and unmet needs. This can include analyzing trends, studying demographics and understanding the evolving healthcare landscape. By gaining a deep understanding of the market, business leaders can develop targeted solutions that address specific challenges and provide value to patients.

Through actively listening to my patients, I learned a lot about my market and niche. I gained inspiration for a product that was both tailored and effective to existing patient needs.

Related: How This Innovative Technology is Making Healthcare More Affordable and Accessible

Learn from others across the healthcare space

Innovation thrives when ideas are cross-pollinated between sectors and specialties. As healthcare entrepreneurs, we should look beyond our specific fields and draw inspiration from others who are applying groundbreaking strategies in other disciplines.

In my case, I went beyond dentistry and studied advancements in at-home testing, diagnostics and virtual care, recognizing their potential to revolutionize healthcare access. Incorporating these elements into my company enabled me to extend dental care to a wider population that faced barriers previously.

No matter which field of healthcare you are in, by actively seeking innovation from other industries, you will uncover new perspectives and approaches that can drive positive change for patients and customers.

Embrace collaboration and partnerships

In the pursuit of accessible healthcare, collaboration is key. Entrepreneurs cannot achieve this mission alone. We must actively seek partnerships and alliances that can bolster our offerings. By joining forces with like-minded organizations and companies, we can pool resources, expertise and networks to amplify our impact.

For example, in starting my company, I collaborated with strategic partners across telemedicine and the insurance industries, which allowed me to leverage their networks and introduce point-of-care salivary testing and personalized oral health prevention plans to a broader patient base. By working together, entrepreneurs can make a significant difference in people’s lives and advance the cause of accessible healthcare. It is essential to proactively seek potential partners who share our vision and work collectively towards a common goal of health equity for all.

It’s also important to embrace collaboration by fostering a diverse and inclusive team within your organization. Seek individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. By embracing diversity, you can tap into a wider range of ideas and approaches, leading to more innovative solutions. Encourage collaboration, and create an inclusive environment where all team members feel valued and empowered to contribute their unique insights.

Finally, you can find critical partnerships with not only businesses but also policymakers and advocacy groups in the healthcare space. It’s important to take an active role in advocating for policy changes that promote accessible and affordable healthcare. Engage with policymakers, industry associations and advocacy organizations to share insights and perspectives on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in healthcare. Collaborate to influence policy decisions that support innovation and improve healthcare access for all.

Related: Collaboration Is Redefining The Future Of Healthcare

Here’s the bottom line: Innovation in healthcare demands a fresh perspective and a willingness to challenge the status quo. As entrepreneurs, we have the power to drive transformative change and make healthcare more accessible to everyone. By embracing a patient-centric approach, learning from other industries and fostering collaborations, we can revolutionize the healthcare landscape and ensure that quality care is within reach of every individual. Together, let us create a future where healthcare is equitable, inclusive and accessible for all.

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The business world respects unicorn startups and with good reason. To qualify as a unicorn startup, a company must have an investor valuation of $1 billion or more, and there are over 1,200 unicorns in the world as of March 2023.

The path to unicorn status may not be impossible, but it can be highly challenging. After all, only 0.00006% of them will become unicorns.

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People are scared of generative AI, but the future is safe and bright if you prepare now.

I recently published an expert roundup on the benefits of generative AI. Some people worried about bias and political agendas, while others thought jobs would disappear and technocrats would hoard all wealth. Fortunately, we can mitigate risks through transparency, corporate governance and educational transformation.

Below, I’ll discuss the fears and dangers of generative AI and potential solutions for each:

Biased algorithms can shape public opinion

Bias is inherent in every system. Editors have always selected stories to publish or ignore. With the advent of the internet, search engines rewarded publishers for optimized content and advertising, empowering a class of search engine marketers. Then, social media platforms developed subjective quality standards and terms of service. Additionally, bias can arise from algorithm training with disproportionate demographic representation. As such, we’ll face the same problems, solutions and debates over safety and privacy with generative AI that we already face in other systems.

Some people believe in legislative solutions, but those are influenced by lobbyists and ideologues. Instead, consider competition among ChatGPT, Bard, Llama and other generative AIs. Competition sparks innovation, where profits and market share drive unique approaches. As demand increases, the job market will explode with demand for algorithm bias auditors, similar to the growth of diversity training in human resources.

