Your Inventory Is Stuck. Here’s How To Speed It Up, Keep Customers Happy, and Avoid Problems In The Future

Dozens of ships are languishing in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, carrying $26 billion in goods, according to an estimate last week from Chattanooga, Tennessee-based media and analytics company FreightWaves. The Biden administration has implemented initiatives to help, noting that the two ports account for 40 percent of shipping containers that come into the U.S.

The efforts won’t be enough, says Anthony Coombs, founder and CEO of Splendies, a subscription-based underwear seller. Because of everything from clogged ports to a shortage of truck drivers to extraordinarily high demand for goods, the supply chain struggle has continually gotten worse. “This is what we call ‘the shipping apocalypse,'” Coombs says.

Coombs and Adam Compain, senior vice president of global product marketing at Project44, which helps companies manage supply chains and logistics, spoke at an Inc. 5000 Vision Conference event on October 21 on supply chain woes. Here are three tips they offered for dealing with the crisis.

1. Plan far ahead

Coombs says his biggest regret was not realizing immediately how bad the supply chain crisis was. At first, the company planned an extra month out for getting inventory. Now that it better understands how serious the situation is, he says, “We’re not pulling any punches.” Splendies plans to be supplied for all of 2022 before the end of this year.

2. Talk to consumers

A difficult aspect of the global supply chain is the data is just not good, which makes life even more challenging for sellers, Compain says. Customers tend to respond best to having access to information, he adds–if sellers can better know and predict when things will arrive, they can plan ahead, figure out the best carriers, and be transparent with customers to maintain goodwill.

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Coombs says Splendies’s focus has been on communicating with customers, including adding a detailed notice about shipping delays to its website. When a product was delayed by a few weeks in September, the company sent emails, blogged, created videos, and, most important, tried to “set expectations low so [we could] hopefully exceed them.” When you tell a customer something is going to be late, and it gets there a little earlier, that is always better than having to communicate two separate delays, he advises.

3. Jump on a boat (or a plane)

If you haven’t planned yet for the holiday season or are already behind, only one solution is left to you, says Coombs: to air freight your goods. He estimates that can costs tens of thousands of dollars, which you have to weigh against keeping your customers happy.

Recently, someone told Splendies that a shipment scheduled for November wouldn’t arrive until late December. So Coombs paid people to drive six hours in China to pull two containers off a ship and air freight the contents. He was able to pull that off, he says, because he’s been working with the supplier for several years

It also can help to go straight to the source of the delay: Coombs says he went to a port and asked about a shipment that had been stuck for about two weeks. He talked to a security guard and offered a year of free underwear if they could get the shipment. “We did get our stuff the next day,” he says, but the guard never cashed in the offer.

Source: Your Inventory Is Stuck. Here’s How to Speed It Up, Keep Customers Happy, and Avoid Problems in the Future | Inc.com

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The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and The Cloud

At the beginning of the pandemic, Blackboard, an EdTech company, was faced with a 3,600% increase in demand for their virtual classroom. Zoom, a video communications company, went from 10 million users to 300 million. Vyaire Medical, a respiratory device maker, saw demand increase from 30 units per week to almost 1,000 per day.

In addition to the hardworking people and supplies required to meet these unprecedented demands, companies have relied heavily on their IT infrastructure, including compute, storage, and analytics, to power through the pandemic. Cloud computing, in particular, has helped these organizations manage the challenges of agility, cost, and scale.

Most people don’t think about things like compute that often. But as the VP of Amazon EC2, a web service that provides compute capacity at Amazon Web Services (AWS), I think about it a lot. And during the pandemic, I’ve seen a major shift in organizations moving to the cloud and a mental shift in how they think about their IT department.

Cloud economics

With cloud computing, organizations get pay-as-you-go, on-demand access to virtual computers on which to run their applications. Instead of buying, owning, and maintaining physical data centers and servers, they pay for infrastructure as they consume as a variable expense, at a price lower than virtually any company could achieve on its own.

In the cloud, organizations can provision thousands of servers in minutes, as opposed to the months it would take to get a server up and running on premises. So when an organization, like the ones I mentioned earlier, experiences a sudden and unexpected increase in demand, they can quickly scale up. Alternatively, if business is slow, they can reduce capacity just as easily so that they don’t have to pay for something they aren’t using.

In addition to compute, organizations can access many other services in the cloud. In fact, at AWS we have over 200 services—from infrastructure technologies, like compute, storage, and databases, to emerging technologies, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, data lakes and analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The new role of IT

Because of the pandemic many organizations have found themselves in uncharted territory, and it’s their IT leaders they’ve turned to for direction: How can we scale to meet demand? How can we save money while business is slow? How can we set up thousands of workers with remote access?

In the past, many organizations viewed their IT department as a support function—order takers. But with the emergence of disruptive technologies, such as ML, IoT, and serverless computing, IT leaders are getting their seat at the table. Now, more than ever, they have a huge hand in an organization’s success and planning for its future.

Even though the pandemic isn’t over yet, most organizations have adjusted to the new normal. That’s what makes now a great time to rethink, reimagine, and innovate with a stronger partnership between the business and IT.

The right tool for the job

A good partnership with IT will reveal to a business the vast amount of tools available to them as they reimagine how to create stronger business continuity and a lasting competitive advantage. But the truth is that an organization can start creating a meaningful impact by focusing on something as basic as compute.

At AWS, we have the broadest portfolio of compute options. As a result, our customers can customize their compute for each of their workloads, such as ML or high-performance compute, to get the best price and performance.

For example, NextRoll cut their compute bill in half by switching to one of our newest-generation instance types powered by our custom-built Graviton2 processors. The low price is made possible by our unique architecture, which offloads virtualization functions to dedicated software and silicon chips that we manufacture ourselves. This also allows our customers to innovate faster with performance that is indistinguishable from dedicated physical servers.

Or another example is how GovChat, South Africa’s largest citizen engagement platform, in just a few days created a chatbot to help citizens find their closest COVID-19 testing center using our serverless computing option, which is optimized for speed and scale.

A resolution for the new year

From what I’m hearing, organizations are ready to reinvent in the new year and they want IT to be a bigger part of that conversation. Many organizations reach out to AWS when they want to get that dialogue started because we’ve helped millions of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to governments to startups, reinvent themselves.

To learn more about AWS Compute Solutions, click here.

To read all the pieces in our “Reinventing with the cloud” series, click here.

