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SAP Financial Excellence

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The region around Nice is famous for the smell in the air – lavender will be all around, mixed with the salty sea breeze. But there is something else in the air – finance transformation.

Join SAP Insider Financials 2014 in Nice and learn about how analytics can help your finance function in their current transformation phase.


CFOs globally are looking to transform their organizations, their processes, and their standing within the corporate culture – not too few aim at the CEO seat. This does come at a high price as they’d need to change the charter of their organization and extend into guiding the business to success.

An easy way to describe this is the following:


So in addition to core functional duties (meaning the finance operational side of the organization), twenty-first century CFOs also need to step up to blue skies (aka “drive business innovation).

Today’s finance department is responsible for securing funding of the company’s operations, sustainability, and processes of an organization. These responsibilities include financial operations / transactions, finance analytics, decision making, communication, and collaboration across the enterprise.

Finance experts are requested in a wide range of business operations, including the:

  • Development of the corporate business strategy for an organization,
  • Establishment of the policies, plans, and budgets that guide operational and ultimately, tactical, financial decisions, not to forget
  • Assurance of compliance and business performance.

According to leading analysts like Brian McDonough, Innovations in Analytics, finance organizations are urged to lead with innovation. “Three technologies — analytics, mobility, and in-memory — all play key roles in enabling finance personnel to collect, analyze, and take action on front-line information,” notes McDonough.Visualization and Predictive Analytics Will Be Highlighted at SAPinsider Financials 2014Talking about analytics leaves me with trending topics around visualization and predictive analytics, both of which are new to finance experts for two reasons – visualization was done via MS Excel in form of simple graphics and everything else but appealing, and predictive analytics was “this Ph.D thing” that nobody really understood.Both innovative processes will find prominent appreciation in Nice at the European SAP Insider Financials 2014 event which, by the way, also hosts the BI 2014 and are keynoted by Christian Rodatus and Irfan Khan. Who knows what great announcements in the analytics and finance space are awaiting the audience…And Finance Analytics is the base for any transformational undergoing regardless of industry, size and type of organization.Top 7 Sessions for SAP’s Analytics solutions for Finance at SAPinsider

  1. How to adapt the latest data analytics solutions from SAP to empower your finance teamHenner Schliebs, SAP, Analytics Audience Marketing
  2. A beginner’s guide to SAP Predictive Analysis: Definitions, terminology, and best practicesCharles Gadalla, SAP, Advanced Analytics Solution Management
  3. Lessons for rolling out a financial dashboard that supports your most critical decisions – Anurag Barua, GyanSys
  4. A leading expert’s guide to mastering SAP Business Planning and Consolidation reporting and analytics – Jarrett Bialek, TruQua Enterprises
  5. Operationalising analytics for business executives at SAP – Dean J. Eiwanger and Stewart Johnstone, SAP
  6. A comprehensive and up-to-date guide to SAP’s mobile analytics roadmap – Andrew Murray, SAP
  7. Case study: Lessons learned from Deloitte’s mobile BI deployment – Chris Dinkel, Deloitte


If you’re interested in a one-on-one, please let me know. You can reach me via email or @hschliebs. I am more than happy to share customer successes about how they leveraged technology to achieve financial excellence and shape the finance function of tomorrow…

This blog has been originally posted here: http://blogs.sap.com/analytics/2014/05/09/in-a-lavendar-mood-flowers-and-analytics-are-in-the-air-this-may-in-nice-france/#sthash.Jexc1q8A.dpuf

Join SAP, your peers, and our partners for the complimentary, customer-only SAP Financial Excellence Forum in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, on October 7–8, 2014. SAP - Please Register

At the two-day event, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn how SAP solutions can help you gain an integrated view of your finance functions, tap into real-time performance insights, and close the books quickly and accurately
  • Hear how SAP customers like Honeywell, Blackberry, ABB, Babcock & Wilcox, McKesson, Coca Cola, ConAgra, and CareFusion have benefited from using SAP solutions for finance
  • Learn about financial and management accounting, financial closing, product costing, integrated business planning, and lease administration
  • Test-drive the brand-new Simplified Accounting solution and hear about other technology-driven innovations like the central journal or product lifecycle costing for finance
  • Network with your peers, SAP experts, and other leaders in the finance industry

The SAP Financial Excellence Forum is free to attend, but space is limited so reserve your spot today.

