Running and Problem Solving

Not so much time to write something in my blog. Family, business, too busy, I know. But today I would like to share something because I think is very interesting. Something related to one of my hobbies: running.

Some years ago I had to start some sport activity for health, my work too often obliged me to have a sedentary life, too much I must say. Running for me was the right compromise:  I could do it everywhere, even during my business trips. Today I spend some hours during the week in Italy or abroad running in nice places, and the funny thing is that it seems that this activity helps me a lot to relax, to open my mind and to solve problems.

Since last year my work is quite complicated and I need to concentrate a lot, facing very tough situations and trying to change strategy very often. When I run I try to think how to solve my problems and i must say that it works. It seems that when I run my mind is more reactive than usual and I can analyze all details of my business in a very clear way.

IMG_0115When you run, depending the distance you plan to cover, you need to “organize” your efforts, trying to maintain a rhythm during some kilometers, going slowly when you climb or increasing your speed when going down using the slope to help you.

This kind of activity is stimulating you to better analyze problems, finding out the right way to isolate significant parts and setup the correct solutions. Simply speaking, exercise boosts your mental performance and I can state that is true.

Running is also helping you to improve your performance day by day, month by month and year by year. Is a matter of dedication, some effort and a lot of tenacity but at the end results are really impressive.

So I really recommend to my colleagues and followers to think about this simple activity that can be very helpful for your health and work. If you start with some slow and controlled sessions, you’ll see how you can improve. Results are really impressive.

2015 goals in a challenging business environment

January is gone and after one of the first important business trips spent in Europe and Asia, I take a while thinking about my goals for this year.

2015 will be a decisive year for my company. Youncta must reach a good level of customer’s bchallengease and start maintaining the revenue flow agreed with our investors. In addition, our sales strategy will be based on a very strict and selective attitude dealing with business opportunities: we’ll follow up them constantly, deciding if each of them will be successful or simply a lost of time and resources. We’ll try to avoid defocusing and concentrate our efforts in the most promising accounts.

Local and international partnerships are very important for Youncta, that’s why we need to clearly transmit  our objectives also to them.  Results must be assured in an effective way without spending too much time addressing wrong customers.

After a very tough 2014, the last of at least 4 years of very hard economic downturn,  our experience teaches us that there is no space for unnecessary business development activities. Besides that, in order to address our market in the most competitive way, we need to apply a strict and continue cost reduction policy together with new product releases with up to date features.

It will be a very difficult year but I can say that in our market sectors we can see a good positive trend. Customers are asking us for solutions that can permit them to make their networks grow in the most flexible and scalable way. We are receiving very positive feedbacks from many Countries where next generation networks are under implementation and I can state that in the future 3 years we’ll se an increasing demand for connectivity.

I’m very convinced that the coming years will bring us quite a lot of business but, as usual, we need to be ready to fight in this challenging business environment.

What I mentioned before is part of our commercial strategy, not so may concepts but very clear. Very clear as the fact that to be competitive we need also to excel in quality and operations.

Best_in_ClassI’ve been already experiencing what does it mean to loose customers because of bad services and poor quality and what I can firmly say is that today nobody has many chances to recover. Customers have many alternatives and don’t mind anymore if you’ll be the supplier or not. Sentimentalisms are disappeared, today rules are different.

Rules that oblige you to take decisions sometimes very difficult but vital for your company to survive. Talking about quality and operations Youncta will be very exigent with R&D and supply chain. We want to offer a very high profile product portfolio and services and because of that we’ll review our partnerships. Contract Manufacturing will be a key point of discussion.

So, this is what I wanted to share at this stage of our sales strategy setup for 2015. I would like to invite you to follow up me during coming months, more interesting arguments will come.

Once again a new challenge!

After many months without publishing in my blog I take the occasion to spend some words with my readers, now is definitely time to come back to you!

2014 was a very tough year for everybody. I have been involved with my company EdEr International in many projects focused on bursting sales worldwide, dedicating time and a big effort to try to reachIMG_0930 some acceptable targets. Fortunately results came and with them a very important opportunity for me. I’ve been part since the beginning of a new challenging project dealing with the Spin-off of an entire division producing microwave Point – to Point links. This operation started early last year and finished in June.

