Constitutional Rubbish

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Americans need a civics lesson. And so do politicians. Of all the wrong and delusional thinking about the US Constitution the one that is most thoroughly incorrect and routinely used for political propaganda purposes is that there are three coequal branches of the federal government.

You hear presidents, members of Congress and media pundits say it all the time. They are wrong. Nowhere in the Constitution or the Federalist Papers is there any statement or declaration that the three branches are coequal. Why has this myth persisted for so long? Why do so many prominent and supposedly educated people keep invoking this outright lie?

Make no mistake. Either in theory or practice is there any basis whatsoever for believing that the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government are coequal. It also defies common sense.

Historical analysis has always shown that the Founders, if anything, intended for Congress to be preeminent, and not the President and the executive branch. For example, only Congress has the constitutional power to remove the President and other high officers of the executive branch as well as the judiciary, but the latter cannot remove any member of Congress. And Congress has control of raising and spending government funds as well as the power to overrule any presidential attempt to veto legislation. That Congress does not always choose to fully exercise its constitutional powers does not remove them.

As to the Supreme Court and the whole judiciary, they function only as long as Congress provides funds, the executive branch provides security, and both choose to obey court decisions. More importantly, the Supreme Court does not act on its own to enforce the Constitution, even when the President and Congress disobey it, but it could.

It is time for Americans to stop and think. In what exact ways are the three branches coequal? According to the dictionary coequal means resembling each other in all respects. But ridding the culture of constitutional myths seems awfully difficult, especially since Garry Wills published his excellent book “A Necessary Evil” a decade ago, which artfully exposed a number of them.

In particular, presidents seem to like talking about the coequal branches of government, including Barack Obama. In January 2008 Obama said this in a speech: “No law can give Congress a backbone if it refuses to stand up as the co-equal branch the Constitution made it.” Do presidents really want coequal branches? I think not. But they want Americans to keep believing in coequality, because it sounds good and adds an aura of respect for government that politicians desperately want.

In reality, presidents with the most political power want others with far less power to feel good. They want to keep the public believing (incorrectly) that the president is very limited in power. If George W. Bush proved anything it was not just that he created the imperial presidency, but that over time the presidency has become a mostly unchecked, pre-eminent and over-powerful government force. They have accumulated far more powers than ever envisioned by the Constitution. By regularly invoking the false coequality of branches argument and its derivative checks and balances thesis, presidents intentionally spread the propaganda to safeguard an all-powerful presidency and executive branch.

Meanwhile, Americans are largely ignorant that Congress has refused to honor and obey an important constitutional option in Article V: a convention of state delegates that could propose constitutional amendments, despite over 750 applications from all 50 states for a convention. It is their way of preserving exclusivity for proposing amendments and presidents say nothing because they fear amendments curbing their power. The Supreme Court does nothing because it likes amending the Constitution through its decisions.

Understand this: Having distinct constitutional responsibilities does not make branches coequal. The myth of coequality protects our delusional democracy and makes a mockery of our constitutional republic. If people really want coequal branches then they should start thinking about a constitutional amendment to make it so. Alternatively, we need Congress and the judiciary to act with far greater strength and conviction to use their constitutional powers and more effectively constrain presidential powers.

If prominent people tell a lie enough times, again, and again, and again, then the public lie becomes accepted fact, a cultural myth. So it is with the three coequal branches of government lie. It will be defended. It serves a purpose: False confidence in constitutional government.

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Robotics: A Look at The Future Technology

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What do you know about the future of the robotics? Well, we can’t say anything for sure as technology is evolving at a rapid pace in all areas, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. However, one thing is obvious: Robots will have a great role in the life of a common man as well, not to mention that they will be used in the industries as well.

A research firm made 10 predictions for robotics that we are going to talk about in this article. The list has some really interesting forecasts that may have a great impact on our society and business.

Robots And the future of surgery

Nowadays, surgeons are using robotics in their surgical operations. As a matter of fact, technological development in AI, navigation, computer vision, MEMS sensor and other technologies have been making the robots consistently better.

Moreover, robotics will speed up the process of innovation, hence disrupting and modifying the paradigm of the future business operations. In addition, robotics can sharpen the competitive edge of a company by improving quality, and increasing productivity. Given below are some predictions that will help you get a glimpse of the future of robotics.

1. Growth of Robotics

In 2019, about 30% of the use of robotics in industries will be in the form of a RaaS model of business. This will help businesses cut down on the cost of robot deployment.

2. Robotics Officer

In 2019, about 30% of the major organizations of the world will use a chief robot officer in order to make their businesses better.

3. Evolving Competition

In 2020, large organizations will be able to choose from different vendors with the entrance of new players in the multi-billion dollar industry of information and communications in order to increase the deployment of robotics.

4. Talent Race

In 2020, the growth of robots will boost the talent race. As a result, about 35% of the jobs related to robotics will be vacant and the mean salary will go up by at least 60%.

