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Neil Gaught & Associates

The Quaker way

In this article I want to talk about a company that will be 325 years old next year. Like many of its sector peers it has made mistakes and like many of those that have survived, it is in the midst of re-focusing and renewing itself using its values to guide its decision making. I am talking about Barclays.

The founders of Barclays were Quakers who, back in the 17th century, promoted and thrived on a reputation for integrity and trust. As well as Barclays they also founded Lloyds and Friends Provident. In manufacturing they established Clarks, Rowntree and Fry’s; in Japan Sony and in America John Hopkins University; the list goes on. Their strong beliefs led to the founding of Greenpeace, Oxfam and a founding partner of Amnesty was also a Quaker.  The Quakers were undoubtedly a force for good as well as enterprise – Barclays perhaps not so much.

Barclays’ name has been tarnished for some time. In the 1980s its involvement with the South African apartheid regime earned it the moniker ‘Boerclaysbank’. Since then it has been accused of money laundering, excessive bonus payments, tax avoidance, poor customer service, manipulation and fraud. The source of many of these ills for Barclays, and many others in the banking sector, was the Big Bang – the large scale market de-regulation which began in 1985-6 and peaked in the 1990s with the end of the Glass-Steagall Act which had prevented banks being both commercial banks and investment banks. The separation was ended, giving rise to the creation of mega banks. The battle for scale raged and competition was fierce. The loosening of rules also led to the loosening of lending criteria and the introduction of more complex financial ‘products’. The dramatic consequences in terms of higher risks has been the source of suffering for many in recent years.

Race for growth

It was in this context, and having been overtaken by National Westminster Bank in terms of profitability, the Barclays board responded by joining the race for growth. They bought Wedd Durlacher Mardawrit and de Zoet v Bevan in a strategy to become an integrated investment bank, Barclays de Zoete Wedd (BZW).

The need for scale as a prerequisite for success in an investment bank was recognised within Barclay’s by the CEO in 1997, Martin Taylor. He also recognised that Barclays lacked sufficient scale and recommended to the board that they exit investment banking. His proposal was rejected. In the years that followed the power of the investment bank traders increased, infecting the business with a virus-like transactional culture of strong competition, individualism and greed. The scale of Bob Diamond’s remuneration package still reverberates inside and outside the City of London.

Culture clash

Neil Gaught

Neil Gaught

In essence, the pursuit of a growth strategy (at all costs), resulted in a total cultural mis-alignment – the commercial banker and the investment banker are very different animals.  Viz the commercial (corporate or retail) banker being, as the name suggests, more customer focused. The commercial arm provides a range of banking services such as deposit taking, lending and day to day account support without offering strategic advice.  The investment (or wholesale) banker provides an entirely different service focusing more on strategic institutional support and advice in areas such as capital markets, trade finance, securities and equities as well as how financial products should be structured to maximize return.

This culture clash couldn’t more clearly illustrate management guru Peter Drucker’s insight “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

A series of scandals, from the LIBOR Scandal to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, has been blamed on this poisoned culture. Perhaps the most high profile being the 244 page independent report into Barclays’ business practices by the City of London lawyer Anthony Salz. He concluded “Significant failings developed in the organisation as it grew. The absence of a common purpose or common set of values has led to conduct problems, reputational damage and a loss of public trust”.

But herein lies the rub. Attempt to talk about the importance of values and ‘values statements’ and you are very likely to provoke a cynical response. There is a good reason for this. Many are meaningless rhetoric at best and poor attempts at manipulation and spin at worst. Particularly when the behaviours of leaders contradict them and nobody is actually encouraged or recognised for living by them.

Leading with values

It is for these reasons that I talk of the strategic importance of reputation before I talk about values. People intuitively understand the importance of reputation from experiences in their own daily lives. Using reputation to frame issues leads more naturally to the role of values.

So far I have used Barclays to explore what can go wrong when values are forgotten and culture drifts.  I now want to demonstrate how the current CEO, Antony Jenkins is trying to reestablish Barclays’ damaged reputation using values.