It’s challenging to find the source of bias in a black-box algorithm, where users only see the inputs and outputs of the system. However, open-source code bases and training sets will enable users to test for bias in the public space. Coders may develop transparent white-box models, and the market will decide a winner.

Related: The 3 Principals of Building Anti-Bias AI

Generative AI could destroy jobs and concentrate wealth

Many people fear that elite technocrats will replace workers with robots and accumulate wealth while society suffers. Consider how technology replaced jobs for decades. The cotton gin replaced field workers who toiled in the hot sun. Movable type replaced scribes who hand-wrote books, and ecommerce websites displaced many physical stores.

Some workers and businesses suffered from these transformations. But people learned new skills, and employers hired them to fill talent gaps. We will need radically different education and training to survive. Some people won’t upskill in time, and we have an existing social safety net for them.

Historically, we valued execution over ideas. Today, ideation may set humans apart from machines, where “ideators” replace knowledge workers. Our post-AI world will require critical thinkers, creatives and others to innovate and define ideas for AIs to execute. Quality assurance professionals, algorithm trainers and “prompt engineers” will have a vibrant future, too.

There will also be a market for “human-made” products and services. People will hunger for a uniquely human touch informed by emotional intelligence, especially in the medical and hospitality industries. An episode of 60 Minutes ended with “100% human-generated content,” and others will follow.

Generative AI may create an influx of spam

Many marketers saw ChatGPT as a shortcut to content creation, publishing articles verbatim. The risky technique is just a cheap, fast, low-quality form of ghostwriting.

In contrast, generated content may make digital marketing more equitable by reducing ghostwriting costs for bootstrapped entrepreneurs. The key is understanding Google E-E-A-T, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Your Google reputation and ranking hinge on your published work. So, people who improve and customize generated content will prosper, while Google flags purveyors of “copy-paste” as spammers.

Rogue AI could pose cybersecurity risks

A rogue coder could create harmful directives for an AI to damage individuals, software, hardware and organizations. Threats include malware, phishing schemes and other cybersecurity threats. But that’s already happening. Before the internet, we battled computer viruses targeting people, organizations and equipment. For-profit antivirus providers have served this market need to keep us safer.

Zero-trust platforms like blockchain may detect anomalies and mitigate cybersecurity risks. In addition, companies will create standard operating procedures (SOPs) to protect their systems — and profits. Therefore, new jobs will materialize to develop new processes, governance, ethics and software.

Related: Why Are So Many Companies Afraid of Generative AI?

Stolen identities and reputation attacks could be imminent

People already create deepfake videos of celebrities and politicians. Many are parodies, but some are malicious. Soon, humans will be unable to detect them. Historically, we’ve had this capability since PhotoShop was released, and teams are already in place to address misinformation and fake images at social media companies and news outlets.

Regulations and policing will never prevent the creation of fake content. Nefarious characters will find tools on the black market and the dark web. Fortunately, there are solutions in the private sector already.

Social media platforms will continue to block presumably fake content and stolen identities. And more solutions will come to fruition. Tools can already detect generated content and continue to improve. Some may become integrated with internet browsers that start issuing fake content warnings. Or celebrities may wear timestamped, dynamic QR codes for authentication when filming.

The singularity may finally arrive

The thought of a conscious AI megalomaniac crosses sci-fi geek minds everywhere. Find comfort knowing that it may already exist. After all, we can’t detect biological or technological consciousness. Yet, consciousness may emerge from complex systems like generative AI. Indeed, the simulation hypothesis suggests we’re in a simulation that an AI controls already.

Related: Addressing the Undercurrent of Fear Towards AI in the Workforce

History is full of dangerous technology. Warren Buffet compared AI to the atom bomb. If he’s right, then we’re as safe as we have been since 1945, when the U.S. government dropped a nuclear bomb for the first and last time. Systems are in place to mitigate that risk, and new systems will arise to keep AI safe, too. Our future will remain bright if enough people pursue cybersecurity and related fields. With that in mind, learn to use this technology and prepare for the shift towards AGI.

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I’m a tech guy, but I’ve been watching the news around artificial intelligence with trepidation. Microsoft’s Bing has threatened Google’s supremacy and in response, the behemoth is racing to push out an AI-infused search engine — whether humans are ready to culturally absorb the technology or not.

Meanwhile, Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak added their names to an open letter with more than a thousand signatories urging companies to pause their AI implementation until safety protocols are established.