5. Regulations

In 2019, the governments will introduce new regulations related to robots in order to preserve jobs and resolve privacy, safety and security concerns.

6. Software-defined robots

In 2020, about 60% of these machines will rely on cloud-based apps in order to introduce new skills, apps and cognitive capabilities. As a result, the world will see a robotic marketplace that will be cloud-based.

7. Collaborative robots

In 2018, about 30% of the robots will be smart collaborative machines that will be 300% faster than the robots of today. Plus, they will be safely work around humans.

8. RoboNet

In 2020, about 40% of the commercially available robots will be part of a net of shared intelligence. As a result, the overall operational efficiency of the robots will go up by 200%.

9. Automating of operations

Two years from now, around 35% of the big organizations, such as health, logistics, and utilities will use the robots for the purpose of automating operations.

10. Ecommerce

In 2018, around 45% of the major international e-commerce companies will use robots in their delivery operations and fulfillment warehousing.

So, hopefully, this will give you a pretty good idea of how the robotics will shape the world in a few years from now.

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The Rising Popularity of Electric Cars

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Popularity of the state-of-the-art electric cars is on the rise. According to an industry source, by 2020, electric cars will be in vogue worldwide, and their global sales will rise up to $635 billion.

With this rise in demand for electric cars, the need for appropriate universal charging systems will be felt more vividly; And this can be made possible only through the dialogs and concerted efforts of the policy makers, car manufacturers, researchers working in the field of automobile science, and consumers all across the world.

Now, coming to the reason behind the increased popularity of electric cars, the mechanism that drives these car engines requires an optimal economic structure. The vehicles also require lesser automotive parts, and most of them are cheaper than those required for other available diesel or petrol cars in the market. But the most significant advantage of electric cars is that they cut down to emission level to the lowest, and in today’s time this is very vital, as ensuring sustainable development through the use of renewable energy sources is the need of the hour.

However, there is a challenge in the way of developing these alternative energy driven cars. The cost of a high-capacity rechargeable battery amounts to almost two-third of the cost of the electric cars, and this makes them quite an expensive buy for the consumers. Additionally, the issue of the recharging standard is also there.

Nevertheless, all the leading nations, pioneering the cause of sustainable development, are working towards this critical issue. Cutting-edge technologies are being discovered every alternate day. It is expected that a solution will be worked out soon, and alternative mobility solutions like electric cars will be able put up a grand show in the years to come.

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Destination Asia-Pacific – The 21st Century’s Tourism Hub

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Travel sector looks upbeat for Asia-Pacific region?

According to a study conducted in 2013, the year was good for international tourism and strongest for destinations in the Asia Pacific region – Asia saw six per cent growth. Moreover, the number of international tourists increased by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (as a sub-region of the Asia-Pacific) registered a 10 per cent increase. China emerged with a record number of international tourist arrivals in 2013, at 55.69 million.Asia’s tourism industry employs 65 million people and supports one in 12 jobs – exceeding industries such as financial services.

Needless to say, this growth also led to the generation of 1 million new jobs and accounted for USD2 trillion in contributions to GDP, equivalent to roughly nine per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP). This signifies that at present, this sector employs approximately 65 million people and supports one in 12 jobs – exceeding industries such as financial services.

What tourism brings to the table

With more inbound tourists exploring different cities in the Asia-Pacific region as holiday destinations, the benefits abound.

Economic growth

The contribution of the travel and tourism sector to this region’s GDP is expected to grow by 5.4 per cent per annum by 2024. More employment opportunities will also emerge in sectors like hospitality, airlines, transportation services and restaurants, to name a few. By 2014, travel and tourism will account for 79 million jobs.

Social benefits

As the tourism industry matures, social media platforms are making headway. Most of these online platforms, including online forums and travel blogs, are being increasingly used by companies to disseminate information to larger audience. Needless to say, social media is leading to greater awareness of travel among Asians. This has been one of the factors driving the upsurge in budget air travel within Southeast Asia.

Eco-friendliness

Sustainable tourism is emerging as one of the key growth drivers for this sector. Members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group are making joint efforts in the direction of a sustainable future in tourism. APEC’s Tourism Working Group is an initiative to help promote growth in travel and tourism in the region.

Where are the opportunities?

As the Asia-Pacific region becomes an increasingly popular holiday destination, it is gradually emerging as a leader on the global tourism stage.

How will this evolution take place?

Emergence of new traveler segments

A clear shift is underway in the preferences of travelers wherein a customized approach would best cater to their travelling demands. This has given rise to an array of categories for travelers under the female business traveler, small business traveler, visiting friends and family traveler as well as the senior traveler, not to mention the lesbian and gay or LGBT traveler. This growing consciousness of segmented demand will create opportunities for service providers to produce more targeted offerings.