In March this year Jenkins gave a speech to the Carneige Council for Ethics in International Affairs on “Driving Competitive Advantage through Values-Based Leadership”. He informed the audience that he had joined the company in 2006 when the stock price was about £6. It peaked at about £8 pre-crisis and fell to 47p post crisis. Of this he said, “”So if you ever need an example of why doing the right thing is also financially productive and constructive, that’s the example”.

By “doing the right thing” he was referring to his long-term belief that, “…in the long term values-driven leadership will drive competitive advantage”. He added, “”You don’t get to be 324 years old without having to deal with the ups and downs of technological change, political upheaval, economic crises, and so on. You can only survive when you have strong values at its core”. Later in the speech he returned to the same theme saying, “”The one thing that we all know is that you can’t guarantee that things will remain the same in life. Life changes and you have to change with it, but always with the values as the guiding star”. “The way you respond to that change has to be in line with the core values of the organisation”. He went on, ”There is a saying that great companies change everything except their values. If you have a value system that can stand the test of time, through thick and thin, that keeps people grounded and focused on what they are doing, then I believe you will succeed”.

Commenting on recent history he said, “Banks were too aggressive, they were too self-serving and too short-term-focused. I have seen this in my own career of 30 years within the banking industry. Now, post the crisis a lot has changed for the better. Banks now have safer balance sheets, better risk management, and improved governance and supervision. But the culture of short-termism that permeates the industry can’t be fixed solely by regulatory reform and harsh words. It’s got to be rooted in people’s behaviour”. He offered the view that, “The real cure for short-term thinking lies in changing the way that people think and behave. There can be no choice between doing well financially and behaving responsibly in business. The last half-dozen years make it obvious that you cannot have long-term success without behaving responsibly. This has to be integral to how you operate a company”. And he later added, “”I believe that the [business] case for behaving responsibly in the long term is compelling. The strength of our brand is incredibly important when customers and clients make decisions to do business with us”.

These comments link to others he made in his closing remarks, “Now, let me finish these remarks by saying that none of this is about being soft or fluffy, about fulfilling a moral obligation. There are elements, clearly, of morality in what I have been talking about. But for me it’s as much about winning—winning in the long term for our customers and clients, because they can trust us; for society, because society can trust us; for our shareholders, because they can count on us for long-term, sustainable returns because of the way we run the business”.

In his speech and in the question and answer session that followed he acknowledged that change would take time; that he would have to deal with the cynics and manage resistance. In these respects his comments provide insight into his views on the importance of values, culture and reputation and the interdependence between them, and between them and better performance.

Referring to the time he thinks it will take to bring about change he said, “We have to recognise that deep-rooted cultural change of the type I’m talking about at Barclays will take time—in my view, somewhere between five and ten years”.

On needs, on values, on leadership and on resistance

On personal needs he said the crisis had been, “Devastating for the people who work inside banks to be pilloried all the time in the media. People come to work wanting to do a good job, wanting to make a difference, wanting to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves. And of course, our customers and clients want to feel that they are doing business with an institution that they can trust, that has honour at its heart, that has ethics at its heart”.

On leadership and embedding values in the culture he said, “It’s the responsibility of leaders to set the benchmark for how people are expected to behave and hold them to account against this benchmark”, adding, “I often think that ethics in my own rather simple definition is about doing the right thing in the right way. That’s what leaders have to do if they are to drive the culture inside their organisations”.

On values he said they had developed, “A common set of values, which we feel are fundamental to our long-term success”. These values are respect, integrity, service, excellence, and stewardship. He noted that, “respect, integrity, service, and excellence you might say are pretty standard. [But] stewardship is different, though. Stewardship is really about the notion that all of us who work at Barclays have an obligation to leave the institution fundamentally stronger through our work than when we joined. Now, it’s a subtle concept, but it is actually profound in shifting the thinking towards long term”.

He offered some insight into how the goals will be achieved in practical terms, “All of my 140,000 colleagues have been to a half-day workshop on what the values mean delivered by 1,500 ‘values leaders’ across the group, and we have programmes for new joiners that will essentially expose them to these concepts and what it means to live them day in and day out at Barclays”. Returning to this subject in reply to a questioner who asked whether or not each business organisation should have among its professional ranks a person devoted solely to the issue of ethics he said, “I think the idea has got some appeal on one level. But I also think it’s a bit like quality or leadership. If you have a department of quality or a department of leadership, you take the responsibility away from everybody in the organisation for living ethically”.