It’s clear we’re in an arms race for AI-assisted technology, and like many, I fear we aren’t ready. Professionals of all stripes — from the C-Suite to developers — are exploring ChatGPT to code and communicate more efficiently. I haven’t been in a situation yet where I’ve found myself guessing if I’m speaking to a human or a machine, but I don’t think that moment is far off.

Some CEOs are already treating AI like a member of their executive team. After a particularly callous layoff email from the CEO of the cloud computing company, PagerDuty, went viral, ChatGPT produced a close imitation, raising concerns about how leaders might use the technology.

While AI can be a helpful tool for assistive workplace tasks, it’s no replacement for humanity. In fact, as we enter this new era of tech, human leadership has never been more important. Here’s why it’s a mistake to outsource your leadership to technology.

Related: The Perfect Blend: How to Successfully Combine AI and Human Approaches to Business

The CEO’s role in the age of AI

With AI trending, I’ve been reflecting on my role as a CEO. The truth is my team doesn’t need me to model how to do their jobs or micromanage the projects they are driving. Not only are my employees smarter than me in their chosen professions, but I trust their judgment on where AI assistive tools can help them find efficiencies.

The role work plays in our lives has evolved. A recent report showed 70% of workers say work defines their sense of purpose. With so much riding on the workplace experience, leaders have a responsibility to step up and ensure their teams feel connected and have an opportunity to contribute to something meaningful.

As leaders, more than ever, our role is to provide a greater sense of purpose and motivation. It’s our job to get our people jazzed up about the mission and committed to working together to achieve common goals. To do this requires a high level of emotional intelligence and human relatability — traits even the most advanced robots can’t replicate.

Computers are good at a lot of things, but connection is still a uniquely human skill — and it’s incredibly valuable. So, the next time you find yourself asking if ChatGPT could say it better, remember the most important part of your job is to make people care and no computer can do that better than you can.

Flexing our connectivity muscles

When was the last time you memorized a phone number? It’s probably been awhile. For all its benefits, technology can also make us dependent — one study found nearly 1 in 5 Americans can’t even remember their own number.

Since smartphones took over the task of keeping our friends and family on speed dial, we’ve stopped using the part of our brain that kept those number sequences sharp. Skills are like muscles, if you stop exercising them they get weak and decline.

In an asynchronous work environment, communication could be just another thing we outsource to AI, but I’d caution against it. If we start relying on AI to handle human interactions in the workplace, it’s no exaggeration to say we could lose the very trait that differentiates us from machines: empathy.

In leadership positions, it’s necessary to deliver both good and bad news. As tempting as it might be to avoid the discomfort of speaking face-to-face or typing out a heart-felt email communicating some tough truths, it’s essential that you do.

They may be difficult, but hard times are often our best opportunities to grow as leaders. If addressed correctly, they improve your ability to relate and empathize with your team. In addition, employees appreciate authenticity. Business leaders who show their feelings and own their mistakes are seen as more trustworthy and competent. In addition, vulnerability in leadership actually increases productivity and motivation.

Think about what humanity has accomplished in our time on this planet: hunting and gathering, inventing the wheel, conceiving of the internet and much more. We’ve only reached this point because we have learned to cooperate meaningfully with each other. Don’t short-circuit your ability to connect with your team, it’s the most important opportunity you’ve got.

The risk of outsourcing your heart to AI

There are other risks to over-relying on AI as a leader. By outsourcing your communication, you run the risk of being perceived as disingenuous and can break the trust you’ve built with your team. Those cracks can create disillusionment.

A 2022 survey found 1 in 3 employees said they felt disconnected from their company’s leadership. Feeling disconnected has real impacts on workers. It puts them at a higher risk of burnout, hurts the quality of their work and makes them six times more likely to leave the company sooner. When we whittle down the work experience to productivity and paychecks, we sacrifice the things that foster connection. Community, creativity and purpose — these concepts may be abstract, but they’re foundational to thriving workplaces.

Put the time in. If you’re in a hybrid or remote workplace, make an effort to get the whole team together whenever possible. When we foster shared team experiences we build stronger and more effective teams. There are good use cases for AI tools — putting together lists, assisting with boilerplate code or getting your brainstorming juices flowing — these tasks can create necessary efficiencies.