By: David Brown, VP, Amazon EC2, AWS

Source: Paid Program: The Pandemic Has Shined a Light on the Importance of IT and the Cloud

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Seltzer, Larry. “Your infrastr

Facebook Slows Sales Growth With Apple’s Privacy Policy

Apple warned that sales growth slowed in the last quarter Of a corporation. App privacy rules continue to create uncertainty for social media companies. Facebook’s ad sales, a major source of revenue, slowed growth in the first quarter since Apple began demanding apps to ask users if they wanted to be tracked in April. This change makes it harder for advertisers to target their ads to the right audience and get information about their performance.

Facebook also announced on Monday that it will change its reporting structure to split a unit called “Facebook Reality Labs” that contains augmented reality and virtual reality products and services. This move separates the unit’s results from its core business segment, which includes its flagship Facebook platform and other apps such as Instagram. The company said its investment in Facebook Reality Labs is expected to reduce overall operating profit in 2021 by about $ 10 billion.

Revenues in the third quarter reached $ 29.01 billion, up 35% from the year-ago quarter, but below the $ 29.56 billion expected by FactSet polled analysts. This is the smallest increase since the fourth quarter of last year, well below the 52% in the first half of this year.

Advertising revenue fell slightly from the second quarter, including the largest complex market segments, the United States and Canada. European sales also declined from the previous quarter.

Facebook warned in its July earnings report that changes in privacy for Apple’s iOS operating system could compromise ad targeting capabilities in the third quarter as more people update their iPhones and iPads.Last week’s snap Ltd

Apple’s policy has accused stock prices of falling by more than 20% as earnings growth is expected to slow this quarter.

Facebook’s third-quarter earnings were up 17% to $ 9.19 billion, or $ 3.22 per share. According to the company, the number of monthly users was 3.58 billion, an increase of 12% over the previous year.

Facebook’s share price rose more than 3% in after-hours trading on Monday after the end of a regular session. The company’s stock fell 5% last week after Snap reported an advertising issue related to Apple’s changes.

Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Moffett Nathanson, said: Social media companies start a busy week of earnings for tech giants. After the bell on Tuesday, Apple and Amazon.com will report quarterly results. Ltd

Numbers scheduled for Thursday. All are expected to achieve healthy top-line growth year-over-year as they continue to embrace the digital products and services offered by consumers and businesses.

According to Jeffreys analysts, global supply chain disruptions were expected to slow Facebook’s sales growth as vendors with limited inventories cut advertising costs. Still, the investment firm said digital advertising is powerful and new advertising products from Facebook’s Instagram service will be up and running to provide a new source of revenue.

Facebook said it expects revenue to grow from $ 31.5 billion to $ 34 billion this quarter, reflecting factors such as “Apple’s iOS 14 changes continue to headwind.”

Parents of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have also tackled other challenges. This includes scrutiny of strict regulations in Washington and criticism of the company’s operations by its own supervisory board following a series of Wall Street Journal investigations called Facebook files.

Share your thoughts

What do you think about the current state of Facebook’s business? Join the conversation below.

Last week, UK competition regulators fined Facebook £ 50.5 million ($ 69.6 million worth) for violating reporting requirements while reviewing a proposal to acquire Giphy, an online provider of animated images. Facebook has separately agreed to pay a monetary penalty as part of its settlement with the US government. It accused social media companies of illegally booking lucrative jobs for migrant workers sponsored for permanent residence, instead of looking for and considering available US workers.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently promoted his vision for the Metaverse. It is loosely defined as a broad future online world where people exist and interact in a shared virtual space through digital avatars. He recently described the Metaverse as the next generation of the Internet and the next chapter in his company. Facebook said last week it plans to create 10,000 jobs in Europe over the next five years to work on Metaverse-related efforts.

Zuckerberg emphasized the message in the company’s earnings report. “I’m particularly excited about the roadmap that helps build creators, commerce and the Metaverse,” he said. Facebook said it expects to increase its investment over the next few years. The company added that next year’s costs will be as much as $ 97 billion for technical staff, product staff, and infrastructure-related costs.

Sarah E. Needleman

By: Sarah E. Needleman

Source: Facebook slows sales growth with Apple’s privacy policy – Texas News Today

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Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

A decade after its founding, the marketing tech startup Braze is beginning the process of becoming a publicly traded company.

Today, the New York-based company filed its Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “BRZE.” Braze is part of the growing industry of marketing campaign management software companies, a market sector that the research group IDC says could reach $15 billion in 2021 and $19.4 billion in 2024.

The customer engagement company provides technology for brands to interact directly with consumers through various channels. By using Braze’s platform, companies can use data from email, apps and other digital platforms to better understand their customers before targeting them with personalized messages. Well known brands that use Braze for their marketing include Burger King, Anthropologie, Birchbox, Grubhub, IBM, Hinge, Nascar, PayPal, HBO, iHeartRadio, Sephora and Rosetta Stone.

According to its SEC filing, Braze reported large revenue growth in the past two years with $150.2 million in fiscal-year 2021 and $96.4 million in 2020. While the company has experienced momentum in 2020 and 2021, it’s still not profitable: Net losses totaled $31.43 million in 2021 and $31.36 million in 2020. Braze also reported annual recurring revenue passing $200 million in 2021, up from $100 million in 2019.

When Braze was cofounded in 2011 by CEO Bill Magnuson, Jon Hyman and Mark Ghermezian, it wanted to build a business that was mobile-first to help companies adapt to changing consumer behaviors. At the time of publication, the company was unavailable for comment about its IPO plans, but in a letter included in the S-1 Magnuson wrote that the “goal was to build a company that would capitalize on new technology to help the world’s best companies grow by trusting us with their most valuable asset: their customer relationships.”

“While technological change drove us forward, we knew that humanity should always guide us,” Magnuson wrote. “Great human relationships are built on mutual understanding, engaging communication and shared experience. It’s thus no surprise that the secret weapon of exceptional, enduring companies is the quality of their customer engagement.”

In the past two years, Braze has continued to grow its customer base from 728 in January 2020 to 890 January 2021 and 1,119 as of July 2021. The company has also continued to scale its cloud-based platform and now reaches 3.3 billion monthly active users through its customers’ applications, websites and other digital platforms—up from 2.3 billion in January 2020 and from 1.6 billion in January 2019.