If you have any questions, please contact Carsten Hilker.

Click here for a detailed agenda.

To register: SAP - Please Register


Featured Speakers:
Massimo Ciotola,Finance Center of Excellence, SAP

- Thomas Benthien, Director, Global IT Finance and Innovation, Unilever

- Jeff Thomson, President and CEO, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

- Gary Cokins,Founder and President,Analytics-Based Performance Management

Click here for a detailed agenda.


Current Partner Sponsors Are:



We are delighted to announce the dates for the upcoming SAP Conference for Financial Shared Services 2014. This inaugural conference will take place at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, GA, on April 9–10, 2014. It will offer opportunities for you to gather the latest news, facts, tips, and tricks, enabling you to utilize the power of SAP solutions to run best-in-class shared services.

What is the ROI and why should I attend? More informatio go to: SAP Conference for Financial Shared Services 2014 - T.A. Cook

  • Immediate return on investment – Take away the latest best-practice insights and knowledge and discover cost-saving technologies and processes as well as cost-effective ways to expand existing delivery capabilities in the world of shared services.
  • Leverage the experience from peer organizations and draw from a wealth of case studies, such as Colgate-Palmolive, and a variety of great keynote speakers, including Joel Bernstein, CFO of Global Operations US, SAP.
  • Meet and network with thought leaders and renowned SAP subject-matter experts and partners, who will share their abundance of knowledge.
  • Discover how SAP solutions can help you maximize the business benefits of your global shared services organization.

We hope you can join us for this not-to-be-missed conference on financial shared services for all this as well as numerous other SAP sessions, live demonstrations, and interactive workshops.

Ensure you’re fully up to speed with the latest SAP solutions and road maps as well as the current direction of the shared services industry.

The takeaway will be of great value to you and your organization.

For more information, please visit the SAP Conference for Financial Shared Services 2014 Web site.

Register today to attend the conference and learn how to enhance your shared services organization.

  We look forward to seeing you there!

Ever attempted charting the efforts associated with your period-end closing cycle? It shoots upwards during the last week of the month before plateauing again at the beginning of next week. You could color the area below the graph to make a pictorial depiction of the amount of mental effort that goes into the task. And it repeats every month. Have you ever wondered how to break free from this cycle?

Dealing with the closing spreadsheet is notoriously tiresome. Working with different types of documents and managing people and processes spread across different geographies and time zones and holiday schedules can be just as difficult.

In this webinar, we discussed smarter ways of managing period-end closures inside your ERP system itself, leaving behind all the troubles associated with the old, spreadsheet-based system.


See how the only truly integrated closing solution manages end-to-end closing processes for financial and non-financial SAP modules. Learn how to make the transition from your closing spreadsheet to a truly integrated closing solution.

Joe Kuncharia

Vice President
Runbook Inc.


There are many elements to a good strategy that will make your period-end close faster and smarter

The most essential requirement for anything in a race is to have a real-time knowledge of its position relative to the finish line. Anybody who is facing a deadline must have the basic and raw stats to ascertain whether he should move faster. If you don’t know where you are currently, you cannot figure out what to do to make progress and to measure progress.


Where are you now?
Most people are using an Excel-based method for close. People create what eventually turns out to be a Monster spreadsheet and they come back and update the spreadsheet so people can get a rough idea of the process. The flaw (now that we’re looking back at it from atop the technology horse) with this method is that you really don’t get an accurate picture of where you are.

In this step, you should integrate tasks and manage them in one place, preferably within the ERP system itself. If somebody performs a review or an analysis anybody who wants to look at it can access it to see where they are in the process, whether they are on time, why it is taking too long, and whether they have a problem to solve. The processes are now integrated and your solution gives you the true status of progress. That makes it a little faster.

Instead of relying on the users, the system starts with the process when the conditions are satisfied. You eliminate errors and delays inherent in a user-dependent approach. A crude attempt at automation gets some of the tasks out of the users’ hands. But to really make progress, to make the fast close even faster and smarter, none of this will be enough. You still have no idea when it will finish or what happens if it does not finish. You are not monitoring it. True automation is not just about running processes but also controlling tasks and verifying outcomes. With most solutions, this verification is performed manually. However, this stage is far better compared with where you originally were. You have a technically superior solution now.