Technological advancement in the region

Online transactions and mobile devices are emerging as key mediums for travel bookings. In countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, the standard fixed internet phase has evolved to mobile device-centric internet usage. Thus, it has become crucial for agents and travel service providers to support mobile solutions or become obsolete.

Moreover, social media is now emerging as a powerful medium of information and decision influencing. 61% of Indonesians mention that they use social media during travel as a means of seeking advice from friends and contacts.

Cruise control

Consumers aged 18-30 are showing strong interest in cruise holidays.

Many travellers have expressed a keen interest in cruise holidays – with the strongest interest cited by the 18-30 age group. This represents a market opportunity for travel agents. But infrastructure is holding back the cruise industry. Many terminals in the region lack the capacity to accommodate larger vessels.

Growth of budget airlines

The global middle-class is expanding rapidly and is expected to reach, 2.1 billion by 2030. Most of the increase is coming from Indonesia, India and China. According to research in 2013, 47% of leisure travelers have taken at least one international flight with a budget airline in the past 12 months.

Challenges ahead

The Asia-Pacific’s travel industry seems to present many business opportunities. Can growth be sustained?

Easing travel access within Asia-Pacific countries

As Asian governments focus on economic integration through trade and investment liberalization, travel between nations will pick up. A strong indicator of liberalization is the increase in bilateral free trade agreements (FTA). With just 53 in 2000, there are now 250 FTAs in various stages of development as of September 2012. Further liberalization is on the cards. Asian governments are bringing down trade barriers via the AEC, RCEP and TPP multi-lateral agreements. One barriers that trade agreements could help address is reducing visa restrictions. This is a huge impediment to the industry, particularly in terms of capturing demand from China and India, as Chinese and Indian travelers tend to require visas for most destinations in this region.

Lack of infrastructure

Improvement in infrastructure is required, especially for the cruise industry. Although home port cruise terminals are being established, the region lacks terminals which can accommodate large and more modern vessels. Moreover, to cater to the potential of outbound tourism from China and India, enhanced airline capacity, improved airport infrastructure and less stringent visa policies need to be addressed.

Enhancing customer experience

Embracing technology to reach out to a target segment and improve the online customer experience has become a crucial competitive success factor. Service providers need to understand that web presence is absolutely critical because travelers often use the internet to make travel bookings. They also read recommendations on social media (often on mobile devices) before choosing a holiday destination. Service providers face pressure to enhance their ratings on social media platforms and online forums as travelers increasingly seek validation from online communities rather than advice from traditional sources.

Human capital crunch

Although there has been a boom in the travel sector, investments in human capital seem to lag behind those in infrastructure such as hotels and airports. According to a report in 2014, an expected shortage of eight million jobs is foreseen in the next 15-20 years.

Upcoming trends in travel

Catering to various types of travelers is big on the agenda of travel service providers as a one-stop approach is no longer practical. Some of the upcoming trends include:

Focus on millennials

The growing impact of millennials is undeniable in this region. Most of them fall in the age-group of 18 – 30 years and are much more ethnically diverse compared to other generations. They are young and have the enthusiasm to explore the world. Some of the key characteristics of the millennials are a preference for urban over resort destinations, likelihood to travel in pursuit of favourite hobbies and roaming with friends from the same age group in an organized fashion.

Senior citizens

Contrary to popular belief, senior citizens are no less keen on travelling. They are not just enthusiastic but very demanding as well. Customer service is a crucial component of their travelling experience.

Taste for luxury

As the number of millionaires continue to grow, so do the number of affluent U.S. households – with an increase from 10.5 million in 2012 to 20.5 million by 2020. This has fuelled the rise of luxury holidays. This particular sector will be dominated by the U.S., Japan and Europe, but significant demand will come from China, India and the Middle-East in future.

On the other hand, luxury travellers are active in writing hotel reviews, representing 52 per cent of all hotel reviews globally between 2012 and 2014 – adding another target segment of interest.

Moving forward

The Asia Pacific region’s travel industry is growing at a fast pace, carrying economic, social and environmental benefits in its wake. Ample opportunities have emerged for investors with the rise of new travel segments, technological advancements and the as yet under-served cruise industry picking up, alongside the phenomenal growth of budget airlines, which have opened up Asian travel destinations to budget travelers.

At the same time, challenges remain. Infrastructure is under-developed and too many travel service providers are not differentiating their offerings enough by segment. Millennials, seniors and luxury travellers, for example, have very different needs and wants when travelling. And most industry players have not yet fully capitalized on the incredible rise in mobile internet usage in the region.

Going forward, the tourism industry in Asia is likely to move into a maturation stage, when more differentiated and segmented offerings start to appear, both online and off-line. We can expect different sections of major tourist cities to increasingly focus on different tourist segments. We can also expect that national tourism promotion boards will increasingly try to position their countries to cater to a wide range of inbound as well as domestic tourist segments.

And one final word: travel clubs and travel agents should not be written off yet. The personal touch cannot be completely replaced by a website.