Issues around privacy are also something Braze listed as a risk factor, citing international, federal and state regulations including newly passed legislation in California, Virginia and Colorado and existing laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. Several pages of the S-1 detail many of the laws and provide a glimpse into the various ways rules around data privacy could impact the company both legally and financially.“The laws are not consistent, and compliance in the event of a widespread data breach could be costly,” according to the SEC filing. “In addition, while we contractually limit the types of data our customers may process and store using our platform, we cannot fully control the actions of our customers. The failure of customers to comply with their contractual obligations may subject us to liability, and we may not have sufficient recourse to cover our related liabilities.”

Braze’s S-1 filing comes just a day after the advertising technology company Basis Globally Technologies—formerly known as Centro—confidentially filed its own S-1 with the SEC, further adding to the string of ad-tech and mar-tech IPOs that have taken place this year. Companies that have either gone public or begun the IPO process in 2021 include the content recommendation company Taboola, ad measurement firms DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science and other marketing tech companies such as Zeta Global and Sprinklr.

Over the past decade, Braze has raised $175.1 million, according to Crunchbase. It raised an $80 million Series E round led by Meritech Capital Partners in 2018, just a year after raising a $50 million Series D round led by ICONIQ Capital. Other investors have included Battery Ventures, InterWest Partners, Rally Ventures and Blumberg Capital.

While Braze was growing quickly even before the Covid-19 crisis began, the company said the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital and mobile usage. Braze is also betting on the increased reliance on first-party data, especially as companies adapt to finding ways to reach people without as much third-party aggregated data.

“Modern brands know that when a customer is intermediated by a third-party aggregator, ad platform or distribution channel, it’s not really their customer relationship,” Magnuson wrote. “The highest value customer relationships are informed by first-party data and cemented through direct engagement.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing and advertising especially related to the ever-evolving role of chief

Source: Braze Begins The IPO Process Amid Pandemic-Era Growth In Digital Marketing

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Is Your Relationship With Money Holding You Back?

Mel H. Abraham, the host of The Affluent Entrepreneur Show, often hears clients tell him, “I’m having some money issues because …” What follows “because” could be any number of reasons, but in Abraham’s book, money issues are often a symptom and not the actual problem. “The fact is your current financial situation is a result of your past decisions,” he explains.

So, when his clients take a moment to honestly examine their decisions and habits surrounding money, he often sees some of the seeds of where they are today — things like how much they did or didn’t save, what they typically spend their money on, and whether their relationship with money is toxic.

The reality, says Abraham, is that we are often conditioned to have limiting beliefs about money from a very young age. Money is not something we talk about or are taught about in school. And unless you intentionally seek to learn about money, your primary source of learning is observation. “The question, though, is: Who are you observing?” Abraham asks.

Most of our money education comes from our surroundings, aka parents, friends, and neighbors, as well as conversations we’ve overheard or what the media has told us. “Were they the best source of financial information and financial education?”

Based on these observations, we unconsciously create beliefs about money, and these beliefs form what Abraham refers to as our “money identity.” That identity could spur from things as simple as hearing a parent say, “We can’t afford that,” which could lead you to start believing that money is scarce and that you need to be afraid of spending any money at all.

You could have grown up hearing that “people who have money are greedy,” which might make you not want to work as diligently, or that “money is not important,” which can lead to brushing off the financial side of your life.

As you get older, these limiting beliefs can intensify. And Thomas Creel, the founder and owner of Creel Financial LLC, says these common toxic money thoughts can lead to everything from preventing you from asking for a raise you deserve to overspending, putting off saving for retirement, or staying in debt. He shares the following as examples of limited money beliefs:

• “I’ll never be good with money, so why even try?”

• “My friends seem to be doing well with money; something must be wrong with me.”

• “As long as I can pay my bills every month, I can spend the rest on having fun.”

• “Life is too short; I’ll worry about retirement when I get older.”

• “Only going out with my friends and spending money is when we have fun.”

• “My friends wouldn’t want to hang out with me if we did something for free.”

• “My parents never talked about money, so I guess I won’t talk about it either.”

• “If I lose all my money, then my parents will just give me more.”

• “Money is the cause of all the world’s problems; therefore, I never want to be wealthy.”

When it comes to money conversations, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, the chief science officer for Happy Money, sees many parallels to the evolving conversation about mental health. “In the past, there was more of a stigma that kept many from sharing openly about their mental health struggles,” she says.

“Thankfully, that is changing, but when it comes to conversations about debt, income, and other money topics, it seems that we are still very reluctant to discuss our finances.” Getting in tune with your financial beliefs is one of the very best ways to start repairing your relationship with money.

Here are some expert-backed ways to begin repairing your relationship with money:

View money as just a tool

Creel likes to look at money as a tool in the same way that you would view a hammer as a tool. “You can either use the hammer to build a useful shelf for your home, or you could use the hammer to break things. It’s the same thing with money,” he explains. And just like how you have to learn how to swing a hammer, you have to learn how to use money to build the life you want.

Let go of the belief that “money is complicated or confusing”

“This often leads to not trying to learn about money because you believe it is beyond you — which it isn’t,” says Abraham. But if you don’t do anything to increase your understanding of money, you cannot feel better about your relationship with money. “All money skills are learnable, but without effort, we can fall into complacency, and complacency with money, which is the first step toward crisis,” Abraham explains.

Creel says it’s likely that you weren’t ever formally taught how to handle your money, and this is probably the reason you aren’t managing it correctly. “No one is taught how to use their money, and that’s what gets us into trouble,” he explains. “So, give yourself grace and know that wherever you’re at in your journey with money, there’s always something you can do to get better with it and improve your situation.”

Challenge your upbringing

Creel asks clients to take inventory of their childhood perceptions of money and question any limiting beliefs that they may have formed about it. “Ask yourself, ‘When it came to how my parents handled money, what did I learn from them?’ Talk with close friends and see what answers come up,” he says. This will likely bring up some common themes, like “money is hard to save” or “only people with X type of job have the ability to have a lot of money.” Next, ask yourself, “Am I sure that these beliefs are true?” “What are some other possible outcomes that could be true?” asks Creel.

Create some positive money affirmations

Come up with several empowering affirmations that you can say to yourself every morning that can help change your thoughts around money. Creel suggests the following:

• “I am capable of overcoming any money obstacles that stand in my way.”

• “I’m not poor; I’m just low in wealth right now. That is changing.”

• “I can conquer my money goals.”

Realize that your money situation can change

You might be strapped for cash at the moment, but a new job, a period of diligent saving, or a raise could change all of that, and quickly. “Remembering that much of what feels overwhelming in life, and with finances, is temporary is a good first step to overcoming anxiety when managing your finances,” explains Lauren Anastasio, a certified financial planner at SoFi. Try to shift your mindset and remind yourself that debt doesn’t have to last forever. “Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel,” Anastasio says.