But as we navigate the age of AI and what it means for who and how we trust, there is no substitute for a leader who is committed to connecting with their team on a deeply human level.

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ChatGPT’s prototype launched less than half a year ago, shocking though it may seem. In the short time since, the platform has transformed how marketers, creators and inventive students view content creation. Depending on who you ask, and depending on how they are embraced, generative AI platforms like ChatGPT and Google’s newly released Bard will either improve the way we do business or put us out of business.

One year ago, generative AI art approximating colleagues’ facial characteristics littered our LinkedIn feeds. Now we’re discussing the future of work as we know it … and it will likely be determined by those same behind-the-scenes algorithms.

I encourage you to consider not what generative AI can take away but what it can provide. While it’s only natural for a technology that solves the unsolvable to cause a certain amount of trepidation, it’s not a reason to try to ignore or suppress its capabilities. In fact, consider for a moment the major technological advancements of past centuries and the significant impact they had on GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the years.

For example, the industrial revolution in the late 18th and early 19th centuries led to a massive increase in productivity and output in manufacturing industries, which contributed to the growth of GDP. Similarly, the advent of the internet and digital technologies in the late 20th century has revolutionized communication and information sharing, which has led to the growth of many new industries and businesses, contributing to an increase in GDP. As we once again face a revolutionary technology, I contend that we should spend less time on what it will take away, and more time on how we will leverage it to create and accomplish more.

Related: Why Are So Many Companies Afraid of Generative AI?

AI has already enabled remarkable innovations

Enterprises handle a massive amount of data. From CRMs to APIs to consumer-facing technologies and beyond — everything in the enterprise tech stack generates an enormous volume of insight-rich data. Globally, The World Economic Forum predicts we will generate about 463 exabytes of data daily as early as 2025. For context, that’s 1,000 bytes multiplied by a factor of six. In other words, it’s more data than we as humans know what to do with or how to maximize the value of.

While our species is incapable of fully understanding data at this scale, much less extracting value from it, non-generative AI applications have been heavily leveraged to categorize, analyze, correlate and draw conclusions from such data at a phenomenal rate. Generally speaking, this level of efficiency-driving data science and machine learning was quickly embraced and adopted across numerous industries from business to healthcare. Because such non-generative AI was not seen as a threat to human competencies, but rather as a tool to help us achieve more, we have made tremendous progress by leveraging such technologies.

Such is not the case with this new form of generative AI that has now emerged, the capabilities of which are deemed to overlap a lot more with those of humans. In fact, generative AI is causing citizens and business leaders alike to be seemingly much more cautious about its applications and the threat that it may pose to jobs, industries and our current way of life than they were about its non-generative predecessor. While some of these concerns are certainly founded, it is imperative that we look not only at what we may lose but what we stand to gain by embracing this new technology — and even what we stand to lose by not embracing it.

Related: How ChatGPT and Generative AI Can Transform the Way You Run Your Business

AI has the potential to transform workplace tech

One example of how generative AI can change our lives, or at least the course of our workday, is its ability to transform our relationship with the everyday software around us.

Today, humans use software to accomplish or be more efficient at certain tasks. In most cases, we are required to physically interact with the software, digest information it gives us, make decisions on the tasks and strategies we will implement using said software, then, of course, use the software itself to execute those tasks. While ultimately the software is helpful, there is no ignoring that to reap its full benefit, we must invest time and effort into it which is taken away from other core parts of our day.

But consider for a moment a world where such a relationship is antiquated, and that software is no longer a tool that we have to spend time using, but rather a partner that will give us time back by doing things for us. Generative AI is one of the keys to realizing this new relationship with software. Time-consuming decisions and tasks across organizations and society are now automatically completed on our behalf, giving us time back to do more of what we are passionate about and great at. The efficiencies gained, not to mention the optimizations leveraged, will not only transform our outputs as a society, but the learnings and further innovations that will result will transform our economies, technologies and ways of life. This is where we at SOCi see software going and where we are investing our time and leveraging new AI technologies.

Related: The Perfect Blend: How to Successfully Combine AI and Human Approaches to Business

How do we move toward an AI-based future?

My answer to this question is simple: optimistically, but cautiously. Although I’ve discussed the positives of AI maturity at length, I must also emphasize what AI can’t accomplish.