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eCommerce Trends in 2017: What Should You Expect?

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The eCommerce industry is evolving with each passing hour. According to the predictions by eMarketers, online investment has reached its peak to over $22 trillion in 2016. Further, this number is expected to rise by $27 trillion in 2020.

eCommerce companies are well aware of the fact that they’re competing in a fast paced, digitally connected industry. Here, the customers are entirely different from those in traditional business. People are smarter and want everything on their fingertips. Hence, it is important for the eMarketers to reconsider their strategies this year. Each year, trends in eCommerce emerge greatly from how customers buy products, what are they looking for and how are they responding to the new technologies.

While there are many trends to look for in the New Year, these 3 are the ones eMarketers definitely should not miss! So, if you need some help with setting up priorities for 2017, here are a handful of useful tips to get inspired from.

1. Say Hello to Mobile!

You might have heard this a million times and yes it still rules the trend. eCommerce website designing companies that haven’t gone mobile till now, 2017 is the year to tie your shoelaces. As an eMarketer, you should be aware of the fact that “on an average, consumer reaches for their smartphone 150 – 200 times a day”. Also, according to the Gartner report, “only 14% of companies are shopping on using mobile as an engagement platform”. You should remember that mobiles are still an affordable medium for the consumers than computers. There should also be no wonder that online vendors globally confirm growth of mobile transactions every year. As a result of which mobile traffic has gone beyond desktop on the internet. Google has also made it mandatory for the web designing companies to develop all forms of websites mobile-friendly. What more! Consumers will increasingly interact with ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE in 2017 and they’ll love it! All these changes indicate only one thing – offer your consumers a mobile experience that is as smooth as possible.

2. Make the most of your Data

Rise in compelling data on millions of products varying to the situations is another important trend to keep a note of. The success of any business depends greatly on their customers, their interests and what appeal them the most. Hence, by exploiting data about their different customers, collected through different phases of their buyers’ journey, eCommerce website development companies and eMarketers will be able to understand their target customers better and even predict their behavior. This drives eMarketers to reach new levels of personalization, and customizing customer experiences according to every individual visiting the E-store. Hence, make the best use of improved analytics algorithm that can help you understand your customers the way they want you to do.

3. Pledge to Offer a Dynamic Shopping Experience

As already discussed in trend 1st, customers today are smart and want everything handy. Hence, as an eCommerce business owner, you should work towards offering experiences and interactions to your target customers. The market is extremely competitive and you are no longer merely selling products and services. Instead, you should include your customers in your brand. This means, turn your customer experience as your number one priority. Remember, customer is the biggest referral today. A positive customer feedback can enhance your customer base impressively. Offer your customers with more selling opportunities with real-time customer service, easy return policy, and same day delivery. Such dynamic shopping experience will really make you stand out. Build trust and relationship with your customers. Give them an opportunity to deal directly with your brand.

The Bottom Story

While this is not everything you should be looking out for, there are several big and small trends that will prevail in 2017. Feel free to tell us if we missed any trend or if there’s one you find specifically interesting.

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2020 Vision: Developing Generation Y Leaders

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In the workplace today, the generation known as Baby Boomers dominates the management and senior leadership ranks. And they are starting to retire. By 2020, in less than a decade, the number of Boomers in the workforce will have decreased by fifty percent and less than twenty percent of organizations have succession plans in place. The challenge for business leaders and Human Resources experts is not just the increase in the number of positions that will be vacant, but the expertise that will go out the door with them, particularly at the senior leadership level of organizations. We should now be developing and implementing leadership continuity processes to transfer the required expertise from these senior leaders to the next generation of leaders.

The next generation of leaders will most likely be dominated by members of Generation Y. By 2020, this generational cohort will have grown at twice the rate of Generation X (the cohort sandwiched between Boomers and Generation Y). So not only should we be concerned with implementing processes to develop future leaders, we should also be concerned with how best to do this when it is highly likely we will have to skip a generation to grow the next generation of leaders.

To ensure we have 2020 vision, we should consider the following three concepts.

1. ‘lost knowledge’ – the expertise our organization needs to continue to be successful that will go out the door with the retiring boomers;

2. knowledge transfer – of the critical skills required – between the generations, and;

3. recognition and reward to foster succession planning.

These concepts, when fully developed as part of our organization culture, will create leadership continuity, the process that we can use to continually develop the next generation of leaders. These concepts, when implemented effectively, will create a culture of motivation that encourages senior leaders to build a legacy of leadership expertise.

The concept of ‘lost knowledge’:

This involves developing a good understanding of the various costs associated with potentially losing the knowledge required to maintain and continuously grow the organization’s performance. Calculating the cost of lost knowledge – the expertise that will go out the door with the senior leaders – is what needs to be calculated to sell leadership on the benefits of investing in leadership continuity. We need to make sure we clearly identify which expertise, which skills and knowledge needs to be retained and which skills and knowledge will not be important in the future.

