Whither the World’s Fair?

The moniker “Expo 2017” is currently being bandied about in North America. In the US, various optimists, often plain vanilla citizens like you and me, have launched web sites and forums promoting a return of the world’s fair–or Expo 2017 in this case–to America. In Canada, at least four cites and/or organizations have recently promoted the idea of an “expo”, with one of the first efforts publicly unveiled in Montreal in 2007.

In America, the idea of a world’s fair–an officially sanctioned one, that is, will conceivably remain a distant dream until Washington comes to its diplomatic senses and rejoins the Bureau of International Expositions, or BIE–the governing body in Paris which awards world’s fairs in much the same fashion as the IOC decides who gets to hold the next Olympic Games. Just like the Olympics, an aspiring world’s fair applicant is required to invest a considerable amount of energy and expense putting together a bid, and, of course, impressing the appropriate officials. Unless, perhaps, you’re the city of New York which, after a clash with French dignitaries, decided to hold its 1964/1965 World’s Fair without BIE approval. At the time, superpower America had enough clout that many of the nations who were subsequently prohibited by the BIE from participating decided to show up anyway, posing as trade and tourist organizations.

Right after New York, and only a skip across the border, the city of Montreal staged what is often considered to be the most successful (and BIE approved) world’s fair of all time. Set on a sprawling venue of two man-made islands and a peninsula in the middle of the Saint Lawrence River, Expo 67 introduced a number of technological and cultural “firsts”–including the now ubiquitous moniker “expo” itself.

There are “expos” for everything now, from computers to kitty litter, while the mighty world’s fair that spawned these cheap imitations hasn’t been seen in North America for decades. Even if a city here managed to secure an official bid for “Expo 2017” it would be for a much smaller affair, a “recognized” expo limited by the BIE to 25 hectares exhibition area. That’s because there have always been two types of world’s fairs, a very large one (a “universal expo”) and, in-between, a smaller one (a “special expo”)–both of which are now, respectively, called “registered” and “recognized” fairs. In 2017, unfortunately, only the smaller recognized expo is allowed.

Nevertheless, I would argue that the world’s fair not only needs a major boost in North America, but that North America desperately needs another world’s fair. No other event has the collective potential to attract a huge audience to the latest cultural and scientific endeavours humankind has to offer. With our planet in the precarious state we have put it in, and North America no longer as influential and respected as it used to be, a world’s fair, properly staged and presented with the latest social and environmental initiatives, could be the political and technological beacon of hope this continent is yearning for. Of course, that might mean that Expo 2017 would need to encompass a great deal more than 25 hectares exhibition area and would need to address a lot more than the narrowly restricted theme (the fair’s purpose) officially allowed by the BIE for a smaller “recognized” expo. This could be done, with a little creative thinking (and without resorting to New York’s 1964 strategy), but that’s for another article to address.

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Are You at Risk of Being “Uberized”?

If you’re like many Business Owners and Leaders you probably feel pretty good about the position you hold in your market… so did the taxi cab companies and drivers before Uber became a reality. Now they are scrambling and trying to find a way to survive… even to the point of trying to get political help in different cities to stay afloat.

Disruption and Commoditization have impacted virtually every industry today. There probably isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by a disruptive organization entering their market and stealing some of their market share. Uber is an excellent example but there are many others that have been equally disruptive. Companies such as LegalZoom have taken billions of dollars away from attorneys over the past several years. They captured and disrupted a document and transaction-based business and turned it into a commodity by substantially lowering the pricing of document preparation… impacting attorneys all over the country.

Amazon was an early disruptor to the entire book business… taking significant market share away from Barnes and Noble and Borders who were recognized giants in the book industry. And we certainly can’t forget about Blockbuster’s demise when Netflix entered the market. They were the unquestioned dominant leader in video rental and were virtually replaced overnight by an unknown company with a new disruptive business model that matched the needs of customers at substantial savings.