Find a budget buddy

Understanding that the emotions you are going through are very real, and most likely have been felt by people you know, can be a comfort. “Talking to your partner, a close friend, or family member about what is going on may help you let go of guilt, shame, and financial anxiety,” says Anastasio.

Your budget buddy can be your cheerleader when you need it and motivate you whenever you get frustrated or discouraged. “Whether this person is a financial professional or a trusted friend whose financial choices you admire, he or she can also offer tips to help you be savvier with your money,” Anastasio adds.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Nobody is perfect, and comparison, says Anastasio, is the thief of joy. “It can be difficult to avoid making assumptions about how others are faring financially based on our social-media intake, but just because a friend is posting about their exotic vacations or a neighbor seems to be doing one luxury home renovation after another does not mean they’re experiencing success while you’re not,” she says.

Find the joy

While making money technically involves work, it doesn’t have to be a miserable, nonstop hustle. “Part of healing our relationship to money is not only believing that we are capable of making it, but believing that pursuing money and pursuing happiness, balance, and peace are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, they’re mutually constitutive,” says Rachel Rodgers, the author of We Should All Be Millionaires and the CEO of Hello Seven.

While it’s true that “money can’t always buy you happiness,” it can definitely fund things like travel, new classes, and other passions you may have, enriching your life, and it can ease stress and increase your freedom. So, as you work through your limiting beliefs and grow throughout your financial journey, Rodgers says to remember to have fun and enjoy yourself along the way.

Tune in to your spending emotions

“Track what you spend and how it makes you feel so you can decide what’s worth it to you and what’s not,” suggests Dunn. Pay attention to how purchases affect your mood in order to identify what Dunn refers to as your “happy and sad spends.” By understanding how your money choices impact your mental and emotional well-being, you can start to shift your spending toward what makes you truly happy — such as paying down debt, savoring a treat, investing in an experience, or helping another person. “This mindfulness approach will help you get even more joy from your happy spends,” Dunn says.

Focus on your goals, not the dollars

When it comes to priorities, money can help you get there but shouldn’t be your primary focus. Robin Saks Frankel, a personal finance expert at Forbes Advisor, says it’s important to take time to evaluate what your goals are, not just with money but also with your life as a whole. “If you want to have a partner and children, for example, or you want to make a career change, those goals cannot be attained or measured by how much money you do or don’t have in the bank,” she says.

Nicole is a freelance writer published in The New York Times, AARP, Woman’s Day, Parade, Men’s Journal, Wired, Emmy Magazine, and more. Keep up with her adventures on Twitter at @nicolepajer.

Source: Is Your Relationship With Money Holding You Back?

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Desjardins, Jeff (December 15, 2015). “Infographic: The Properties of Money”. The Money Project. Ret

What’s Happening With Clean Energy Fuels Stock?

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE), a company best known for collecting and transporting renewable natural gas that is produced from the organic waste collected at dairy farms and related sources, has seen its stock rise by about 15% over the last month (about 21 trading days). This compares to the S&P 500 which has gained 4% over the same period.

The recent gains are driven by new contract wins, including a deal to build a hydrogen station and supply liquid hydrogen fuel for Foothill Transit, a southern California bus service. Moreover, Clean Energy Fuels also won a deal to supply about 78 million gallons of liquified natural gas to World Fuel Services for two container ships.

So is CLNE stock poised to grow? Based on our machine learning analysis of trends in the stock price over the last ten years, there is a 54% chance of a rise in CLNE stock over the next month. See our analysis on Clean Energy Fuels Stock Chance of Rise for more details.

Five Days: CLNE -1.9%, vs. S&P 500 4%; Underperformed market

(41% Event Probability)

  • Clean Energy stock declined -1.9% over a five-day trading period ending 10/20/2021, compared to the broader market (S&P500) which rose 4%.
  • A change of -1.9% or more over five trading days has a 41% event probability, which has occurred 1021 times out of 2516 times in the last ten years.
  • Clean Energy stock rose 14% over a ten-day trading period ending 10/20/2021, compared to the broader market (S&P500) which rose 4%.
  • A change of 14% or more over ten trading days has an 11% event probability, which has occurred 287 times out of 2516 times in the last ten years.

Twenty-One Days: CLNE 15%, vs. S&P 500 4.3%; Outperformed market

(17% Event Probability)

  • Clean Energy stock rose 15% over a twenty-one-day trading period ending 10/20/2021, compared to the broader market (S&P500) which rose 4%.
  • A change of 15% or more over twenty-one trading days has a 17% event probability, which has occurred 424 times out of 2516 times in the last ten years.

See our theme on Hydrogen Economy Stocks for an overview of U.S. companies that sell hydrogen fuel cells, related renewable energy equipment, and supply hydrogen gas.

[8/17/2021] Is Clean Energy Fuels Stock A Buy?

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ: CLNE), a company best known for collecting and transporting renewable natural gas that is produced from the animal waste collected at dairy farms and related sources, has seen its stock decline by about 8% over the last five trading days and remains down by about 5% over the past month (21 trading days).

In comparison, the S&P 500 was up by roughly 1% over the last week. The recent decline follows the company’s mixed Q2 2021 earnings that were published in early August. While revenues rose 29% year-over-year to $79 million, on the back of higher delivery volumes, net losses widened due to some one-time charges.

So is the stock likely to correct further, or is a rally looking more likely? Per the Trefis Machine Learning Engine, which analyzes historical stock price data, CLNE stock has a roughly equal chance of a rise or a fall over the next month. See our dashboard analysis on CLNE Stock Chances Of Rise for more details.

Now is CLNE stock a buy for longer-term investors? We think it’s worth a look. Although Clean Energy Fuels’ performance in recent years has been mixed, with the company posting little or no revenue growth, things are poised to only get better from here.

There is increasing urgency to fight climate change among governments and big businesses, and this should play to Clean Energy Fuels’ strengths. The company supplies conventional natural gas as well as renewable natural gas, which can be used to power heavy-duty trucks and buses while effectively producing negative greenhouse gas emissions.

Clean Energy’s RNG sales are projected to rise driven by more favorable regulation as well as deals with top energy companies such as Total, and BP, and retail behemoth Amazon, which has a five-year contract to buy RNG from the company. Clean Energy is also investing in bolstering its RNG supply, with plans to increase RNG production to 100% of the total supply mix, up from about 40% last year.