Manage by exception
The solution needs to find an alternative to the manual way of looking at individual outcomes for anomalies. They should be selectively sorted and reported to you. This is achieved with exception management. You need a little bit of mental change to adapt to this. And the system and the solution should be able to do that.

True automation and verification need to be coupled with a proper workflow, which oversees collaboration and ensures completeness. The system runs tasks, controls and monitors progress, verifies outcomes, and reports problems. An exception will come to you instead of having a highly qualified and well paid human resource look for problems among a bunch of outcomes. Problems present themselves as exceptions, and he needs to address ‘only’ those exceptions.

Don’t push it to the month-end!
By automating closing procedures that usually need a lot of people and by executing them early you can lower the peak workload and flatten the curve. That has a direct correlation to the number of FTEs and associated costs. But you need to get to the fourth or fifth stage before you could reap cost savings; just ‘automating it’ won’t suffice.


Webinar: The only truly integrated closing solution is now powered by SAP HANA

Join us on a webinar to learn how to transform your closing cycle. See how the only truly integrated closing solution can manage your end-to-end closing process. Learn how to make the transition from the traditional closing spreadsheet to a truly integrated closing solution.

Date: Thursday, November 21, 2013
Time: 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern US Time

Register Now

For SAP customers, an embedded solution is able to provide live and complete drill down access to all the subledgers. But how does that improve the reconciliation process?


The advantages of reconciling balance sheet accounts within your ERP system are so numerous and varied. Having direct and complete drill down access to your subledgers in SAP is one of them. Utilizing this preferential access, you could drill down into, say, your accounts payable balances and analyze the data by breaking them down into different sections. You could break down AP balances based on aging and invoices that you are debating on with your vendors. You could look at the complete information regarding a particular balance such as the name of the vendor if you so desire. You could do similar research on and document information relating all your subledgers. Only an SAP-integrated solution can provide you this advantage. What this implies is that your audit documentation will be complete and extensive.


Now, assuming the reconciliation template has been approved by the reviewer, what comes next? If the documentation is archived in a repository connected to the SAP system itself, what is so advantageous about that? Is there any additional reason why you could rest assured on the integrity of your reconciliation documentation? If that is possible, wouldn’t that be truly beneficial?


Join us on a webinar on October 24 to learn more about the advantages of having direct drill down access to your subledgers in SAP.

How can we realize productivity improvements and cost reductions that were probably the raisons d’être for the existence of shared services, the ‘core business case’ for establishing them? These days we have an ‘app’ for everything and anything we can think of. And there are tools/utilities/software solutions for SSCs also. But what about an innovative finance solution that comes with industry best practices and improves the efficiency of your SSC?

Well, these are just two out of a lot of variables involved in the complex equations for a truly innovative and successful Finance SSC. We know some large organizations that have achieved a lot with their shared services centers by focusing on these two. Read a case study here to learn how a Dutch utility company achieved its SSC goals with the help of technology and industry best practices.


In November (11/19 - 11/22) we will have the chance to present to a broader audience our Analytics portfolio at the SAP Insider Reporting & Analytics event in Orlando.


We will be present with 2 slots:


  1. Uncover New Business Insights by Combining SAP HANA with Analytic Solutions
  2. Leveraging Analytics Solutions from SAP to Drive Value from Your Existing Investments


Both will have a more technical focus than I like (due to the audience), but also both will showcase the business benefits the finance organization will derive out of applying SAP Analytics solutions to meet the goals.


Please refer to any customer you are engaging with around BI, Predictive Analysis and the broader Finance Analytics portfolio like HANA Live for Financials, Fraud Management, Net Margin Analysis etc.


See you there,


Sometimes we do things for one reason and not only get the desired results, but acquire additional results somewhere else as well. An example is converting paper documents to an electronic format in support of green initiatives. Paper is indeed reduced, by those electronic also aid in minimizing lost documents, speeding up and enabling automated work flows, and generally completing the process faster.