Even though these examples are in completely different industries there is one common thread that runs through all of them… they didn’t believe anyone could disrupt their dominance in their market. While it’s awesome to believe in your product or service, it’s dangerous to think there isn’t someone waiting in the wings to take away your position. Unlike any other time in history, we are now seeing new companies coming into traditional industries from many unrelated areas and establishing a disruptive model and capturing significant market share. This trend is only going to continue now that it has shown massive success over the past few years. So what can you do, as the leader of your business, to either avoid or minimize the impact of this potential disruption?

While commoditization is difficult to combat with products and services over a long period of time, there is at least one alternative that appears to withstand the test of time and delivers differentiation in the market… your CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

It is difficult to continually come up with new products and services to satisfy the ravenous appetite customers have today. Just when you think you have the best and leading edge product or newest service, someone comes in and “one-ups” you and takes away the leading spot. While you might remain there for some period of time, it is difficult to remain at the top for extended periods of time. Apple is one of the few that has been successful at this… but it took them many years of living in the shadow of Microsoft and others before they became the dominant leader. Today, Microsoft is in this unenviable position and trying to fight their way back to the top… especially in the race for the Cloud.

But these are behemoth companies… not the SMB market. They can throw billions of dollars at innovation and products and hope they find a winner. The small and mid-sized business (SMB) can’t be this frivolous with their cash and making too many product/service mistakes can wipe out a business before anything comes to fruition. The proven alternative to this madness is to focus on the ONE THING that is completely in their control to design and deliver… their CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Customer Experience has both short and long term advantages. It is something that can be created and implemented within the year but last for many decades to come when implemented properly. And by properly I’m not talking about telling all your employees they need to be nicer to the customer… that never works for the long term… every company can be nice to their customers if they try. This isn’t the answer… this isn’t the differentiator… but it’s on the right track.

Creating a customized CUSTOMER JOURNEY that is built upon a very well defined Customer Experience Process (something we call Customer Experience Mapping) is what allows companies to reap these rewards for many years into the future. Think Disney… they created “the happiest place on earth” and continue to deliver this experience year after year after year. This didn’t happen by holding a meeting and telling all their employees and characters to be nicer to their guests… it happened because they have a very well defined Customer Journey that is built on a foundation of a well-designed and executed Customer Experience.

Nordstrom did the same thing many decades ago. They started selling shoes… then clothing… all at high prices. But they started with a very distinct process inside the organization for delivering an incredible customer experience day in and day out. Zappos followed this same model… sold shoes… one of the ultimate commodities in the clothing industry… and they dominate today. They don’t give discounts and silly things like “one day only” sales (every day)… they simply deliver a remarkable Customer Experience to every customer every day… and their customers love to buy from Zappos. And it has worked out pretty well when you consider they went from zero to over $1 Billion in revenues in less than 10 years and were sold to Amazon for more than a billion dollars. Not a bad model if you ask me.

One way to avoid being COMMODITIZED and losing customers is to design something even new entrants can’t copy… the experience you offer. If your Customer Experience is so incredibly amazing and remarkable… WOW… every single day with every interaction, this creates immediate differentiation and a long tail of success. It is the ultimate weapon against commoditization or even new entrants into a market. For a new disruptive entrant to take away market share they would need to be so much better and cheaper than anything you offered… which is difficult to do today. And for those of you that are saying to yourself right now, “Yea but we’re different, we do a good quality job and treat our customers well so we aren’t at risk,” I would offer you some instant advice… take the blinders off and get real with looking at your business. This is living in a fantasy world… this isn’t looking at your company from the eyes of your customer… they are seeing something very different. And if someone came into your market today and offered a completely different (and awesome) experience to your customers at or below your price they would be gone in a heartbeat.

Achieving long-term dominance doesn’t happen by “being nicer to your customers” and thinking you have created differentiation… you haven’t. Being CUSTOMER OBSESSED and creating a process based CUSTOMER JOURNEY that has a well laid out and documented CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROCESS at the heart of it is what will help you avoid being “Uberized.” This strategy gives you differentiation, uniqueness, and a special place in your customers heart and mind… it gives you the “long tail” of success.