Although the stock trades at a relatively high 5.5x forward revenue, the company’s leading position in the RNG space, the sizable market opportunity, as well as potential regulatory tailwinds could make the stock worth considering.

[6/1/2021] Why Clean Energy Fuels Stock Is Up 3.5x Over The Last Year

Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ NDAQ +1.4%: CLNE), a company best known for supplying natural gas, has seen its stock price rally by over 270% over the last 12 months, with the stock now trading at levels of close to $8 per share, although it remains down from levels of around $18 seen in February.

This compares to the S&P 500 which is up by just about 37% over the last 12 months. The rally comes despite a weak financial performance, with the company recording no growth between 2017 and 2019 as sales stood at levels of around $340 million, with sales declining to about $290 million in 2020.

Clean Energy Fuels has also remained largely unprofitable over its 14 years as a public company. However, the markets are valuing the company much more richly, with its P/S multiple, based on trailing sales, rising from 0.9x in 2017 to about 5.4x currently. So is Clean Energy Fuels stock still a buy? We think it is, for a couple of reasons.

See our analysis on What’s Driving Clean Energy Fuels Stock’s 270% Rally? for an overview of how CLNE’s key financial and valuation metrics have trended.

Clean Energy Fuels is best known for its fueling network of over 540 stations across the United States, engaged in the supply of compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas, and renewable natural gas. However, much of the company’s surging valuation likely comes from its focus on expanding its RNG business.

RNG is produced when organic waste from landfills, dairy farms, and other sources decomposes and releases methane gas, which is then further processed and purified. RNG is viewed as a clean fuel and is classified as a carbon-negative in states such as California, considering its feedstock such as dairy cow waste is a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, and by using this it takes more carbon out of the environment than it produces.

This makes the fuel very attractive from an environmental standpoint and governments are incentivizing this via potentially lucrative federal and state-level renewable credits.

While about 40% of the Clean Energy Fuels gas sold in 2020 came from RNG, it is targeting a 100% mix of RNG at all its fuel stations within the next five years. Major corporations have also shown a lot of interest in the RNG space with Clean Energy Fuels recently signing deals to build renewable natural gas fuel facilities and infrastructure with energy giants Total (NYSE: TOT) and BP (NYSE: BP).

While RNG is used predominately in the transportation sector, powering heavy vehicles, it could eventually be used for electricity generation and even as a raw material for hydrogen production, giving it a massive addressable market.

The outlook for Clean Energy Fuels financials is also looking better. Sales are projected to grow by about 10% each year over 2021 and 2022, per consensus estimates, with the company also likely to break even in 2022. Now although a 5x plus forward revenue multiple is somewhat high, the company’s leading position in the renewable natural gas space, the sizable market potential, regulatory tailwinds under the Biden Administration, and the recent correction make the stock worth a look.

What if you’re looking for a more balanced portfolio instead? Here’s a high-quality portfolio that’s beaten the market consistently since 2016.

Invest with Trefis Market Beating Portfolios

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Led by MIT engineers and Wall Street analysts, Trefis (through its dashboards platform dashboards.trefis.com) helps you understand how a company’s products, that you

Source: What’s Happening With Clean Energy Fuels Stock?

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LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman on ‘Blitzscaling’ and Unintended Consequences

“You can’t anticipate everything. You can’t prep for everything,” said LinkedIn co-founder and former CEO Reid Hoffman during an interview Thursday at the 2021 Inc. 5000 Vision Conference. Entrepreneurship, he adds, is like “running really fast through the fog,” so the best thing you can do is equip yourself with learned wisdom from others who have been down the path before you.

Hoffman, who today is a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock, has had a hand in many fast-growth companies that have achieved enormous scale. In addition to LinkedIn, he was a top executive at PayPal, along with Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, and others who’ve gone on to become household names. And he’s been an investor in Facebook and Airbnb, among others.

Hoffman also is a three-time bestselling author whose newest book, Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths From the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs, which he co-wrote with June Cohen and Deron Triff, builds on the success of their podcast by the same name. Both the podcast and the book feature stories and lessons drawn from deep interviews with dozens of famous founders, along with tales from Hoffman’s own career. In short: Few people understand the art of scaling a business better than Hoffman.

In his conference appearance, Hoffman highlighted a few of the top takeaways from the new book and discussed the ethics of Silicon Valley-style blitzscaling at a moment when the type of tech giants he has helped create have come under increasing scrutiny.

Beware unintended consequences

One of the most memorable moments of Hoffman’s presentation came when he addressed the ethical complications that can come when scaling as quickly as possible brings unintended consequences. Especially as a growing organization moves “from single-threaded to multi-threaded,” Hoffman says, it can be hard as a leader to both maintain the speed to scale and keep on top of all the new threads–let alone anticipate all potential scenarios.

He recommends hiring “somebody whose responsibility is to say, ‘What could possibly go wrong? What would have the wrong impact with our customers or with society, and what are the things we could do now to prep against it?'” Nothing is fail-safe, he cautions, but the more you think ahead, the more nimbly you can respond when necessary–“because if things start going wrong at scale, that can be even more challenging.”

Let some fires burn

As Hoffman knows well, running a fast-growth company can feel like an exercise in constant crisis management. Rather than trying to put out every fire immediately, he advises, establish a triage system that allows you to, in his words, “let some fires burn.” An entrepreneur should ask herself a series of questions: “Which thing is most likely to kill us first, or limit our scale? Which thing, if we don’t start now, won’t be controllable later?”

The answers aren’t always obvious, he points out–some fires, though harder to control later, will be manageable because you’ll have more resources as you grow. “Generally speaking, you have a limited amount of resources to focus on some fires,” he says. “If you try to do them all at the same time, maybe you won’t get any of them sufficiently.”

It all comes back to mission

It’s not enough, Hoffman says, for your company to provide jobs or for people to love your product. “Those are important things, true, but sometimes your product might be questionable–like cigarettes.” So you should also ask, “Why is society better with your product in it?”–and invest in growing that direction.

That isn’t anti-business, he adds, it’s long-term brand building. It builds cohesion and clarifies decision-making in the company. It’s great for attracting talent. “It can be great capitalism. I think it’s really fundamental to great entrepreneurship and helps through the entire company,” he says.