At the end, a new company called Youncta was born from the ashes of very old group to become in few months a new presence in the telecomErcole Rovida @ Sviaz Expocom Moscowmunication market.  Youncta has been financed by a big industrial reality from Siberia called Micran with the target to join efforts with Youncta and address the market with a new innovative andcompetitive portfolio.

I’ve been convinced to leave temporarily my company and join Youncta as Head of Sales & Marketing after some months evaluating the potentials of the new company in the market and discussing with the board members of Micran about our future common strategies. This is mainly the reason why I spent a lot of time away from my blog. Since August 1st 2014, the official date of my appointment I’m working full time to develop from scratch this new business worldwide, establishing new strategic partnerships and recover some customers we lost during the spin-off process.

From now on I’ll try to dedicate more time to my blog asking you to participate actively as well, contacting me as you please to propose arguments or comment my articles. I’ll be very pleased if you can.

So, looking forward to propose you new interesting treats.

Status quo is more dangerous than unknown

Nice sentence, really nice sentence that reflects a very actual situation experienced with some companies. After years fighting against a complicated market I can firmly state that one of the most critical attitute of many managers and their staff is to fight against the change and defending old rules and processes with all their efforts.

It is quite common inside companies that have to speed up their change that many people are absolutely contrary to follow new management and consequently new rules and processes. This is a matter of fact.
Is quite easy to avoid new challenges while thinking that things are going properly and there is no need to spend time, resources and money in activities that apparently (for those people) don’t drive you anywhere.

Is the most critical and hard to eliminate evil inside an organization. Those who hold this “conservative and strategy blindness” views are more likely to be closed-minded, conformist and resistant to change.

I have been experiencing this situation many times in big and small companies, there is no20131123-122732.jpg difference. This kind of attitude persists in every place where you see worsened or really bad business results.

The only way to overcome this situation when you enter in a company with such problem, for my point of view, is to work closely to managers and “convince them” that the only way to make things going better is to change accordingly to the market requests, showing clearly and if necessary rudely their business results and their trend and the way to make the situation change.
It’s not an easy job because you are new and for existing staff you are not so trustable. Nothing personal but everybody is thinking that you never could understand their company and the relative business dinamics.
Then you should adopt the bottom up approach in addition to the top down in order to spread as much as possible the new philosophy that must be followed in the company.
It will take time, often too much time compared to the slot you have for showing results to owners, partners or investors but this is how we need to proceed.

In parallel to this process we can call “awareness and acceptance of the reality” you should deeply analize the organization and key employees to see how changes must be applyed.

One point I considered really important and reminds me last article I posted some months ago, is that who is responsible to this transformation program must maintain key people informed motivated and engaged. Everybody must be aware that changes in the company are effective and business trends are improving or at least are not getting worst.

Second point that is quite critical and is an argument that nowadays is one of the most discussed is workforce reduction that unfortunately is a process quite often unavoidable. I don’t want to go deeply into discussion because is very complicated and must be treated with the help of and expert HR manager, but also in this case informaton is the key. All the relevant parts, syndicates, managers and social organisms must be kept updated on the evolution of the company justifying as much as possible and with the help of concrete information why some decisions have been taken and the expected results.

Hope that this few words can help some friends or colleagues involved like me in this hard situation, hoping that in a near future we could discuss about better and more relaxing arguments.


Success is coming if employees are engaged, aligned, and motivated to win.

Some days ago I was reading an article from a well known management magazine and I stopped thinking about a sentence I think is the essence of success in business: if you want to be really successful you must have employees engaged, aligned, and motivated to win. That’s the real truth!
I agree 100%.

During my experience in company restructuring, dealing with projec20130618-235240.jpgts less or more complicated, if you can’t count on employees who can feel part of the process, constantly up to date with your guidelines and motivated to reach your goals in a win-win approach, for sure you’ll not be able to be successful and you’ll absolutely feel to be a looser.

That’ sad but, believe me, if you are experiencing like me a deep process of company reshaping with a strong change management environment and you see employees not to be in such a mood, you should completely agree with me.

A leader must check everyday if his first line management and relative staff are following him straight to his objectives with dedication, proactivity, focus and motivation.
If this doesn’t occur he must setup meetings where he must spend some time to review the situation with his organisation, try to understand problems and, above all, involve people to make them be part of the game.

If necessary he should meet people separately but always with the aim to make them feel important and establish the most clear and open dialog.
Even the “less considered” employee can give important contributions.