I would strongly and passionately encourage you to learn more about why and how this is completely different than what you are probably doing today. If there was ONE THING TO FOCUS ON IN 2017 it would be to create a strategy based around a well-planned Customer Journey which incorporated an incredibly awesome Customer Experience by Mapping out all the experiences your customer will receive when they interact with your business (there are usually over 20 for most companies in the SMB market). If this is of interest and you want to learn more, let’s grab coffee and I can share how some of the best companies in the world have followed this path… for decades… and still dominate in their industries. I think you will find it a fascinating discussion…

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Top 5 Features Added in Revit

A building information modeling (BIM) software, Autodesk Revit, has been useful for architects, structural engineers, MEP engineers, designers and contractors, enabling them to design structures and buildings in 2D and 3D, as well as being 4D BIM capable. It’s first version was released more than a decade back and since then it has seen many updates and new version releases, some have been just incremental updates serving for bug corrections and some have been significant technological updates.

Compared to the 2017 update, the previous 2 editions did not provide any significant upgrade until their ‘release 2’ (R2) editions were released. The 2017 update brings about 50 new, refreshing features which will prove to be immensely useful in creating BIM models. All the new features within the update are equally important and will be useful during the life cycle of a project, but out of those let us discuss the 5 most important features from Revit 2017. 1. Text Editing:

The most awaited feature in Revit since the time it was introduced, text editor has been included in the latest edition of Autodesk Revit. This provides a completely redesigned text engine which is compatible with imported files such as AutoCAD DWG files. The text editor in Revit 2017 also brings corrections to the flaws of text editor from earlier editions and lets users seamlessly switch between text editing mode and viewing mode without causing any unexpected disruptions in text.

2. Global Parameters:

Global parameters feature which was introduced in Revit 2016 R2 version, has received a much needed update in the 2017 edition. The latest update brings in the power of parametric families into the project environment. Applying global parameters to multi-segments is possible in this version, also grouping the parameters becomes easier, as does filtering and reordering. Even though the upgrades do seem to bring a lot of additional features, they do come with their limitations, such as the parameters can only be assigned to certain system family categories and only to user defined instance properties.

3. View Template:

View template is a very simple yet powerful feature added in Revit 2017 which enables the user to share data and reuse schedules. This feature automatically updates all the schedule changes whenever they are affected within their respective templates.

4. Calculated Values in Annotations:

An essential and a long overdue feature introduced in Revit 2017 is Calculated Values in Annotations. It is a useful feature that allows the user to document projects with annotations that allow calculated values and which obey pin restrictions maintaining consistency and accuracy of the project. A tag created with calculations in it can be used with any tag type and pinned to an element allowing the user to reposition that element without actually moving the pin position.

5. Railing Host:

Railing Host or Hosted Railings, is another valuable feature introduced in Revit 2017 (SHOULD THIS SAY 2017?) along with Calculated Value in Annotations feature. With this feature it is now possible to host the railings on Walls, Roofs or Slab Edges and the railings will adjust with variations in slopes and surfaces.

There are a host of other additions and updates in Revit 2017 apart from the ones listed above. It remains to be seen what if any flaws exist during real time use or if they truly result in the enhancements promised. Although, considering the supposed flaws that may exist, Revit 2017 is a huge step forward.

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3 Affordable Cars for College Graduates and Young Students Living in Philly

Philadelphia, nicknamed Philly, is the fifth-most populous city of America. One of the main reasons of the city’s high population is the large number of students residing in Philly. It has the third-largest student concentration on the East Coast of America. It is home to more than 120,000 students who are enrolled in different universities around the city. There are more than 80 universities, colleges and schools in the region. Also, several young people are enrolled in the oldest university of America, University of Pennsylvania.

Buying a Car with a Limited Budget

As a student studying in Philadelphia, you must think that you should not spend your money on luxurious items. But, it doesn’t mean that you cannot buy a car to make your daily commute comfortable. Also, do not think that you will end up with an old, dilapidated car only. It is a fact that your limited budget will not permit you to buy a luxurious brand new car. But, if you research thoroughly, you will find several new car models that will fit your lifestyle and budget easily. Here are a few affordable car models that a student should consider buying in Philly:

· Nissan Versa

If you want to invest money in a good, reliable and sturdy car, you can consider buying Nissan’s Versa Sedan car. It is ranked as one of the cheapest cars in Philly. Nissan ensures that you become a proud new car owner for around $10,000. It means you can buy a car with the help of your limited budget. It is a great bargain because several new cars are priced around $30,000. The cheapest Versa S version of the car has a powerful engine with 109 horsepower. Its unique halogen headlights provide maximum visibility at night and make sure that you reach home safe.