By Tom Foster, Editor-at-large, Inc.@tomfoster2

Source: LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman on ‘Blitzscaling’ and Unintended Consequences | Inc.com

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Pfizer Says Its Vaccine is 90.7% Effective Against Symptomatic Covid-19 In Children Ages 5 To 11

Bridgette Melo, 5, holds the hand of her father, Jim Melo, during her inoculation of one of two reduced 10 ug doses of the Pfizer BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine during a trial at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina September 28, 2021 in a still image from video. Video taken September 28, 2021. Shawn Rocco/Duke University/Handout via REUTERS NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

In a new document posted ahead of a key meeting of the US Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisers, Pfizer says its vaccine is safe and 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11.

In the trial, which included around 2,000 children, there were three Covid-19 cases among the group that received the vaccine and 16 cases in the placebo group. In the trial, twice as many children received the vaccine as the placebo.

Pfizer/BioNTech are seeking FDA emergency use authorization of a two-dose regimen of their 10-microgram dose for children ages 5 to 11. The two doses would be administered three weeks apart. Last month, Pfizer released details of a Phase 2/3 trial that showed its Covid-19 vaccine was safe and generated a “robust” antibody response in children ages 5 to 11. The trial included 2,268 participants ages 5 to 11.

Participants’ immune responses were measured by looking at neutralizing antibody levels in their blood and comparing those levels to a control group of 16- to 25-year-olds who were given a two-dose regimen with the larger 30-microgram dose. Pfizer said the levels compared well with older people who received the larger dose, demonstrating a “strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.”

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet October 26 to discuss whether to recommend the vaccine for authorization for those ages 5 to 11.

If authorized, this would be the first Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older and has an EUA for people ages 12 to 15.

The data summarized from this Phase 2/3 study, which is enrolling children 6 months to 11 years of age, was for 2,268participants who were 5 to 11 years of age and received a 10 µg dose level in a two-dose regimen. In the trial, the SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing antibody geometric mean titer (GMT) was 1,197.6 (95% confidence interval [CI, 1106.1, 1296.6]), demonstrating strong immune response in this cohort of children one month after the second dose.

This compares well (was non-inferior) to the GMT of 1146.5 (95% CI: 1045.5, 1257.2) from participants ages 16 to 25 years old, used as the control group for this analysis and who were administered a two-dose regimen of 30 µg. Further, the COVID-19 vaccine was well tolerated, with side effects generally comparable to those observed in participants 16 to 25 years of age.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year.

Pfizer and BioNTech plan to share these data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulators as soon as possible. For the United States, the companies expect to include the data in a near-term submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) as they continue to accumulate the safety and efficacy data required to file for full FDA approval in this age group.

A request to the EMA to update the EU Conditional Marketing Authorization is also planned. Topline readouts for the other two age cohorts from the trial – children 2-5 years of age and children 6 months to 2 years of age – are expected as soon as the fourth quarter of this year. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-reviewed publication.

By:

Source: Pfizer says its vaccine is 90.7% effective against symptomatic Covid-19 in children ages 5 to 11 – ABC17NEWS

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Patients should always ask their healthcare providers for medical advice about adverse events. Individuals are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Visit http://www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. In addition, side effects can be reported to Pfizer Inc. at www.pfizersafetyreporting.com

or by calling 1-800-438-1985.

Please click here for full Prescribing Information (16+ years of age). Please click here for Fact Sheet for Vaccination Providers (12+ years of age)

Public Assessment Report Authorisation for Temporary Supply COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 (BNT162b2 RNA) concentrate for solution for injection (PDF). Regulation 174 (Report). Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 15 December 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 December 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2021. Burger L (15 March 2020). “BioNTech in China alliance with Fosun over coronavirus vaccine candidate”. Reuters. Archived

Wikipedia and the Wisdom of Polarized Crowds

In 2013, James Evans, a University of Chicago sociologist and computational scientist, launched a study to see if science forged a bridge across the political divide. Did conservatives and liberals at least agree on biology and physics and economics? Short answer: No. “We found more polarization than we expected,” Evans told me recently.

People were even more polarized over science than sports teams. At the outset, Evans said, “I was hoping to find that science was like a Switzerland. When we have problems, we can appeal to science as a neutral arbiter to produce a solution, or pathway to a solution. That wasn’t the case at all.”

Evans started his study on Amazon. You know the heading that says, “Customers who bought this item also bought”? Evans and his colleagues analyzed the top 100 items in this list for two “seed” books: Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father and Mitt Romney’s No Apology. They repeated this process for each book in the top-100 list until they ran out of new titles.

“The resulting ‘snowball sample,’ ” Evans and company wrote in their 2017 Nature Human Behaviour paper, “contained virtually all books in the largest strongly connected component in Amazon’s directed co-purchase network,” or 1,303,504 unique titles.

After performing a co-purchase network analysis—the sort used to study co-citation and co-author networks—on this dataset, the scholars concluded that political ideology guided people to science books. With some curious results. Liberal readers preferred basic science (physics, astronomy, zoology), while conservatives went for applied and commercial science (criminology, medicine, geophysics).

“It seems like conservatives are happy to draw on science associated with economic growth—that’s what they want from science,” Evans said. “Science is more like Star Trek for liberals: traveling through worlds, searching for new meanings, searching for yourself.” Science turned out to be “a huge example of confirmation bias,” Evans said. “You expect something to be true, you want it to be true, you read books that affirm and confirm those truths.”

The thing most disturbing to me is the onslaught of claims about fake information and fake news.

Looking at the polarized results, Evans had an idea. What would happen if you put together a group of diverse people to produce information? What would the results look like? Evans knew just the place to conduct the experiment: Wikipedia. Evans and Misha Teplitskiy, a postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, and colleagues, studied 205,000 Wikipedia topics and their associated “talk pages,” where anybody can observe the debates and conversations that go on behind the scenes.

The scholars judged the quality of the articles on Wikipedia’s own assessments. “It’s based on internal quality criteria that is essentially: What do we want a good encyclopedia article to be? We want it to be readable, comprehensive, pitched at the right level, well-sourced, linked to other stuff,” Teplitskiy explained.

In their Nature Human Behaviour paper, “The Wisdom of Polarized Crowds,” Evans and Teplitskiy concluded that polarization doesn’t poison the wells of information. On the contrary, they showed politically diverse editor teams on Wikipedia put out better entries—articles with higher accuracy or completeness—than uniformly liberal or conservative or moderate teams. It’s a surprising result and so I caught up with Evans and Teplitskiy to offer their interpretations.

What does Wikipedia tell us about diversity?