This reflects my own rationale in arguing that corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability should be embedded, not seen as separate roles or departments. He added, “But I do think that leadership is incredibly important in large organisations—and in small organisations, actually. Leadership sets the tone, the culture, in the organisation, which then drives organisational performance”.

On dealing with cynics he said, “Inevitably, we have our cynics and sceptics, we have our critics.” and, “They have called me ‘Saint Antony’ in the media in the UK because they think that I am hypocritically clothing myself in these values as a way to distract attention from what’s going on at Barclays”. But he says, “I recognise that what matters is not public commitment to change but, rather, demonstrating change over time and to earn the trust and permission to be believed—and we will do that. But it also falls to leaders to show resolve and stick to their principles in the face of difficult moments, including taking tough short-term decisions for longer-term benefit. This is really the heart of our value of stewardship”.

On resistance he said, “In an organization of 140,000 people, you are going to have, inevitably, some people who do not live up to the standards that we are setting. So I see the culture, as defined by the values, as being the sort of oxygen that gives people permission to do the right thing, and also the sort of antibodies that immunise it from doing the wrong thing”. He has also been tough and let people at every level know that if they are not for change then they ought to be working for another company. The biggest critics may be the markets. As an indication of this one questioner asked, “”Does ethics raise the value of Barclays stock?” to which the reply was, “I do believe that the decisions that will be taken by an ethical organisation will ultimately result in greater value being created and, therefore, a higher value on the organisation. Now, why do I think that? Firstly, because all businesses depend on trust, but banking depends on trust more than any other business. You give me your money and you expect me to give it back to you at some point in time. There is no greater trust in the commercial sense than that. So if you have a strong level of trust within the organisation, then you are likely to win more business from your customers and clients. You can see that driving revenue. But there is also a sense in which an organisation that has to solve a far more complex objective than just maximising short-term profit, has to be a more capable organisation”.

On embedding values and changing behaviour he says “If what gets measured gets managed, measuring the wrong thing matters!”  In most companies reporting (read measuring), is almost exclusively financial in focus, despite there being general agreement that intangible assets (people, intellectual property, reputation etc.) are the real drivers of future value. In short, new metrics are needed; financial and non-financial measures. Jenkins said, “One of the things that we have done, which is unusual, is we have published a list of eight commitments for Barclays out to 2018, eight commitments with hard targets. Only two of them are financial. Two of them measure the strength of our relationships with our clients in the institutional sector; two measure our relationship with our customers in the retail sector; two are about our colleagues and their level of engagement and diversity within the organisation; and two are about how society regards us. I believe that if we deliver those commitments in 2018 we’ll have a much stronger, more capable organisation, and therefore the financial performance will naturally rise as a result of that and the valuation of the organisation will rise as a result of that. But I would be the first to admit that this is a work in progress”.

Corporate idealist

I want to conclude by saying that on the basis of his speech I see Antony Jenkins as a “Corporate Idealist”, a concept Christine Bader explores in her book The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist. She describes Corporate Idealists as individuals who believe that business is the one institution that has the potential to solve the world’s problems more effectively than any other, and that doing so is just good business. These leaders advocate business with a focus on a higher purpose, with social purpose as a core activity that is embedded, not an additional extra. If Jenkins is a Corporate Idealist, his trick is going to be persuading his workforce to embrace his ideals and become idealists themselves. I suspect it will be a difficult challenge given the track record of companies like Barclays, who seem to indicate that values are only valuable when repairing the results of a reputational crisis. What they value most of the time is what the market values above all – and that is profits. The question is how do we change that?

Adapted from an article first published by Paul Barnett, Founder & CEO, Strategic Management Forum July 27th 2014.


What Skills Does a Data Scientist Need?



What Skills Does a Data Scientist Need? 2

In this modern and complicated time of economy, Big data is nothing without the professionals who turn cutting-edge technology into actionable insights. These professionals are called Data Scientists. Modern businesses are awash with data and many organizations are opening up their doors to big data and unlocking its power that increases the value of data scientists. Data is one of the most important features of any organization which helps to make decisions based on facts, stats, and trends.