The concept of ‘knowledge transfer’:

As Boomers exit the workforce they will take their expertise with them unless we have in place a process to capture and transfer that expertise to the next generation of leaders. It’s important to get these current leaders to take on the responsibility for transfer of this expertise. This not only takes effort, but it takes time and dollars. When we consider transferring these critical skills we need to consider the differences in learning styles. And there are fairly significant differences in learning styles. When seeking to transfer knowledge, we need to be able to identify clearly who is the intended receiver of the knowledge.

There are a number of learning methodologies available but the most effective in this situation are those that involve both teacher and learner in active participation. The methodologies that encourage reciprocal relationships, sharing relationships and partnerships are the ones best suited for transfer of knowledge.

They are face to face methodologies and they recognize the expertise of the senior leader – demonstrating respect for their knowledge and skills as well as their contribution to the success of the organization. These methodologies reward future leaders with the mentoring and coaching they desire so they can get as much experience as possible and help them to develop the people/communication/soft skills they will need as well as allowing them to work on developing their emotional intelligence.

The concept of ‘recognition and reward’:

There are key differences between Boomers and Generation Y when it comes to recognition and reward. Boomers want to be rewarded for results and their contribution, Generation Y wants to be rewarded for learning and knowledge acquisition. Understanding these differences is vital to leadership development continuity – providing the environment where both cohorts can achieve the reward and recognition they seek.

In organizations where Boomers are recognized and rewarded for their expertise, they can develop a leadership legacy which encourages them to expend the time and effort necessary to develop the next generation of leaders. Continuity of employment is a form for recognition for senior leaders, learning and development opportunities are both recognition and reward of skill and potential for future leaders, and retirement planning is a reward for senior leaders. For future leaders, without providing learning and development opportunities, the message sent to both current and future leaders is that knowledge transfer is not a priority. Providing these opportunities will enhance the working relationship between the cohorts and motivate them to learn together.

2020 Vision and Leadership Continuity:

With 2020 vision we can ensure we develop Generation Y leaders by aligning the needs of both senior and future leaders.

For senior leaders:

  • They need the time and resources to focus on skills transfer.
  • The critical skills they hold need to be identified.
  • Their past and continuing contribution must be recognized – they need to be valued for their passion and the expertise they bring.
  • Encourage them to build a legacy. We all want to be recognized for our value and our contribution – remind them of their responsibility to the organization’s future by developing a legacy.
  • Provide them with the tools to go into the future – retirement planning.

For future leaders:

  • Help them learn about senior leaders, their contribution and their value. Educate them.
  • Assess their current skills level versus the critical skills identified with senior leaders. What are the gaps and how will you help them to close these gaps?
  • Match their skills needs to senior leaders’ expertise – help them to select the best methods for gaining these skills. Put in place social-technical mentoring – where both participants have plans in place to learn from one another. Continue to build the confidence and expertise of both parties.
  • Be flexible – consider their learning styles and find ways to accommodate these styles. Make sure these future leaders have the information and tools they need to become future leaders.

To get started, we should prepare a risk assessment so the senior management in our organizations are clear as to the impact of not implementing a leadership continuity process. Once we have their commitment, the process can be kicked off by determining the best methodologies for knowledge transfer. With 2020 vision, we will be able to create a motivating culture where senior leaders are provided with the time and resources they need to mentor and coach the next generation of leaders, to actively participate in the knowledge transfer process, letting them know their contribution is valued and they have continuity of employment.

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Ecommerce Trends To Watch For In 2017

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Many studies have shown a double-digit rise in worldwide ecommerce sales in 2016. Many analysts even predict that the worldwide ecommerce sales will increase consistently till 2020. However, the number of people accessing ecommerce websites on their mobile devices has been increasing rapidly. Likewise, a number of studies have shown a steady increase in mobile commerce sales driven by customers’ mobile engagement behavior.

Each enterprise needs to ensure that its ecommerce website keep users engaged by functioning like a mobile app. It must optimize its ecommerce website for mobile devices and allow users make payment through popular mobile wallets. At the same time, the business also needs to keep track of the emerging ecommerce trends to accomplish higher conversion rate and increase digital commerce revenue. There is a series of trends that will impact and shape ecommerce sales in 2017.

7 Trends that will Impact and Shape Ecommerce Business in 2017

1) Personalized Shopping Experience

Unlike mobile apps, websites lack the capability to personalize user experience by taking advantage of the features of underlying device and operating system. But many enterprises nowadays use analytics tools to gather a wide variety of customer data. The data collected through analytics tools help businesses to identify the preferences and understand the behavior of individual customers. Also, an ecommerce business can leverage the information to engage customers by showing the right product, content, ads, and deals to each customer. It can further personalize the shopping experience of each customer and boost ecommerce sales by delivering app-like user experience.