James Evans: People talk about the importance of diversity. It’s not diversity in general; it’s diversity in specific. If you have these different ideologies, it’s associated with different filters on the world, different intakes of information, and so when it comes to constructing reference knowledge on an encyclopedic web page that’s supposed to thoroughly characterize an area, you do a much better job because you have a lot more information that’s attended to by this ideologically diverse group.

Editors working on a social issues page said, “We have to admit that the position that was echoed at the end of the argument was much stronger and balanced.” Did they begrudgingly come to that? They did, and that’s the key. If they too easily updated their opinion, then they wouldn’t have been motivated to find counter-factual and counter-data arguments that fuel that conversation.

We found that more diversity is associated with longer conversations. If they were immediately willing to give up on these things, then it wouldn’t have produced the sustained competition that ended up generating the balance that they, themselves, came to appreciate.

Which pages on Wikipedia benefit most from political diversity?

Evans: Political pages. The second most are social issues pages, which have a substantial political content. Even science pages benefit because sciences resonate with different political ideologies. And there’s no question that the science articles that benefited the most were the science articles that are associated with political polarization.

I would be surprised if we didn’t see that across the science pages associated with the environment, which include climate change, but likely a lot of other things, including biodiversity. Those are kinds of science articles that benefited the most from political polarization because they’re the ones, unsurprisingly, for which diverse political perspectives end up offering really different filtered information.

Misha Teplitskiy: Psychologists and organizational scholars call this “task relevance.” It’s the idea that diversity in ideas should help only for tasks for which diversity is relevant. You expect ideological diversity to be most relevant for politics, less so for social issues, and less so for science. The surprising feature there is that it’s at all relevant to science, but generally we expect it to matter less and less the farther you get away from task relevance.

The evidence for our contribution to climate change is unimpeachable. So might a Wikipedia entry that encouraged diverse opinions not produce a high quality result? Would that run counter to your study, to the importance of diversity?

Evans: You’re saying there are some things where diversity can just generate noise. In general, one could imagine this, and there’s a wonderful book called Merchants of Doubt which explores precisely this issue, that companies in a number of areas increased the amount of apparent diversity in a decreasingly diverse consensus about, for example, smoking’s influence on lung cancer.

That’s certainly taking place in the world. But for some reason, and this is a tribute to some of the standards in the context of Wikipedia, people discipline each other and are effectively disciplined by higher-level editors. There’s also a whole host of different perspectives that people might take with respect to global warming.

Even though there might be general agreement that human activity is increasing greenhouse gases and higher temperatures, it could be one assumption has you thinking there are human solutions to human problems, and another one has you thinking of the importance of human stewardship over the earth. So different perspectives aren’t just generating artificial conflict in these contexts.

At the same time, our experience is for broad topics. There are few places where there’s enormous amounts of certainty in the sciences. My guess is in places where there is strong certainty, we’re not going to see a big effect from political diversity. Political diversity is not a magical substance. If the distribution of political perspectives aren’t correlated with useful information about the topic at hand, then you’re not going to see a benefit. You’re going to see noise. You might even see a detriment.

What do you think about fake news?

Evans: The thing most disturbing to me is the onslaught of claims about fake information and fake news. In some sense, all information is fake. All of it has a purpose, an angle. But the fact that now it’s just so easy to claim that it’s fake without any particular support for that claim, and it’s popular to do so, means it’s easier to discount alternative information than ever before.

Angles are useful. They motivate people to look in a certain place, to search out information that you probably wouldn’t have searched out if you weren’t motivated by the possession of a belief. Angles end up having a lot of value, unless you discount them all. It begins with Trump arguing that everything’s fake news and then people arguing that Trump’s producing fake news all the time.

There’s this cloud of fakery out there, and, of course, it’s exacerbated by the proliferation of bots and other things generating noise. I see that in mass media news in the same way I see it online. It’s a new level. It’s like we’ve just discovered that there’s bias in the system and so everything is biased, categorically, and we can agree or disagree with it at will.

I hope that we can begin to persuade people to really value the importance of bias, that bias is critical to how we view things, that there isn’t an unbiased position.

Why are the highest quality articles overseen or written by an ideologically diverse group of people?

Evans: More collective insight is generated when you draw people who have non-random and minimally overlapping sets of information or knowledge exposures and you put them in a forum that’s well-regulated by a set of norms, which can be appealed to and are, in fact, appealed to. I was really struck by the fact that people often experience this. When they experience balanced debates on these sites, they really described the process as painful and beleaguered but the outcome as satisfying.

Teplitskiy: Ideologically diverse teams end up debating more. These people are carrying different bits of knowledge. When they bring it together, they’re spending more effort to aggregate it into good content. Even aside from increased effort, we’re also finding that the kinds of debates they have are a bit more focused. They zero in on a smaller set of issues and really hash out those issues that are presumably most problematic.

They end up having more conflict and rely on policies more for regulating what we call their “task conflict,” or conflict that’s oriented around creating content, and they also have a lower relational conflict—they gang up on each other less and harass each other less on a personal level compared to more unbalanced teams. Those that are more balanced have a lower harassment prevalence.

What happens when editor teams are politically unbalanced, or overwhelmingly left- or right-wing?

Evans: When you have a single person going in and describing a set of pages as, “They look like Russian propaganda,” those people don’t recognize that they are entering a system of 30 or 40 people who have constructed this page in conversation, and they are coming in and really just trashing that characterization.

Almost invariably, they just got beaten up, labeled as trolls, sent out of the community on a rod with tar and feathers. The homogenous group has a sense of, “We’ve built the social contract and then this person is coming in from the outside.” We found empirically, in our study, that there was a lot more toxic language when you have these imbalances.

Teplitskiy: Our data is suggestive. You would prefer diverse teams that are in a moderate position. Shifting in either direction away from the middle or the moderate position as a team is negatively associated with quality.

Are there some key lessons that groups that produce or evaluate ideas can take from your Wikipedia study?

Teplitskiy: One lesson that our work raises is around branding or creating a culture and letting people know about it, and letting it be the mechanics of how you organize a platform. One interesting thing about Wikipedia is it’s got a very strong culture. If you want to play in the sandbox, you should be ready to back up your claims, cite your sources, cite sources that are reasonable, listen to others.

That clearly discourages some people from joining, people who are not willing to play by reasonable rules. They do more filtering up front on who can play, not in a heavy handed way, but more by signaling their culture strongly, and people who don’t like it don’t stick around.

Compared to the science-book study, the Wikipedia paper sure seems to hold out hope for consensus.