Today business is becoming more and more complex and to be successful against competitors, gaining market share where many companies once very powerful, more powerful than your company, have lost, is really difficult.

With the right team of people, technically prepared and motivated to win, for sure will not be easy but the probability to reach successfully the goal will tremendously increase.
What I’m realising today is a tremendous lack of people able to stay with you and fight into the market. The actual downturn environment, constantly affecting behaviours doesn’t help.

I meet many people coming from different companies and the attitude is alway the same: depression, negative thinking, absolutely not motivated and more.
And I’m not talking about low level and not skilled people, not at all!
This is a huge problem in many organisations, sometimes not easy to solve and strictly depending on the management that quite often and unfortunately is affected as well.

I’m more and more convinced that this is an issue we are going to leave with for a long time. The remedy is obvious, managers must be able to make a deep change in their attitude, promoting all those actions made to improve or promote engagement, alignment and motivation.

And this must be done even if the same managers must put their trouble behind and hide worries. Without the right team, you’ll go not so far away.

Dear readers,
Hope this short talk will be of interest. My advice is to do all the best you can to make your people delighted to work with you.

You’ll be a winner, your team will be a winning one and your customers unbelievably happy.

Remodelación de la organización de ventas en un escenario internacional.

Muchas veces he tenido la ocasión de ocuparme de reorganizar, o bien remodelar un departamento de ventas cambiando completamente el rumbo y la estrategia comercial. Me gustaría compartir algunas consideraciones con mis lectores porqué considero muy importante hoy en día reflexionar sobre cómo ha cambiado el mercado y coBusinessmo una empresa tiene que enfrentarse a él.

Para poder hacer eso hay que fijar la atención sobre unas actividades fundamentales que antes eran solo típicas de las grandes empresas multinacionales y que ahora, tal como ha cambiado el mercado, tienen que ser parte integrante de cada empresa que quiera expandir su negocio hacia los mercados internacionales.

Estudio de mercado. En mi opinión, todas las empresas tienen que estudiar su mercado. Hoy ya no es suficiente tener una noción limitada y poco detallada del mercado que se quiere  tratar. Hoy es necesario tener un profundo conocimiento del mercado y especialmente de los competidores. Conocer el mercado significa saber cómo hacer una correcta estrategia de precios y estar seguros que las características de los productos son las requeridas por los clientes. Y  esto nos lleva al punto siguiente.

Estudio del producto. Estamos seguros que un producto que se vende perfectamente en Europa puede venderse del mismo modo en Asia? No es fácil decirlo pero es fundamental averiguarlo. Muchas veces hace falta un pequeño cambio en su presentación o en algunas de sus características para poder tener éxito en otro mercado. A veces necesitamos cambios extremos y es muy importante y estratégico saber decidir si merece la pena gastar tiempo, dinero y recursos para ir hacia un mercado que a lo mejor puede ofrecer menos de lo que se piensa.

Tenido en cuentas estas dos actividades fundamentales, podemos empezar nuestras consideraciones. El hecho que nombraras Estudio de mercado y Estudio de producto tiene una razón muy sencilla. Hoy los comerciales que no saben cómo enfrentar estas dos actividades, sin duda alguna tienen que apuntarse a cursos y ponerse al día porqué no hay vuelta atrás. Sin estos dos pilares del desarrollo de negocio hoy en día, con la globalización de los mercados y la guerra comercial que tenemos que enfrentar no se puede tener éxito.

El problema fundamental que he encontrado en muchas empresas es que la mayoría de las veces los “comerciales” son sencillamente gestores de cuentas. No desarrollan negocio sino llevan unas cuentas años, en situaciones extremas ni se levantas de la silla para ir a ver el cliente. Es una gestión puntual donde cada año se discuten volúmenes, precios y descuentos. Esto pasa por una sencilla razón:  hace unos cuantos años si tenias un buen producto,  tu mercado, fundamentalmente local, se ampliaba con un “boca a boca”, con la publicidad y no hacia mucha falta tener que luchar como hoy para mantenerte los clientes y buscar nuevos.

Está claro que con una fuerza comercial de este tipo si se pierde un cliente, es muy difícil tener otro y consecuentemente tu facturado se ve reducido periódicamente.