2) Social Selling

The data posted on various websites depict that people spend more time on social networking platforms than other websites. Many businesses promote their products or services on popular social networks to divert visitors to their ecommerce websites regularly. There are a number of social networking websites that allow users to buy products or services directly without visiting an ecommerce website. Many social networks are even planning to roll out new features to generate more revenue by facilitating social selling. The ecommerce business owners can take advantage of these social selling options to promote their products more effectively and boost sales.

3) Chat Bots

Many high-traffic websites nowadays interact with customers through chat bots. In addition to working as customer service executives, the chat bots also help users to perform commercial activities like shopping and booking. Many ecommerce website developers and owners will soon explore ways to keep visitors engaged by interacting with the machines efficiently. However, an enterprise has to deploy a variety of chat bots to meet the varying needs and preferences of customers. Some ecommerce companies have already used chat bots to provide personal shopping service and send messages. Many enterprises will soon use chat bots to make their ecommerce website more interactive and make shopping experience personalized.

4) Artificial Intelligence

The popular mobile platforms make people use artificial intelligence on a daily basis. A large number of people nowadays perform common tasks by talking to their machines through Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana. Large ecommerce companies like Amazon have already started using artificial intelligence to chat with customer. But the ecommerce websites will need a variety of personal assistant to optimize the end-to-end shopping experience. More and more ecommerce businesses will take advantage of artificial intelligence to interact with customers in a smarter way and without deploying additional staff.

5) Contactless Payment

The mobile commerce apps enable users to choose from many payment modes – debit/credit card, internet banking and mobile wallets. A large number of buyers nowadays prefer making payment through their mobile wallets to debit or credit cards. In USA, some companies like Starbucks are using contactless payment options successfully to generate more revenue. Hence, the customers will love to buy product from an ecommerce website that allows them to use contactless payment options. Hence, many enterprises have to redesign their ecommerce websites in 2017 to accommodate the emerging mobile and contactless payment options.

6) Same Day Delivery and Return

There are many people who still prefer brick-and-mortar stores to web stores due to instant delivery. The web store owners must focus on reducing the delivery time of online orders to make more people buy products online. A number of studies have also shown that many customers do not hesitate to pay extra for same-day delivery. Hence, the ecommerce businesses have to explore ways to reduce delivery time of orders. Some companies will even provide flexible delivery option to customers and set up local drop-off points to ensure faster delivery. Likewise, they also need to ensure that each customer has option to return orders without putting extra time, effort and money.

7) User Generated Content

Many people nowadays read the product review and comments posted by other buyers before buying a product. Likewise, many people even choose a web store based on the shopping experience posted by other customers. Hence, enterprises can easily boost ecommerce sales by providing additional information about the products through pictures, description, specifications, and user reviews. Many ecommerce businesses will encourage customers to write reviews and share their shopping experience. They will even explore ways to promote the product more effectively through the user generated content.

However, the ecommerce trends keep changing at regular intervals. Hence, an enterprise has to keep track of the emerging trends to generate more ecommerce revenue. At the same time, it must explore ways to attract and retain customers by improving discovery, logistics and delivery through latest technologies.

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The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Paramedic

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Choosing to become a paramedic is a great decision. As a paramedic, you play a critical part in helping to save lives during an emergency situation. However, the job of an advanced emergency medical technician is not all sunshine and roses. As with any job, there are pros and cons to entering this emergency medical services field. Below, you will find some common pros and cons associated with becoming a paramedic.

To get things started, here are some of the pros to being a paramedic.

Helping Others: This by far can be considered the number one pro to becoming a paramedic. You are directly involved with helping someone else. Often times, you are helping to save the life of someone you don’t even know. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you’re making a difference to a person who is potentially having the worst day of their life.

Good Pay and Job Outlook: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment as an EMT and paramedic is expected to grow by about 33 percent between now and the year 2020. This is much faster than other occupations. Paramedics earn more money than basic EMTs. Your salary is commensurate with the level of education and experience you have. As you gain more in both knowledge and training, you can expect your pay to also increase.

Easy of Entry: In order to become a paramedic, it is not required that you go to college. In most cases, you simply need to be at least 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma. After that, you have a number of options as to how you obtain your formal training in order to become eligible to sit for and pass the state administered paramedic exam.

Now, let’s look at some of the cons of deciding to pursue a career as a paramedic.

Lack of Sleep: As a paramedic, you may be required to work long hours. As a result, you may end up working a shift where you are on the clock for 24 hours, and then off for 48 hours. Chances are, you’re going to end up needing to be awake for those full 24 hours too because you might not always get the opportunity to sleep through the night.

Not So Nice Patients: Let’s face it, as a paramedic you are more than likely going to come into contact with people who are not having the greatest day. Patients and their family members, as a result of being involved in an emergency situation, might speak to you in language that is offensive and/or rude. In extreme situations, you may even be the target of someone’s attempt to assault you, all because of the stress that an emergency situation can cause.