AI, generative or otherwise, is a powerful tool that can be leveraged, but it is seldom the end product. It is our responsibility to train the tool to be effective, to integrate it into workflows and processes that we need to achieve our goals and to continue to consider the needs of our customers. While the AI models flooding the market today are powerful, they still need direction, application and that “human touch” to be rendered into specific solutions suitable for our businesses.

It is also important to note that while AI may be leveraged to provide insights and complete certain tasks, it does not (yet) “think” as humans do. AI models are built to process data and deliver outputs but not to produce original thoughts and complex solutions. For the time being, humans will still be at the helm of crafting such strategies and solutions to larger societal or organizational challenges.

In the end, it will be the innovators amongst us that accept these challenges and embrace the benefits of AI that will dictate the advancements that we make and the transformations that our way of life will undergo. Our creators at SOCi are deeply passionate about being at the forefront of this movement and specifically about authoring the transition of the relationship our customers have with marketing software — from a tool that they use to accomplish meaningful tasks to a co-marketer who can execute on thousands of data-driven decisions and tasks — for them to deliver real-world results and give them time back to do what they are passionate about.

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The best time to freeze your eggs is probably when you can least afford to do it.

Women who undergo the procedure in their mid-30s or earlier are at a significant advantage. The younger they are, the more likely they’ll retrieve a large number of eggs and need fewer to achieve a healthy pregnancy, per Fertility IQ.

Yet just one cycle of egg freezing can cost approximately $4,500-$8,000, and the injectable medication comes with an additional $4,000-$6,000 price tag, The New York Times reported — that’s before the cost of egg storage, which can exceed $500 per year.

“There’s amazing science and technology that makes egg freezing possible,” Lauren Makler, co-founder of fertility startup Cofertility, says, “yet it’s so inaccessible for so many people because of the cost.”

Related: Facebook, Apple to Begin Paying for Employees to Freeze Their Eggs

Makler’s journey to co-founder began when was diagnosed with a rare condition that required abdominal surgery in 2018. Unsure if she’d be able to conceive in the future, she researched the egg-donation space and was disappointed by the “icky” and “antiquated” approaches she found.

Makler did end up getting pregnant unassisted, but she was still determined “to build something in reproductive health.”

So she connected with angel investor Halle Tecco, who’s passionate about fixing the healthcare system. But it would turn out that Tecco, who’s battled infertility herself and says not freezing her eggs in her 20s is one of her “biggest regrets in life,” was actually better suited to be a co-founder.

In need of a brand-oriented expert to round out their founding team, the duo recruited digital-marketing veteran Arielle Spiegel. “I was 28 when I started trying to conceive,” Spiegel says, “and I didn’t even know what ovulation was. That’s a big problem. But the lack of proactive fertility awareness, education and preservation options in this country really comes down to accessibility.”

Related: How This Healthcare Entrepreneur Is Disrupting the Fertility Space

The trio wanted to find a way to increase access to egg freezing and change egg donation for the better. So, in October 2022, they launched Cofertility: a “human-centered fertility ecosystem” that offers a destigmatized, scalable approach to egg donation.

The company matches women who want to freeze their eggs with families who could not conceive otherwise, and by donating half their frozen eggs, the women can access egg freezing for free.

“We want to bring more awareness to why egg freezing is something women might want to consider,” Makler says. “Even if they don’t know if they want to have kids someday. Having your options available to you and being able to pursue whatever you want in life, and not having to worry about that, [is key].”

She was overwhelmed by the cost of egg freezing — then saw an Instagram ad

Kristen, a 27-year-old Boston-based professional in business analytics and consumer insights who wasn’t sure when — or if — she and her husband would want kids, started to consider freezing her eggs once she turned 25 and felt secure in her career.

But, like so many women, she was deterred by the exorbitant price tag.

“I had heard of a lot of my friends starting to think about freezing their eggs,” Kristen says, “and I had started to research it myself, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, $20,000 — I don’t have $20,000 to put towards something that I’m not positive if I’ll need or want in the future.’ So it just seemed overwhelming and something I couldn’t prioritize at the moment.”

Kristen was also interested in donating her eggs. Her younger brother is adopted, so she’s “familiar with nontraditional ways to build a family,” she says. She revisited the possibility several times over the years, but the process never seemed quite right. It “felt super anonymous” and “really focused on the monetary aspect.”

Then, in October 2022, Kristen was scrolling on Instagram when she stumbled across an ad for Cofertility. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard of anything like that,'” she recalls.