As the scope of data is growing, data science came up as a multidisciplinary field. Data science is an integral part of understanding the working of many industries, complex or intricate. It helps organizations and brands to understand their customers in a much better, enhanced, and empowered way. Data science can be helpful in finding insights for sectors like travel, healthcare, and education among others. Its importance is increased as it solves complex problems through Big Data. With data science, companies are using data in a comprehensive manner to target an audience by creating better brand connections. Nowadays data science is taking an important and big prime role in the growth process of brands, as it is opening new fields in terms of research and experiments.

Let us know about the much-hyped role of a data scientist, the skills required to become one, and the need to take data science training.

Who is a Data Scientist?

Data Scientists are the individuals who gather and analyze large sets of structured and unstructured data. It combines the roles of computer science, mathematics, and statistics to create actionable plans for companies and other organizations. They gather, analyze, and process the data and then find the filtered results. Their work is to make sense of large, messy, and unstructured data using sources such as social media, smart devices, digital channels, emails, etc.

In other words, data scientists are analytical data experts who solve complex problems through technical skills to explore what problems need to be solved with available data. They are struggling with data all the time and experimenting via complex mathematics and statistical analysis. Usually, data scientists are required to use advanced analytics technologies such as machine learning, advanced computing, and predictive modeling. They use various types of reporting tools and analytical skills to detect problems, patterns, trends, and connections between data sets. Their goal is to provide reliable information about campaigns and consumers that help companies to attract and engage their customers and grow the sales.

A job of a data scientist is also known and advertised as a machine learning architect or data strategy architect. Data scientists generally require enough educational and experiential background of big data platforms, tools including Hadoop, Pig, Hive, Spark, and MapReduce and programming languages such as SQL, Python, Scala, and Pearl; and computing languages like R.

Skills Needed To Become a Data Scientist

To become a data scientist, it is recommended to have a master’s degree. This means a very strong educational background and the deep knowledge is must-required to become a data scientist. You must have a bachelor’s degree in any stream such as computer science, Physical science, social science, statistics, and mathematics or engineering.

The skills required to become a data scientist are categorized into technical and non-technical. Some of them are mentioned below:

Technical Skills

● R Programming

R is specially designed for data science to deal with big data. It is generally preferred for data science to gain in-depth knowledge of analytical tools. Almost 43% of data scientists are using R to solve data problems and statistical issues.

● Python Coding

The most required technical skill to become a data scientist is having the knowledge of the most common coding language that is Python along with C, C++, Java, and Pearl.

● Hadoop Platform

It is the second most important skill to be a data scientist. This platform is heavily used in several cases. Hadoop is used to convey the data quickly to different servers.

● Apache Spark

It is becoming the most popular big data technology in the whole world. Just like Hadoop, it is a big data computation framework, but it is faster.

● SQL Database/Coding

With SQL database and coding, data scientists are able to write and execute complex queries in SQL.

● Data Visualization

A data scientist can visualize the data with data visualization with tools such as ggplot, d3.js and Matplottlib, and Tableau.

● Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning techniques include reinforcement learning, neural networks, adversarial learnings, etc. Along with it, supervised machine learning, decision trees, logistic regression can help you stay ahead from other data scientists.

Non-Technical Skills

There are also some non-technical skills such as Intellectual curiosity, Communication skills, Business acumen, Teamwork, etc. that can make you a successful data scientist.

Ready to Learn Data Science?

Data Science is nowadays a buzzing word in the IT sector. It has become an evolutionary technology that everyone is talking about. Several people want to become data scientists. It is a versatile career that is used in many sectors such as health-care, banking, e-commerce industries, consultancy services, etc. This career is one of the most highly paid careers. Data science careers have been always in high demand so the seekers have numerous opportunities to start or boost their careers.

It is a widely abundant field and has vast career opportunities because there are very few people who have the required certifications and skill-set to become a complete data scientist. You can gain these skills by enrolling in an online data science training program. By learning from industry experts, you will have a strong foundation of data science concepts. You’ll also be able to work on different data science tools and industry projects through a training course. So it’s the right time to get certification and grab the golden opportunities in the Data Science career.