Risk for Work Related Injuries and Illnesses: As a result of all of the bending, lifting, and kneeling that you’ll be frequently doing, you are at risk for suffering from a work-related injury and/or illness. You may be spit on or come into contact with a patient’s vomit. As an advanced EMT, you might come into contact with persons who are infected with diseases like hepatitis-B or AIDS.

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Steps to Building a Business Empire in Nigeria

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Nigerians wishing to build their own businesses would do well to learn from the bottom up and equip themselves with the skills necessary to meet the creative challenges of entrepreneurship. The skills necessary to take the local economy into overdrive are simultaneously as simple as stock-taking, marketing, and accounting; and as complex as creating joint ventures that grow to be hugely successful business.

Entrepreneurship education, which has been made mandatory for Nigerian college students of all disciplines, is the key first step to creating and sustaining a valuable business. Due to the country’s booming informal economy, there is a substantial population that is already conversant in entrepreneurial dynamics by virtue of apprenticeship or involvement in family business.

From Resurgence to Glory

From a historical perspective, Nigeria is still in its infancy. The return of democracy in 1999 after almost half a century of bitter conflict and political turmoil paved the way for political stability and a revival of national aspirations. The government of former president Olusegun Obasanjo unveiled the nation’s ambitious 2020 campaign to take the country to the top 20 world economies by that year. An extensive and ongoing reforms programme has helped recover some lost ground, and the country currently ranks 41st in global GDP rankings. More importantly, it achieved a fourfold increase in the size of its economy in a ten-year period from $36 billion in 1997 to $165 billion in 20071, making it the second largest economy in the continent after South Africa.

However, there is a persistent and disturbing underside to these achievements. Nigeria’s human development indices remain abysmal, with more than half of its 148 million people living on less than $1 per day2. More than anything, these facts indicate huge economic imbalances largely attributable to the country’s prolonged overdependence on oil and gas exports to the detriment of local enterprise and non-industrial sectors. The success of the country’s renewed economic goals is contingent to a large extent on entrepreneurship development that adequately harnesses its abundant natural and human resources. Promoting business development from the micro-level onwards is the only way for Nigeria to achieve its long-term goals.

The first step towards building a viable business empire is developing an entrepreneurial temper and also inspiring an entrepreneur revolution – through formal training and the acquisition of skills relevant to Nigeria’s local realities. That the federal government places a premium on entrepreneurship training is evident from the fact that it made it a mandatory part of college education across all disciplines. The opportunity for vocational and practical skills-development training is a prerequisite for emerging entrepreneurs.

The second step is the application of this training to a viable business model. Unemployment is a critical handicap for Nigeria, with more than 40 million of its people jobless according to the World Bank’s latest figures. The corollary to this has been a proliferation of the informal economy that has traditionally sustained the country’s urban and rural poor. Activities in the informal economy cover an extremely wide spectrum of products, services and financial operations – from machine-shop manufacturing, through utility services to contributory funding – that account for an estimated 65% of Gross National Product. These traditional activities provide the backdrop against which emerging enterprises can flourish, by drawing from their collective experience and combining them with new business procedures.

The third step is the employment of new business models, primarily with regards to accessing equity participation rather than collateral debt. Enhanced business productivity also requires infrastructure development and removal of trade and administrative constraints. Developing enterprises must work to acquire technical support and capacity building assistance. Due to the realization that technology is crucial for business development, there has been a surge in Internet providers and cafes across Nigeria as more and more people go online to both start new enterprises and expand existing ones.

The Internet also provides the means for the fourth step, which is collaboration with other ventures or offshore investors to develop businesses in a global perspective and beyond national borders. Such endeavours, by extension, will lead to the creation of not just wealth, but employment opportunities and ancillary enterprises that will drive Nigeria’s dream of becoming and economic superpower.

The benefits of a successful business often go beyond its apparent achievements, and this holds especially true for Nigeria. Entrepreneurship provides a productive outlet for Nigerians looking to be self-employed. It also creates beneficial competition and helps the development of innovative business practices. Most importantly, however, Nigeria’s enterprise development initiatives will help mobilise its immense human resource potential for sustainable and inclusive growth.

The Challenges Beyond

Individual enterprise is unfortunately not enough to advance Nigeria on the path to a superior economic standing in the world. There is a significant administrative and policy component determining the success of any emerging business empire. Most of Nigeria’s reforms process has therefore been skewed towards developing the correct environment to nurture business development. The country’s policy makers need to concentrate on a few key areas:

* Prioritising and reinvigoration of the non-oil sector through effective changes in policy and governmental outlook.

* Consolidation of lending institutions to enhance access and availability of finance to the private sector, especially in the MSME segment.

* Developing more effective coordination between various government, donor and private sector agencies.

* Reducing high business costs by correcting inherent deficits by way of infrastructure, policy and implementation.