Entonces que necesitan hoy las empresas que quieren reorganizar sus departamentos de ventas?

Las empresas hoy necesitan comerciales preparados que tengan una experiencia de al menos 5-10 años en el extranjero y sepan manejarse en un mercado extremadamente variable con muchos competidores dispuestos a hacer el más duro  “dumping comercial” para poder ganar terreno y erosionar porciones de mercado.

Estos profesionales además de saber idiomas a un nivel muy alto tienen que revisar todo el portafolio de productos y/o servicios y decidir cómo enfrentar el mercado: manteniendo el mismo portafolio pero cambiando la estrategia de marketing o variando el portafolio eliminando productos obsoletos para concentrarse sobre otros más nuevos con buena penetración en el mercado.

Cada responsable de ventas debe “caracterizar” cada cliente preparando un plan comercial donde tiene que describir el cliente en los mínimos detalles, parte financiera, plan estratégico de inversión en nuevos productos, suministradores actuales, contactos y poder decisional en la organización….

Sé que parece un montón de trabajo pero solo así se  puede enfocar el cliente en la  mejor manera y especialmente saber  seleccionar los clientes que pueden ser estratégicos y otros que  no resultan apetecibles. En conclusión, se evita gastar tiempo, recursos y obviamente dinero en cuentas que no serán nunca rentables.

Reorganizar o remodelar un departamento de ventas no es fácil, en absoluto, pero hay que decir que tampoco es imposible, tenido en cuenta la cantidad de información que hay a disposición y que justo habla de cómo hacerlo. Hace unos años el networking y las redes sociales ni existían. Hoy podemos encontrar fácilmente muchísima documentación preparada por los más conocidos y eminentes expertos en materia.

No quiero pararme demasiado hablando de cuantos profesionales de ventas se necesita, todo depende de muchos elementos, empezando por la dimensión de la empresa, los productos, el mercado y la facturación deseada.

Lo que sí quiero subrayar una y otra vez es la profesionalidad y la preparación que tienen que demostrar estos perfiles comerciales. Independientemente del tamaño de la empresa.

Una última consideración. Un comercial tiene que ser comercial, aunque es muy importante tener una preparación técnica siempre más especializada, tampoco hay que pretender que quien vende tenga que saber discutir la materia técnica como alguien de I+D. Hay que entender que un comercial aunque tenga que conocer los productos que vende tiene siempre que ser suportado por uno o más técnicos. Para vender con éxito es fundamental el equipo técnico comercial.

Estos pocos conceptos que considero muy importantes son en mi modesta opinión fundamentales para poder empezar a moverse en este nuevo mercado globalizado donde se requiere una fuerte gestión del cambio, una consecuente versatilidad en enfrentarse a distintas situaciones variables y especialmente, una constante optimización de costes y recursos.

Sviluppo vendite e time to market

Una caratteristica del mio blog è il fatto di pubblicare articoli in diverse lingue a seconda della situazione, del paese in cui mi trovo o di altri motivi che influiscono anche inconsciamente. Oggi ho scelto di scrivere nella mia lingua natale perché quello che vorrei condividere è frutto di un’anaTime to Marketlisi che ho fatto sulle piccole e medie imprese italiane.

Dato per scontato che la situazione del mercato é alquanto complessa e viviamo situazioni tra loro contrastanti e che alternano momenti che fanno sperare a una ripresa e altri che ci spingono a pensare al peggio, analizzando le mia attività di sviluppo business ed internazionalizzazione presso diverse aziende sono arrivato alla conclusione che nella maggior parte dei casi la decisione di contrattare i miei servizi e di affrontare quindi un nuovo mercato o sviluppare l’esistente arriva assolutamente troppo tardi.

Per diversi motivi: paura di investire, incertezza sui risultati futuri legati a una nuova strategia di vendita, mentalità antiquata e totale avversione per l’innovazione, paura di sbagliare, controllo sommario sulla situazione finanziaria aziendale che può pregiudicare i rapporti commerciali con partner o collaboratori. Potrei continuare ad elencare decine di altri motivi ma preferisco andare oltre e riprendere il filo del discorso.

Moltissime aziende italiane hanno aspettato mesi, per non dire anni, prima di affidarsi a dei professionisti per rilanciarsi sul mercato, questo ha causato irrimediabilmente la perdita di quella finestra temporale utile a presentate in modo opportuno i propri prodotti o servizi.