This felt so much better than getting paid.

The off-putting layer of anonymity was removed: It wasn’t long before Kristen was emailing Cofertility’s co-founders directly.

She’s since matched with intended parents and expects to complete her egg retrieval by the end of this month.

“It makes sense that someone gets paid for it or gets something in return,” Kristen says, “but this felt so much better than getting paid because then I would actually be able to prioritize my own fertility health.”

Related: COVID-19 Is Changing How Women Think About Their Fertility

There’s still a stigma attached to egg donation, especially in certain communities

At its core, egg donation is someone doing something good: The donor is giving a life-altering opportunity to a family, Makler says. But the process still carries some stigma, which creates “issues on multiple fronts.”

“It’s discouraging a woman from helping a family grow,” Makler says. “It leaves intended parents without options and resources, and it especially hurts the LGBTQ community that is clearly relying on a donation for their family planning.”

According to Makler, a lot of that stigma stems from the cash compensation model.

Though the amount an egg donor is paid varies, a typical fee ranges from $5,000-$10,000, according to Egg Donor America, which states the figure can increase if the donor has cycled previously or possesses “exceptional qualities.”

“That makes it feel really transactional, impersonal and icky for everyone involved: the donor, the intended parent and the donor-conceived person down the line,” Makler says.

Sixty-two percent of people who were donor-conceived felt the exchange of money for the donor eggs leading to their conception was wrong, according to one study authored by researchers from several leading universities, including Harvard Medical School.

The “transactional” quality inherent in traditional egg donation is a real concern for many — especially when it becomes a bargaining chip for desired genetic or socioeconomic markers.

“Sometimes, the more specific you get with what you’re looking for, the higher the cash compensation can go,” Makler explains. “So if you want someone who has a specific heritage or a specific level of education, intended parents often pay more. We don’t believe in that.”

A lack of diversity among egg donors also complicates the situation. In certain U.S. regions, Black, Asian, Indian and Jewish donors may be difficult to find, possibly due to marketing and demand, religious or cultural observances, systemic issues and more, per Anja Health.

Cofertility wants to change that for the many hopeful parents who “don’t see their own heritage represented in the donors that are available to them.” Makler says. Cofertility’s active donors represent more than 55 ethnicities today.

Related: 19 Companies and Industries With Radically Awesome Parental Leave Policies

The flawed, fragmented system makes it challenging to find an ideal donor

Cofertility recognizes the current egg-donation system is broken, and its failings extend to the sensitive process of reviewing and selecting the donors themselves. A universal egg-donor database does not exist.

“Intended parents are scrolling through funky online profiles,” Makler says, “or maybe their clinic is sending them a spreadsheet of donors where every donor is a row on a spreadsheet. Or maybe they’re looking at services that are sort of over-emphasizing good looks and things like that. So it can feel really out of touch with how important the decision is.”

Chirag, an intended parent who’s using Cofertility to build a family with his husband Mark, knows the struggle of the “hodgepodge” industry firsthand.

Both professionals in venture capital who’ve been together for seven years and married for three, Chirag and Mark moved from the Bay Area to New York City as the pandemic waned and “got more serious” about starting a family in March 2022. They decided on egg donation after weighing the pros and cons of adoption and surrogacy.

But pursuing egg donation proved difficult. Chirag recalls navigating hundreds of egg-donation agencies with “different barriers to entry” and encountering “inconsistent information” across their databases of donor profiles. Some listed hobbies, SAT scores. Others didn’t. Some detailed family health histories. Others didn’t.

This sort of PDF profile on paper…could be accurate or not.

The experience was “depersonalized” and “demoralizing,” Chirag says.

Then their friend Mollie Chen — a “Brooklyn power mom who seems to know what all the cool kids are doing” — told them about Cofertility. The couple liked the idea that Cofertility’s donors give their eggs because they want to start families of their own; they also wanted to meet the person who “would be half the DNA of [their child].”

“There was no expectation on our side that there’d be a long-term relationship,” Chirag says, “but at a minimum, [we wanted to go from] this sort of PDF profile on paper, which could be accurate or not, and actually just meet somebody, have a cup of coffee with them, look them in the eye and see if there was a good fit.”