Before visiting a dealership in Philly, make sure that you register as a Nissan College Grad on the company’s official website. Once you finish the registration process, print the Nissan College Grad Certificate and show it to the dealer for obtaining discounts.

· Hyundai Accent

Critics consider the car as a perennial best seller. You can buy the new Hyundai Accent for $14,745. However, you will be able to reduce the price of the car with the help of Hyundai College Grad Program. The auto manufacturer offers a student incentive program to college graduates and young students of Philly. Hyundai offers a $400 bonus for buying a car in Philly. The dealer will consider the bonus as a part of the down payment amount for buying the car.

Hyundai Accent will quench your thirst for a powerful car because it has a 137 horsepower, 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine. Also, you can make a choice between six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions. The car is a joyful ride for the young generation because it provides a great audio system with six speakers, tilt-steering wheels, dual vanity mirrors and exterior temperature display.

· Kia Rio

Kia Rio is a favorite car among the young generation of America. It is because it offers spacious cabin space and cheaper maintenance costs. The 2017 model was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Auto Show. And, since then, it has captured the attention of car lovers across America. The South Korean manufacturer has packed several features for the tech-savvy students of Philly. It provides rear-camera display to help you park properly at your college. Also, its connection-on-command service UVO will provide you with driving directions and access your favorite apps to help you improve your driving skills. Similar to Hyundai, Kia Motors also offers a student incentive program in Philly. It provides a $400 discount along with other incentives to college graduates and young students.

Buying a new car signifies your entry to adult life. It is an important decision that will have immense consequences on your financial situation. So, do not make a hasty decision. Spend time in finding a car model that suits you. Do not forget to consider different incentive programs that auto manufacturers offer to college graduates and young students of Philly. It will make the car buying process affordable for you.

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Caribbean Travel – Why Visit ?

Barbados is a beautiful tropical island, with plenty of cultures around to satisfy all kinds of travelers. The location is so beautiful that you will instantly fall in love with it. The turquoise waters of the Caribbean, the budding Port of Bridgetown, secluded quaint and beaches, British communities with past times ranging from mid-afternoon tea sessions up to the on-going games of cricket. But apart from this, many travelers want to know what are some of the other things which one can enjoy at this beautiful location. Here are some reasons why I feel Barbados is the best place to spend a quality vacation.

The Turquoise Beaches There is no doubt in this fact that Barbados is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. As an island, this location is surrounded by water and has the most fascinating beaches in the world, which is it’s most loved attraction. It is something that must be experienced by all as there is something for everyone. Those who love to surf can head to the East Coast of the island, and those who want to relax or go for a swim can head to the South and West coast beaches.

The Food Is Delicious

Barbados has earned the title of “culinary capital of the Caribbean”, and it has earned it rightfully. This place is a heaven for food lovers, from street food to fine dining you can experience it all here. You can stop at rum shop for ham, cheese cutters or fish cakes, or you can head to a nice restaurant enjoy best fish dishes on the island along with sidelines like macaroni pie.

The Locals Are Friendly

The locals are one of the most priced treasures of this destination. They are popular in the world as the friendliest people, who will always help in making your vacations enjoyable. They love sharing stories about the island’s culture and teaching others about how things work in their country Things To Do

You will never get bored in Barbados! There are a lot of fun activities to do here, like the ones mentioned below:

• Explore Harrisons Cave.

• Go on a boat trip to explore the island’s reefs and swim with the fishes and turtles.

• Go for safari tour, glass bottom tours and The Boat Yard.

• Make sure you also check out the nightlife.

The Weather

The weather here stays warm all year round. The temperature here is usually around 85 degrees with steady and fresh tropical breezes.

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