Il problema fondamentale é che queste aziende in difficoltà ti chiamano solo quanto si rendono conto che la situazione é insostenibile e che devono fare qualcosa con la massima celerità. Ma qual’è il grosso problema? Semplicemente che si pretende di trovare una soluzione immediata grazie alla quale l’immagine aziendale migliora, i clienti aumentano insieme al fatturato e l’azienda come per incanto ricomincia a riprendersi.

Purtroppo questo in generale non accade mai e devo ammettere che nell’ambiente delle piccole e medie imprese é praticamente sconosciuto il concetto di time to market e tutto il processo legato al suo coretto raggiungimento. Molti imprenditori pensano di avere a disposizione i prodotti più belli e competitivi del mondo e pensano che solo per quello non ci sia bisogno di complicate azioni di marketing e comunicazione. Quando si prova a spiegare che ci vogliono dei “tempi tecnici” per entrare nel mercato ed avere successo, ti viene risposto che ti pagano apposta per ridurre i tempi ed attraverso i tuoi contatti riuscire a vendere rapidamente.

Altri seguono i tuoi consigli ed il processo di preparazione per l’indirizzamento dei settori di mercato selezionati. Poi perdono secoli a fornirti gli elementi necessari affinché questo avvenga nei tempi stabiliti. Si deve sollecitare più volte  la documentazione di prodotto e che ti vengano forniti i fattori differenziatori che potrebbero fare la differenza nel mercato. Una volta decisi i clienti potenziali, anche qui si ritarda nel fissare riunioni con conseguente prolungamento delle tempistiche commerciali.

E’ chiaro che non tutto dipende dal tuo cliente, spesso c’é altro che ritarda le operazioni. Per esempio nelle piccole aziende la tua interfaccia commerciale deve svolgere altre mille attività e non riesce a seguirti puntualmente, oppure non é sempre facile fissare riunioni nei tempi richiesti. In conclusione,  é proprio per questi motivi  che  i tempi si allungano e non si riesce ad essere effettivi.

Nella mia attività ho avuto modo di trovarmi decine di volte in queste situazioni. Alcune volte sono riuscito a risolverle, altre purtroppo no. Ho avuto casi in cui l’attività di vendita e sviluppo mercato é durata più di tre anni con dei risultati accettabili, e altri in cui la collaborazione si é limitata a pochi mesi senza poter concludere nulla.

Devo ammettere che questa é l’immagine attuale del mercato che sto affrontando in Italia. Si parla molto di rilanciare le piccole e medie imprese, di internazionalizzazione ma purtroppo vedo che risulta estremamente difficile avere successo se non si riesce a cambiare la mentalità di tanti imprenditori. Anche da parte del Governo ci vorrebbero delle azioni importanti che mirino a informare di più chi é intenzionato a partire con un progetto di “ri-ingenierizzazione” della propria azienda. E soprattutto devono essere estremamente semplificati i processi per accedere ai vari fondi, per la preparazione dei bandi e la selezione dei vincitori. Mi risulta incredibile che esistano dei processi che durino persino due anni. Come si fa ad essere presenti con efficacia nel mercato?

Siete convinti che  “time to market” può essere considerato un problema generalizzato che coinvolge tutti e che questo causa un incredibile stallo della nostra economia?

Are talented people retained by companies?

Some days ago I had a nice conversation about talented people and how they are treated by companies. After more than an hour talking about different experiences, I realized that in many cases these precious elements are not retained inside an organization and neither treated properly. Too often they are “obliged” to leave or even fired.

During my career I have faced many situations in which really valid people haven’t been considered in a proper way, myself included, and assigned to different tasks, 99% of the cases below their possibilities. The reasons why this happened were and still are many, I’ll try to synthesize them in the most effective way. Let’s see four examples.

retainLet’s talk about company restructuring, I’ve been involved in many of them. People are “mapped” in their positions and treated as numbers. Once the board decide the shape of the new company they start to move or cut people. Unfortunately almost never there is time enough and prepared HR able to select the right people for the right place and finally the results are really poor. I think many friends of mine know what I mean. Again, one of the worst enemies in this situation is time. Organizations must be reshaped in a very short time and this of course doesn’t help.