Related: 9 Ways to Feel Human Connection in a Virtual World | Entrepreneur

It’s unusual for egg donors and intended parents to have contact

With traditional egg donation, it’s rare for donors and intended parents to share personal information with each other or otherwise communicate; in fact, donors almost never learn who the intended parents are, per the Egg Donor & Surrogacy Institute.

Unlike other egg-donation agencies that tend to focus solely on intended parents’ preferences, Cofertility wants to ensure donors feel good about where their eggs end up too.

“We think that women should really have a say of where their eggs go,” Makler says. “So, many of our intended parents will write their donor a letter to share more about them, to sort of even the playing field a bit. They want to make sure that the donor knows about them as well.”

It was meeting prospective parents that “sealed the deal” for Kristen. She left “confident about their values” and “the world they believe in.” “Even if I don’t one day have a child and don’t use the eggs, I feel like it’s such a good thing because I know that they’ll have a kid,” she says.

It doesn’t mean they have to be in contact all the time.

Naturally, the anonymity in traditional egg donation typically precludes a relationship between the egg donor and donor-conceived person down the line. But that’s shifting somewhat too, given the increased use of ancestry sites like 23andMe, Makler points out.

Cofertility values the potential for a “really meaningful relationship between the two parties” from the start.

“It doesn’t mean they have to be in contact all the time,” Makler explains, “but to have an understanding of where your child’s genetics are coming from or where your eggs are going can be really important for everyone involved — not to mention the donor-conceived person who ultimately is born out of this.”

Chirag and Mark aren’t opposed to having a relationship with their donor. But they also chose a donor through Cofertility over one who’s a friend or family member because they want some “flexibility.” “We could opt into something,” Chirag says, “but there was no obligation or preexisting relationship to think through or manage.”

Kristen is open to having whatever relationship the intended parents she matches with would like. “I think that they feel super grateful for me,” she says, “and I feel super grateful for them. We’re both opening up this opportunity for each other — I don’t see any world where there wouldn’t be any relationship.”

Related: 4 Strategies for Having a Career and a Family

“Choice is everything” — and women are taking control

Cofertility has already matched dozens of donors with intended parents and counts 170 Split members (women who are pre-qualified to match) in its database.

The company also boasts an all-women roster of investors led by Initialized Capital and Offline Ventures, with participation from Coalition Partners, Muse Capital, Arkitekt Ventures and the co-founders and CEOs of Figs, Hello Sunshine, Mented Cosmetics and more.

One thing’s certainly clear: Women want to navigate their fertility on their own terms.

“It’s a much more open-minded generation [of women] that’s doing things differently than those before,” Makler says. “They take a unique approach to their careers. They have unique viewpoints in general. Reproductive health is no different. These are women who are understanding of the fact that the way we build families is more dynamic than ever before.”

Related: 8 Ways To Empower the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Makler emphasizes that “choice is everything.” Cofertility exists to educate and provide options.

Now, as Makler and her co-founders look to the company’s future, they’re excited to grow — to give more intended parents the opportunity to have a family and more women the chance to freeze their eggs.

“We’re laser-focused on scaling our current offering and matching intended parents with donors,” Makler says. “It is the best part of what we do, and every time we make a match, our team is so excited. It’s the best feeling.”

Cofertility doesn’t have any babies on the way yet — but Makler says it’s “getting close to that stage.”

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With everyone talking about transformation in the digital age, it’s easy to forget that the biggest threat to business isn’t machines — it’s “old-school” companies acting mechanically. So, how do you successfully future-proof a business for the fourth industrial revolution? You stay human, even when embracing digitization.

In the ever-changing tides of consumer trends, only the most adaptable businesses will stay afloat and thrive. And yet, too many companies assume their target audience is made up of static individuals with fixed interests — a mindset that will sink even the most strategic business. Establishing who your true customers and consumers are, what they want and how to serve them is not a one-off process or a math equation. When it comes to keeping up with consumer trends, B2C businesses need to follow the ritual of retail: Identify, Listen, Observe, Innovate, Repeat.

1. Identify

For companies to give their customers what they want, the entire business must be aligned on who the customer is and how to serve them best. Employees operating within their siloed functions too often fail to align their own priorities with company goals. Leaders must encourage teams to see beyond their respective functions to appreciate the bigger picture of the business — AKA, reaching and satisfying consumers. For a B2C business to operate like a well-oiled machine, it must be powered by people united under a shared understanding of success.