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How to use data to protect and power your business



How to use data to protect and power your business 3

By Dave Parker, Group Head of Data Governance, Arrow Global

Employees need to access data to do their jobs. But as data governance professionals, it’s our job to protect it. Therefore, we must perform a fine balancing act to weigh robust data protection against the productivity of workers who need the data to maintain business-as-usual working processes.

Data grows exponentially, and most organisations will admit that they simply don’t know what data they have, where it is, and the controls that exist around it. This creates 2 challenges:

  1. Burgeoning amounts of unstructured data makes the business increasingly vulnerable from external attackers or internal data breaches.
  2. Because data is the key to understanding a customer’s wants and needs, if the business can’t identify its data and unlock its value, it’s at a competitive disadvantage.

As a European investor and alternative asset manager, here at Arrow Global we take care of £50bn of assets and own a data estate exceeding 160TB. How we manage our data is key to our success. We understand the difficulties involved in opening up environments to allow people to work productively, while at the same time locking them down to protect our organisation.

When it comes to analytics, I believe that Arrow is highly proficient because we employ a talented team of data scientists. But even for us, the sheer volume of raw and processed data, that resides in both our structured systems and unstructured data repositories, has the potential to put our business at risk.

We know there’s always more that can be done to strengthen our security posture and ensure regulatory and contractual compliance, while at the same time using our data to drive the business forward.

Data protection isn’t just about compliance

For many organisations, data protection has centred on demonstrating compliance with the GDPR. At Arrow, our efforts have gone one step further to include our contractual exposure.

Being a more mature data organisation, we had previously tried to develop an application in-house to manage our data estate. However, with 160TB across the company in production data alone, we simply couldn’t achieve the scale we needed to handle the sheer volume of data. Of course, the volume is just the start – once you know what data you have, you then need to be able to categorise the data and put it into a structure, so the business can analyse it for a specific use case.

We knew we needed to go to market to find an industrial-strength data discovery product to replace our in-house application. By aligning our choice of product to our overall IT and change strategy, meant that ultimately, we ended up with a far better outcome than we’d anticipated.

Position data as both a risk and an asset

Data touches every part of an organisation, so when it came to building a business case for buying-in a data discovery software platform, we approached it in a way that would speak to different people at the same time. We did this by posing the question:

“What do we want to do with data in a way that is GDPR-compliant, contractually-compliant and enables us to better service our clients?”

These are the black and white tests of data governance – to recognise the importance of securing and protecting data. They’re applied in a way that enables us to commoditise data and use it to drive the business forward, by forcing us to consider how we would use the data – for example, creating value-based pricing for our clients.

In aligning the business case to initiatives that were already priorities within the boardroom, we knew that we’d gain the attention of the senior leadership team and it would be easier to get the buy-in and budget we needed. And in the end, everyone wins – we get what we need to protect the data, and the business gets to distil the data’s value to better meet our customers’ expectations.

Dave Parker

Dave Parker

Get visibility of data at scale

For us, things got really exciting once we were able to see all of our data at scale. We chose Exonar because it allowed us to discover our data in ways that other products couldn’t. And the interface between the user and Exonar meant that everyone – both technical and non-technical users – could understand the technology and the findings it revealed.

When we saw exactly what data was in the estate, where it was and who had access to it, data security became much easier and the risk of data being compromised was dramatically reduced. We can see exactly where the vulnerabilities are and restructure how our data is stored to strengthen security. Then over time, we can use search, workflow and analysis to optimise the infrastructure and continually identify new areas to improve.

Commercialise the data

From a wider-business perspective, once people can see the data, they can start asking “What if…” to query it and distil its value. But it’s more than just the data itself. It’s not uncommon for data relating to the same thing to exist in unconnected systems across the business. For example, customer interactions and incidents or events.

Exonar is capable of joining the dots in disparate data sets. By stitching these data sets together, we can get a better overall view of our customers and use the outcomes to think of new, different or better ways of serving them through enhancing or adapting our offerings.