Evans: Yes, and I hope that we can begin to persuade people, with this kind of paper, to really value the importance of bias, that bias is critical to how we view things, that there isn’t an unbiased position. Only when we begin to demonstrate the value of bias can we battle the cloud that bias is bad. Everything’s biased, so we have to reach into our core values and use those to guide our way through this world. There’s a strong scientific value behind bias, so our hope is to begin a conversation about the value of polarized crowds.

What can scientists learn from your results?

Evans: My hope is that not just scientists, but people with opinions and political stakes in general, can seriously consider the fact that people who don’t share their political viewpoints have something valuable to say—and even if they don’t have something valuable to say about a particular political topic, that their different experience and perspective has likely given them access to other kinds of information that will be valuable and new to you.

That’s the key to unlocking the potential of polarization: to allow people to constructively contribute to knowledge projects and other projects together. If you know enough about Wikipedia to open up the talk page, which anybody can do but almost nobody does, you’ll see extensive discussions going on. You’ll see people carefully, painstakingly employing diverse perspectives that are perceived by experts as being systematically better. It just produces more robust knowledge because there’s less ideological filtering going on.

By: Brian Gallagher

Brian Gallagher is the editor of Facts So Romantic, the Nautilus blog. Follow him on Twitter @BSGallagher.

Source: Wikipedia and the Wisdom of Polarized Crowds

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Using Digital To Address The Mental Health ‘Silent Epidemic’

Digital tools and platforms are a natural fit for overcoming the top barriers to getting mental healthcare: accessibility, cost and social stigma, says Emily Thayer, a Senior Consultant within Cognizant Consulting’s Healthcare Practice.

Untreated mental health conditions have long been a top healthcare concern. In 2019, fewer than half of Americans with a diagnosed mental illness received treatment for that condition, according to the US National Institute of Mental Health.

Not only is untreated mental illness detrimental to patients’ health — it’s also a strain on national healthcare costs. In fact, mental health disorders cost the US economy an estimated $4.6 billion per year in unnecessary ER visits and $300 billion in lost workplace productivity, making mental health disorders among the most costly untreated conditions in the US.

The pandemic has only accelerated the need for care — according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, over 40% of US adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in January 2021, compared with 11% in the first six months of 2019. Given the well-documented therapist shortages that have resulted, the concern of connecting patients with care has only grown more acute.

It’s no wonder, then, that interest and investment are growing in digitally oriented mental healthcare, from platforms that match therapists with patients, to chatbots, to online cognitive behavioral therapy tools. Although emerging digital solutions are nascent and will inevitably encounter friction, virtual remedies show great promise in lowering the barriers that both practitioners and patients face.

Consider how digital tools can address the top three factors that have historically kept patients from seeking mental health care: accessibility, cost and social stigma.

Improving accessibility to mental health treatment

As of May 2021, over 125 million Americans live in a behavioral or mental health professional shortage area. This gap will continue to widen as the pandemic exacerbates the therapist shortage.

To expand accessibility to behavioral health services, companies like Quartet and Talkspace are using telehealth platforms to connect patients and therapists. By leveraging clinical algorithms, these platforms identify available therapists based on the patient’s symptoms, state of residence (due to cross-state licensing restrictions), insurance carrier, preferred mode of communication (synchronous video or audio and asynchronous text messaging) and desired appointment cadence.

In other words, if you have a connected device, you can receive on-demand care for your behavioral health condition. Digital accessibility also addresses physician shortages and burnout on a national scale.

As these entities are still relatively new to the market, challenges and questions remain, such as the fundamental disconnect between virtual treatment and physician intervention in a clinical setting. As patient adoption grows, enough accurate data will be generated to prompt when physician intervention is necessary.

Additionally, these telehealth platforms are more geared toward mild cases, as these services do not replace the necessary stages of the care continuum that may be needed for more serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Lowering behavioral healthcare costs

An estimated 47% of US adults with an untreated behavioral or mental health illness do not seek treatment due to high costs.

Many entities in the private and public sectors are turning to virtual services to help patients better afford behavioral and mental health services. For instance, traditional in-person therapy ranges from $64 to $250 per hour, depending on patient insurance, whereas digital solutions can cost under $32 per hour.

Accordingly, many workplaces are incorporating digital solutions into their employee-sponsored health plans through health platforms like Ginger, which offers 24×7 access to behavioral health coaches via asynchronous texting for low-acuity conditions like anxiety and depression.

Recent moves by the federal government further bolster the effort to make behavioral healthcare affordable. In addition to the US Department of Health and Human Services announcing an additional $3 billion in funding to address pandemic-related behavioral and mental health issues, the Biden administration has signaled commitment to expanding access to telehealth services for underserved communities. Such efforts will need to be combined with further work in the private sector to ensure mental healthcare affordability through virtual means.

Overcoming negative social stigma

Perceived social stigma is an additional barrier for many people seeking mental health treatment. In a study of patients with schizophrenia, 86% of respondents reported concealing their illness due to fears of prejudice or discrimination.

To circumvent these challenges, some mental health providers have embraced artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots and online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) tools. Although chatting with a bot may seem counterintuitive to the “high-touch” nature of the healthcare industry, the anonymity of this approach can ease patient anxiety about opening up to another potentially judgmental human.

In a randomized control trial with a conversational agent that delivers CBT treatment, patients reported a 22% reduction in depression and anxiety within the first two weeks. This study shows promise for the effectiveness of chatbot-based therapy, particularly for younger generations, many of whom already share many intimate details of their lives on digital forums and hence have a higher level of acceptance of these tools. Older generations may view the adoption of this new behavioral care model with more incredulity and hesitancy.

A virtual future for behavioral healthcare

It is clear that the virtual care industry is poised for future growth, as there is a clear correlation between our understanding of behavioral healthcare challenges and the evolution of treatment modalities to bridge those gaps.

While digital services may not be a cure-all remedy for behavioral health, they certainly offer a promising long-term solution to one of the country’s most prominent and costly diseases.

To learn more, visit our Healthcare solutions section or contact us.

Emily Thayer is a Senior Consultant within Cognizant Consulting’s Healthcare Practice, who specializes in driving digital transformation. Emily has a proven track record in both the private and public sectors, most notably in health plan strategy and operations, business development and project management. Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in business management and psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Oxford, and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She can be reached at Emily.Thayer@cognizant.com

Source: Using Digital To Address The Mental Health ‘Silent Epidemic’

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