Another example is related to companies where the management and sometimes the board too, don’t want to be “menaced” by skilled people. It seems a joke but unfortunately is not. It is really depressing  to see that managers who could be really supported by those people, think that they could loose their position because of them. One of the most important thing I’ve learned during some management courses was the importance to have skilled people in your team and the fact that you can ascend most rapidly in your career thanks to that.  A strong, prepared and skilled team is a key to success.

Lack of meritocracy is finally the third reason. This is a general issue that you can find also in the previous examples, is part of the problem. Quite often people really prepared are not considered because they are not “supported” by someone with power inside the organization or again, HR is not able to identify them or evaluating them properly.  This situation causes a big loss of skilled people and who remains in the company works less because under-motivated.

“Old Fashioned management”. Be careful I’m not saying “old” management. I’m absolutely convinced that is a matter of mindset. I met people really older that me but more “up to date” on technology and innovation! Many times we meet people that it seems they are leaving like 15 years ago. Totally indifferent to what is asking the market, firmly convinced that they are gurus on his own competencies and you must accept what they tell you. This, as a matter of fact, is a huge problem and a big obstacle if you would like to be competitive in the market.  Strongly affects skilled people willing to give they full support for busting business and make organizations successful.

So, I think the previous points can arise good discussions and hopefully some readers of mine could also share some comments on that. To be honest there are many other reasons that influence negatively the life of talented people into an organization but I think the ones I mentioned represent a good part of them.

In order to reach a conclusion I must say that lack of meritocracy and poor retention rate is for me a characteristic quite present in Europe and for my experience in Italy and Spain is quite common.  I have been working inside many organizations and I must say that some elements concurring into bad performance are quite always related to what I just described before.

I really do hope that in the future companies could pay more attention on retaining their best employees. There are many ways to do it: developing expectations and make people think that they are REALLY part of the organization.

Talented people represent the highest value for companies and absolutely the best way to be present and successful in the future.

Doing busines fighting against uncertainty

Just back from my last business trip, I take a moment to meditate a bit on what is going to happen in next months. Which customers will continue cooperation with my company and which of them will unfortunately finish it.

uncertaintyWe are still experiencing tough times. Economic downturn is still “alive and kicking” and an element still affecting the day by day activities is uncertainty.

After founding two companies since 2009 I can say that the most unpleasant element which is always present everywhere is what I just mentioned. While we are fighting to maintain customers and do our best to expand their business, many times is hard to take strategic and managerial decisions because we are not able to retrieve all the elements we need.

First of all, and this is the most important one, because affects our balance-sheet is payments. Today many companies are working in a so called “limit situation” that means, you are the last of a chain of payments.

If your customer doesn’t receive money you are not paid or you are paid with delay. Another reason could be represented by the fact that you are considered as low priority because you are a consultant. Customers prefer to pay their employees first and then you. Again we are talking about delays. In this case I recommend avoiding dealing with customers paying you with too much delay. It’s better to look for new customers paying you less but regularly.

Anyway there are many other elements that influence this status of uncertainty like unclear sales strategy, management not properly willing to take decisions which may be very important for the future development of the company, products roadmaps not really established and respected, bad product performance and so on.

Having to deal everyday with this kind of “not so motivating” environment is quite expensive in terms of efforts and of course proper motivation. The unique way to fight against this is work at the highest level of quality and deliver a best in class service even when is not easy at all. This is the differentiator you must always show to everybody.

Today you are obliged mainly to live our business in this way and, above all, if you want that your company survive for the followings years, you are obliged to increase as much as possible your customer portfolio using a tactic I use to call “tireless”.

For doing this work up to 16 hours per day, trying to maximize my presence in social networks, maintaining up to date my company’s documentation for marketing and going to selected events where you can meet potential customers.

In this way, even I know is really hard, I can assure you that my business is going quite well and customer base is increasing, permitting me to be quite satisfied and happy to look at the future with a positive feeling.

You can ask why we should do this. The reason is quite simple. Customers acting in the way I described before are often unable to face the market in the proper way and sooner or later they will face serious problems. I experienced many cases where companies even closed forever. If you work with such kind of customers is quite sure that unfortunately you are going to lose them.

The market today is requesting high performance (see my previous post), good corporate image, best in class products and services. Competitors are so strong that you can win them only demonstrating that you are really better than them and, as you can see, is not always so easy.