Why other financial services businesses should also take a smarter approach to data

  1. By changing the way you approach data, you can use it to protect and power your business and the people you serve.
  2. By positioning data as both a risk and an asset, you elevate its position to give it priority in the boardroom. Ultimately, it’s data that helps the business make informed strategic decisions about how to strengthen its competitive advantage.
  3. By gaining visibility of data at scale, you can see exactly what data you have and where it is. This gives the business confidence about the actions needed to ensure it is secured in both a regulatory and contractually compliant way, and that people are doing the right thing with data at all times.
  4. And joining different data sets provides you with a single view of ‘X’ within your data, no matter where it is. Helping to support your wider-business strategy and priorities, it gives you the information you need to secure a business advantage and generate value.
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How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI



How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI 4

By Andrew White is the ANZ Country Manager of business transformation solutions provider, Signavio

The digital world moves quickly. From keeping up with consumer behaviour patterns, to regulation and compliance, the most successful organisations are always on the cutting-edge of technological developments.

However, when it comes to investing in artificial intelligence (AI), a hard and fast strategy does not guarantee a top spot amongst the league of tech greats. Instead, it pays to take a considered approach to balancing reliance on automated processes with a human touch. Why? Because creative and strategic thinkers are the true propellers of innovation; automation is simply the enabler.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) developed the ‘Routine Task Intensity’ (RTI) index as a measure of which processes are likely to benefit most from automation. According to this metric, jobs requiring analytical, strategic, communicational and technical skills score low on the RTI index, while simple, repetitive tasks scored highly.

The lesson for business leaders here is simple; your digital investments are just as important as your stake in talent. When deciding which processes to automate, start simple, and remember to value the skills and potential of your people.

Keep customer-centricity at your core

Customer-centricity means that every business decision, dollar spent and new hire is centred on one question: how does this benefit my customer? Investments in AI are no different. To be truly successful, they must have a customer-focused outcome.

Where companies get this wrong is by implementing cost-saving measures or ‘copy and paste’ software that fails to improve the customer experience – often having the adverse effect.

Take the virtual chat-bot, for example; if implemented poorly, it can send your customers into a frustrating and seemingly infinite cycle of dead-ends. The modern consumer is far too digitally savvy for this shortcut, and will quickly move onto the next merchant offering a more seamless customer service experience.

To guarantee your investments are delighting rather than infuriating your customers, it helps to take an outside-in perspective of your business processes, aided by Customer Journey Mapping (CJM).

Before you commit to digital investments, CJM can trace and map each customer touchpoint, signalling pain points or conversion rates throughout their journey. These data-driven insights lead you to the areas that would benefit the most from automation, instead of implementing a broad band-aid solution.

Avoid the ‘set and forget’ method 

When investing in enterprise-wide AI, the ‘set and forget’ method rarely works. Real transformation requires an ongoing dedication to refining and improving AI-driven processes, as well as adapting them to the evolving needs of your customers. This is the best way to achieve customer loyalty, by proving that your organisation listens to, and understands its users.

A human perspective is invaluable here, paired with process mining – a method that thrives on finding process inefficiencies – to create a consistent feedback loop of improvement.

During periods of uncertainty, customer loyalty is everything, so aim to protect it at all costs.

The power of your people

The rise of automation can be linked to the corporate world’s obsession with speed and efficiency. However, the psychology behind this goes deeper than being the biggest and fastest producer; it’s also about reallocating resources into attracting and retaining the brilliant minds that drive companies into the future.

When communicating digital change, it’s critical to highlight the valuable impact AI has on augmenting jobs; removing the burden of mundane, repetitive tasks and allowing for more strategic skill-sets to shine through. For lower-skilled workers, invest in upskilling or re-education where possible.

Successfully rolling-out digital transformation plans means that every employee across all tiers of your company understands the value of AI. The starting point here is education to achieve buy-in. Change communications must be accessible, constructive and value-focused, supported by key culture influencers who champion automation within teams.

Enterprise-wide buy-in is an important element of refining and improving digital processes, as cross-functional collaboration can offer valuable insights into common pain points or inefficiencies ripe for automation. Supported by process mining, collaboration provides a holistic view of how each investment will impact other processes. There is no point investing in automation that streamlines one process and makes another more people-centric, so be sure to take a balanced approach to your investments.

Remember, AI is not about creating an army of robot workers; it’s about increasing efficiency and productivity so that an organisation, and its people, can work smarter.

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By Jeff Carlson, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4 and Take Control of Your Digital Photos suggests “the product you’re creating is...

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