Here are 4 more actions from which you can derive multiple benefits:


  • “Smart” data archiving and data volume management can dramatically reduce storage costs and boost system speeds
  • Improving audit efficiency by automatically performing tasks that previously were manual saves money
  • Decommissioning legacy systems minimizes support costs and mitigates legal risks, too
  • Automating SAP business processes such as accounts payable and accounts receivable tracks the process and provides visibility throughout which can also lead to better decisions and add to your bottom line

These hidden opportunities for cost reduction are just below the surface. Technology can help achieve business objectives In many ways that were previously ignored.

     Many of my clients facing issues due to increased open AR items. Companies are using different methods for a good cash flow but there are still questions out there that are there a full proof mechanism to get rid of this issue?



     I see different expectations from the market, as a Revenue Management consultant one has to satisfy the client needs.


    Turn back and look around different requirements coming from business –



  • How can I make sure all customers received open item notification
  • When AR Rep calls customer for outstanding amount is there any way AR Rep can also refer any open invoice coming due in next n days
  • There are customers in market who promises for payment but never paid according to promise is there any way to tag such customers?


Many companies used different method right from paper, fax to phone communication for collection management, but they are realizing that still something is missing in the process for a better cash flow.



There are some companies which take decision very quickly and make informed credit decision to reduce bad debt but question is that these are precautions we are taking for such kind of customers; our challenge on open receivables still remains the same.



I have seen some situations where good customers even defaulting, this is the case where huge number of invoices getting generated and electronically communicated to the customers, during the communication process either sender side or receiver side if anything fails and we do not have proper mechanism to track failure on time, this kind of situation arises. When collection agent calls customer that time agent realizes that customer don’t even have invoice at first place, now question is who is responsible for this outstanding account now?



SAP is putting all efforts to provide effective solution to this challenge via financial supply chain (FSCM). I wanted to highlight Collection management module which can provide all answers to open questions I mention earlier.



       Now, I have answers to the questions will that help me in improving outstanding balance? Sure but there must be outlined way for collection agents and this can not be successful without proper support from complete channel.

             what kind collection agent needs from entire channel ? think in this way – Companies are using all channel of communication for collection fax, print and phone but there are sales manages or sales rep who can put some effort and review .outstanding receivables during order receiving and they can remind customers this is your face to face channel of collection. What I am trying to reiterate here is back end end activity (Collection activity) should be visible to entire firm and front office (Customer service or sales team) should join hand with back office to make collection activity more effective.




Last week my colleague Bernhard Fischer took part in a webinar with the Hackett Group to discuss the latest market research about the best practices world-class companies have applied to maximize the performance of their Finance function through Shared Services. They also shared some of the amazing results they are achieving. This is all important stuff as CFOs look around for the next initiative to protect margins.

All you multi-taskers that were unable to attend the live event can now access the recording - please note: registration is required although it’s only your name and email that’s required. It is a very informative session about where shared services are today, and the future direction.

Link: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/273352150

I recently had the opportunity to present and meet with many financial executives during the CFO Dimensions conference, held in Chicago on Sept 18th. Directly taking the pulse of corporate finance is always fascinating, since no other forum provides the interaction and candor found within the cocktail reception and the ensuing full day of meetings. The particular area of interest for me was the topic of Receivables Management, and more specifically, trends within the Collections area. It was encouraging to find consensus among many regarding the direction of the new approaches for managing past due receivables, which was part of my presentation topic. So let’s look at some of these trends.   

Companies are realizing that outdated ways of handling delinquent accounts have not been successful in this real-time world we live in. Progressive companies are no longer waiting for an invoice to become past due, but rather are sending out reminders prior to the payment date. Also, there has been a pervasive movement away from the Collections process as a back office boiler room operation to a more customer-engaging front office one. Embedding Collections within a Shared Services call center has helped to leverage economies of scale and the benefits of consolidating these efforts. Improved collection customer segmentation has also developed based upon algorithms which combine the largest amounts due, oldest items, credit limit excesses, broken promises-to-pay, and other variables which optimize the approach.  Additionally, the education of the Field Reps regarding the importance of working capital and cash flow has altered the collection strategies.  Many companies now tie the commission payments of the Sales Rep to the payment of the invoice…what better way to engage the Field in the collection process? And Field interaction has an added benefit within countries where telephone-based collections don’t fit from a cultural point of view. However, we must keep in mind that technology is a critical element for enabling these changes and let’s review what’s needed to be successful...                                                                                                