Of course, none of this is possible until businesses have a firm grasp of their “true” customers vs. “true” consumers. Before 2019, global building materials company James Hardie was focused on marketing to builders and contractors rather than the dealers (the true customers). To better understand the people driving the dealers’ decisions, a specialized marketing team was brought in to analyze the demographic of homeowners remodeling their houses.

Results showed that female homeowners were the key decision makers in the remodeling process — AKA, the true consumers — and so the James Hardie team set out to reach this demographic in the market. By hiring popular home improvement TV hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines from Magnolia Homes (and Fixer Upper), the company’s reputation and trust skyrocketed among female homeowners, which in turn added significant value to the true customers (the dealers).

Related: Want Your Business to Succeed? Use These Tips to Understand Your Customer

2. Listen

Once your true consumers have been identified, it’s time to listen up. While machine learning is great at tracking consumer behaviors, there’s no substitute for direct, human conversation. While this communication may take the form of online surveys and focus groups, the most authentic and useful feedback comes from meeting your consumers in their own environment.

Within the consumer goods sector of multinational conglomerate 3M, this lesson took a rare, sticky form: a 3×3″ Post-It note. While product sales were booming in the U.S., the numbers were dismal in Asia. To better understand this disconnect, 3M sent a team of marketers and R&D employees to Japan to investigate. The feedback from Japanese consumers was overwhelming and consistent: “It’s just too big.”

3. Observe

Once you’ve listened to what consumers have to say, you must also observe what they do. Unlike computer analysis, holistic observation requires human empathy. By witnessing consumer behavior firsthand, one can identify not only usage, habits and attitude but also unmet needs — laying the groundwork for true innovation.

Through on-site observation, 3M was able to shed light on a crucial design flaw in the Post-It note: its shape was not yet inclusive of the ways other cultures write their languages — a fact that had not been considered in early prototypes. Whereas many Western cultures write from left to right, using the Latin alphabet, Japanese consumers write from top to bottom, using Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji characters. Thus, the size and shape of the only existing Post-It note were not conducive to the global workplace. By neglecting to consider a universal design early on, 3M had been severely limiting its market penetration in Asia.

Much like handwriting, the mechanics of what we do are often subconscious — especially when it comes to mundane or household tasks. Taking subconscious habits into consideration is essential for innovation. For example, while home appliance manufacturers such as LG and Samsung prioritized more high-tech capabilities for their multi-mode washer and dryer machines, Electrolux took a different tack. Between 2012 and 2014, Electrolux shifted its focus to include acute, consumer-driven research: rather than boasting an array of electronic gadgets and a fleet of engineers; the company conducted a series of behavioral studies.

Watching the footage from the staged laundry rooms revealed patterns in consumer laundry routines that the consumers hadn’t thought to articulate in earlier surveys. Wanting to dump the dirty clothes into the washer and start it as quickly as possible, consumers tried to do so without touching the dirty clothes — and by pressing as few buttons as possible. Such crucial, simple facts went unnoticed or undervalued by competitors, but Electrolux was able to capitalize on these learnings when designing a new model.

Related: 7 Things Customer-Centric Companies Do

4. Innovate

The difference between innovation and invention is both foresight and imagination. For companies to be authentically innovative, they can’t simply understand their consumers’ existing behavior, and they must also anticipate their future preferences, providing a personalized experience tailored to their unmet (and often unrealized) needs.

By investing in their true consumers, 3M and Electrolux were able to help drive transformation through innovation. By engaging directly with Japanese consumers in their own region and their own language, 3M was able to bridge the cultural gap and design a new shape of Post-It that better served a global workforce: the more slender 0.5×2″ Post-It flag was an international hit. Likewise, Electrolux’s next washing machine proved to be a crowd-pleaser in both form and function: the sleek design included primarily three simple buttons — colors, whites and activewear — and the machine’s new door feature allowed target consumers (women with an average height of a 5’7″) to open the machine with their hip, for an even more efficient and hands-free process.

5. Repeat

If your business was able to innovate new products and solutions by identifying, listening to, and observing your true consumers — congratulations! Now, do it again. Such is the nature of B2C business; like any relationship between a company and its target audience must be maintained and nurtured. The retail ritual is just that: habitual and ongoing. The storyboard is constantly being erased and redrawn. Despite AI’s increasing predictions, you will never know what consumers think unless you engage with them as people with ever-evolving needs and wants.

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