* Institutionalization of an entrepreneurial revolution movement which would be aided by key and successful entrepreneurs in Nigeria which will even enhance entrepreneurship from the grassroots

Building a successful business empire in Nigeria has its share of imponderables, largely owing to the nascent state of its economy and the imbalances that continue to stunt rapid growth. More than anything else, it requires a creative outlook, at both individual and government levels, and an attitude that will foster wholesome prosperity.

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5 Major Artificial Intelligence Hurdles We’re on Track to Overcome by 2020

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Unless you’re in AI development yourself, you need to start thinking about tech partnerships that could bring AI to your business.

Artificial intelligence (AI) gets more advanced every year, but there are still some major limitations keeping us from seeing a futuristic reality that includes robot butlers and near-complete societal automation.

Fortunately, some of these limitations are on the verge of being overcome, and if you watch and plan carefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of those improvements for your business.

Here are some of the biggest hurdles we may overcome as early as 2020:

1. Unsupervised learning

Right now, most AI systems “learn” new information through a kind of structured force-feeding, relying on information given to those systems by humans. However, this form of “supervised learning” isn’t scalable, and doesn’t mimic the way that human beings naturally learn.

In fact, we humans are immersed in our environments, perceiving pretty much everything that crosses our path and naturally filtering out what’s unimportant. We also experiment to learn how objects interact and how the world works.

Currently, we’re still a few years away from machines that can learn this way, but when we get there, we’ll have the ability to use them to generate or augment ideas, and produce concepts we couldn’t come up with on our own.

2. Creativity and abstract thinking

Humans tend to think of ideas — and solutions to problems — in terms of abstractions. For example, think about a horse. Chances are, you aren’t thinking about a very specific example of a horse, and you don’t need to list out all the required “ingredients” that constitute a horse. Instead, you conceptualize the general idea of what a “horse” is.

A modern computer, on the other hand, would need thousands of examples of horses to understand what “horse” means, and even then, it would have to define this conceptual equine concretely and completely to use that idea in any application. If we want machines that can take raw data and turn it into intuitive concepts that can be grasped, we’ll need to create machines that can think abstractly.

What’s intriguing here is that we’re already on our way, having created deep learning programs that understand games like Go, and chess, as more than brute-force possibilities. By 2020, we could be taking the next step.

3. Public trust

Self-driving cars run on sophisticated AI software to avoid collisions and drive better than slow-thinking, distracted, mistake-prone human drivers. To date, self-driving cars’ record has been relatively clean, compared to that of human drivers.

However, only 39 percent of U.S. consumers claim they would feel safe in an autonomous vehicle. AI is still a foreign concept to most of us, and thanks to decades of science fiction, many of us are inherently distrustful of any fully mechanized solution. However, thanks to the gradual introduction of AI systems, public trust is steadily increasing, and may reach a point by 2020 that allows for widespread adoption.

4. Integration

AI doesn’t exist by itself. It needs to be combined with something to be practical, such as those aforementioned self-driving cars. Integration into existing products, such as standard appliances and software programs, will be a major hurdle to overcome — and one we’re already overcoming. We’re already seeing a plethora of “smart” devices, but few of these feature true machine learning or AI tech.

Being able to incorporate deep learning elements into existing systems could instantly multiply our capabilities — and this may start happening soon.

5. General use

We have AI systems that can beat human Go masters, write poetry and pass the Turing test. But these were all created for specific applications. Could we develop an AI program that serves a more general, all-around use?

Personal digital assistants like Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa and Cortana are a good start, but they only scratch the surface of what modern AI is capable of when put to a single application. By 2020, I suspect we’ll either see the beginnings of “general” AI development, or further fracturing into more specific niche functions.

How this affects entrepreneurs

So, how might these beaten obstacles affect you and your business?

  • Better tools and analytics. First up, the tools and software you use to improve your business are going to get a major overhaul. They’ll be able to use data more efficiently and more accurately than your human data analysts, and you’ll be able to produce more intuitive, visual representations of those conclusions.
  • New customer needs. Your customers’ lives are going to change, and drastically. Their cars, appliances and even their homes will function more intelligently, which means the door’s open for a host of new solutions to address those new circumstances.
  • Human resources shifts. You may see a number of your internal positions become replaceable. At that point, you’ll need to decide between keeping a salaried body on staff or opting for a more cutting-edge, but less personal solution.
  • Partnership opportunities. Unless you’re in AI development yourself, you need to start thinking about tech partnerships that could bring AI to your business. Is there a way to make your product “smarter”? Is there a way to make machine learning improve the value of your services? Demand is about to skyrocket, so you need to be ready.

It’s hard to say exactly how AI will develop, but its momentum is strong, and there are no signs of its stopping. The better prepared you are for the future of AI, the more your business stands to bene fit in multiple areas. Get ahead of your competition now, and start planning for the next few years of AI development.

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