Firstly, the foundation of the Shared Service center is necessary for the most effective collections strategy. Today, according to a recent 2012 Aberdeen study*, 67% of the Leading companies surveyed are delivering accounts receivable within such a landscape. Next, application software is required for the optimized customer segmentation in order to manage the multiple variables which impact the prioritization of collection efforts. And it should be noted that this process is an iterative one which should periodically be assessed and fine-tuned for the best results. Also, enlisting your Field Reps (and providing incentives) to help improve the payment cycle requires arming them with mobile applications which provide real-time customer data in an easily understood format. They need to arrive at the customer location with all of the necessary account information on their hand-held device (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc) so that any invoice payment discussion is reliable, timely and fully documented. And this information needs to flow back from the mobile device to the source accounting systems in a real time manner as well, ideally updating cash and liquidity planning too. Now that’s how the collections world is moving from back office to the front…and beyond.     


For more information about the SAP solutions supporting Receivables Management and the Collections process, please click here: SAP Receivables Management


* Source: Receivables Management for the Long Term: Balancing Collections and Customer Service, Aberdeen group, August 2012

Find out how to accelerate the transformation of your Finance function to a Shared Service.

Join this webinar to benefit from the latest market research from the Hackett Group, hear about best practices world-class companies have applied to maximize the performance of their Finance function through Shared Services – and the amazing results they are achieving.

Discover how SAP can help you unlock the technology promises and achieve the benefits of shared services for your financial processes through process optimization, workflow standardization and economies of scale.

Don’t miss this opportunity to pose questions to recognized thought leaders and give your Shared Services strategy a new and sustainable impulse.

Join us and find out:

·        What are the reasons behind the increase and success of the Shared Services model in Finance

·        How world-class Global Business Services organizations are now using Shared Services to support critical and strategic finance functions

·        Key benefits world-class Global Business Services organizations are getting from Shared Services over time

·        The key role of technology in driving Shared Services efficiency and effectiveness 

·        How to unlock previously untappable economies of scale with SAP Shared Service Framework

·        What is next in Shared Services and how to anticipate the trends with SAP Infrastructure

and much more!                                                            

This FREE webinar will be on:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012,

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM ET




Four months ago, we initiated an opt-in customer-facing newsletter! Each issue contains valuable information about SAP's portfolio for financial solutions, including SAP solutions for enterprise performance management; SAP solutions for governance, risk and compliance; and SAP ERP Financials. Read about finance best practices, relevant news and customer stories, and upcoming event details.

We have received very good feedback to date. Links to prior issues are below:

  • May issue: introduces the newsletter, announces SAP's leadership in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management, highlights a benchmarking report on travel and expense management, and announces several new rapid-deployment solutions.
  • June issue: highlights recognition SAP has gained as market share leader in EPM, GRC and ERP, recaps the SAP Insider keynote, promotes thought leadership in the financial close and in shared services, and highlights new releases focusing on disclosure management and XBRL, and finance solutions on SAP HANA.
  • July issue: provides an overview of how the solutions across different portfolios complement each other for a complete, end-to-end finance solution. New releases and demos focus on travel management, shared services and receivables management.
  • August issue: focuses on mobility apps and their value proposition for a finance audience, including the release of two new finance mobile apps that provide for insight into departmental spend and analysis of net margin, and highlights a news feature of SAP’s CFO.

Each issue also highlights five customer successes, either through video or a published customer success story, as well as upcoming events and webinars that are relevant to a finance audience.

To receive future issues via e-mail, subscribe here: http://www.sap.com/finance-newsletter

It’s increasingly expensive for big banks to maintain their size, especially while they face growing data management challenges, increased capital reserve requirements and regulatory surcharges.


Big Data Challenges 08-09-12-AConventional wisdom used to hold that a bigger bank could better spread its risk. With more assets under its control, a big bank can diversify to the point of almost absolute security. Sounds pretty safe, but eroding confidence in too-big-to-fail institutions has upended this model.


Increasing public, government and regulatory pressure have driven a corresponding increase in capital reserve requirements. Two U.S. legislators on the Senate Banking Committee sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Monday advocating higher surcharges for systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs).


Managing data is expensive too. But not managing data correctly also has its price, as Knight Capital demonstrated last week, when it held about $7 billion in stocks as its software broke down.


If You Botch It, They Will Come


“The likely truth of the matter is that Knight had no idea how much it could lose if its trading went awry,” Peter Eavis wrote in The New York Times DealBook Tuesday, exploring the limits of what data can actually tell us today. “Predicting the losses from a rogue algorithm is like predicting the losses from a tornado that turns into a hurricane.”


And if you think the market hates uncertainty, the public has steadily lost patience with these scandals since the financial crisis began in 2008. It’s no surprise that last week’s debacle prompted the SEC to step in as well, with new proposals that would require trading firms to disclose system failures and test changes in computer code -- invariably increasing the cost of compliance.


“Greater capital, stronger rules ... [and] more liquidity” are key to a more robust financial industry, Bernanke said at a town hall meeting in the U.S. capital recently. Regulatory regimes such as Dodd-Frank and the Basel accords could provide greater transparency to the financial services industry, preventing future financial crises, according to the Fed head.


But the kind of transparency that Dodd-Frank, the Basel accords and other regimes offer to regulators is pie-in-the-sky. That’s because the large institutions cannot provide it for themselves.


Illusion of Transparency


Pressure on banks isn’t going away any time soon. One of electronic trading’s first black eyes was the Flash Crash of 2010. Now, in addition to Knight Capital’s incident last week, experts are looking at potential faults in the foreign exchange market, as well as  possible software glitches on three exchanges.


Banks will have to become more efficient at managing unstructured data if they want to have a better picture of what’s happening within their domains -- and especially if they want to get regulators off their backs. But there are at least three obstacles to banks getting their act together, according to my fellow Trading & Risk Technology blogger Neil McGovern of SAP:


  • Executives are reluctant to allocate funds for the necessary technology.
  • Banks lack the viability to bring together all of their data together, including counterparty exposure.
  • Data management architectures take a long time to build.


And let’s face it: Patience is a virtue that too few possess.


It Ain’t Easy Being Big


Big banks face another hurdle to total transparency, aside from money, time and patience. As big banks acquire other institutions, especially other big institutions (e.g., JPMorgan Chase & Co.), they typically encounter problems integrating internal systems. Streamlining these systems can be a lot work.


Big Data Challenges 08-09-12-BThis often requires breaking down silos, according to SAP’s McGovern. Tools to fix this include scalable data stores and better databases.


“A world in which technology, product strategy and business models evolve faster than language may be a poor place to apply regulation based on participant silos,” as ITG’s Ian Domowitz noted in TABB Group on Wednesday.


Look to the Future


The financial services industry must regulate itself, but for more than just satiating the prying eyes of regulators, politicians and angry voters. Individual institutions -- and colossal conglomerates -- must do so for their own sake.


Big Data Challenges 08-09-12-CWith electronic trading systems, there is a lot of opportunity for error. But with so much at stake in the way of money, reputation and investor confidence, there is not a lot of room for error.


For four years, governments around the world have made it increasingly clear that there will be no more tax payer-funded bailouts. Spending the money and investing the time in effective data management and streamlining internal systems will help the bottom line and secure the future of financial services firms.




I’ll end with a tribute to someone who thought a lot about the future. Former NYSE Chairman John J. Phelan Jr. brought computer technology to his exchange in the 1980s. He passed away on Saturday at the age of 81.


“After the 1987 crash, which shook investors’ confidence in financial markets, Mr. Phelan coolly resisted calls to close the exchange, fearing that it would breed further panic,” William Alden wrote in Phelan’s obituary on Monday. “He rang the closing bell himself.”


Related Articles:


Two Senators Urge Raising Large-Bank Capital Demand” by Cheyenne Hopkins


The Dread of the Unknown” by Peter Eavis


SEC to Tighten Rules Following Knight Bailout” by Kara Scannell


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