Straight to Work: 6 Reasons Generation Z Will Skip College

Will Generation Z finally disrupt the traditional path from college to career?

Larry Summers, the economist who served for five years as president of Harvard University, had this to say about the stagnation of education:

Not enough people are innovating enough in higher education. General Electric looks nothing like it looked in 1975. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford look a lot like they looked in 1975. They're about the same size to within a factor of two; they're about the same number of buildings; they operate on about the same calendar; they have many of the same people or some number of the same people in significant positions.

The main thing to say is that, for something that's all about ideas and for something that's all about young people, the pace of innovation in higher education is stunningly slow. We're still on a system where the break is in the summer. The reason we're on that system is that when everybody went to pick the plants, that was the natural way to organize school, and it's still going that way.

The relevance of higher education has been debated for years, but the emergence of Generation Z at a time when information is readily available 24/7 at the swipe of a finger makes the debate red hot.

Education might be changing, but it's not changing fast enough to remain relevant and desired by Generation Z.

6 Reasons Generation Z Will Skip College

1. Escalating Costs

Generation Z has had a front-row seat to watch Millennials start their careers with their shoelaces tied because of student debt.

Since 1978, the cost of four-year public education increased 151.1 percent while the median family income only increased 20.2 percent. Since 2004, there has been a 74 percent increase in average student debt.

In the U.S., over 17 million student loan borrowers are under the age of 30 and have a total of $376.3 billion in debt according to the Federal Reserve. For a borrower in their 20s, the average monthly student loan payment is $351, and the median monthly payment is $203. The average student loan debt balance for Americans in their 20s is about $22,135.

Only 27 percent of young college graduates with student loans say they are living comfortably, compared with 45 percent of college graduates of a similar age without outstanding loans.

Considering these staggering numbers, it's no surprise that 67 percent of Generation Z indicate their top concern is being able to afford college and one in five Generation Z say debt should be avoided at all costs. Thus they will be exploring education alternatives.

2. Increasing Education Alternatives

Seventy-five percent of Generation Z say there are other ways of getting a good education than going to college. (Read this for a list of compelling education alternatives.)

3.  Lengthening Life and Innovative Times

The global life expectancy of humans has extended from 31 in 1900 to 71 in 2015. As medicine and technology continue to advance, humans will live longer. In fact, the first person to live to 150 has likely already been born.

And Dell Technologies predicts that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't even been invented yet. How can the slow-evolving institutions that Summers refers to effectively prepare Generation Z?

The question Generation Z is left asking is: How will a four-year degree sustain me for my 100+ year career in a high-flux world? Generation Z will have to be committed to continuous learning and will look to their future employers to deliver the just-in-time learning they need and crave.

4. Educating is Going Corporate 

Generation Z is seriously considering forgoing a traditional college education to go work for a company that provides college-like training. And companies are preparing to pivot.

Jenn Prevoznik, the Global Head of Early Talent Acquisition at SAP, recently shared in an interview I had with her, that she is "all for" Generation Z skipping college to come work for SAP because what really matters are their skills not necessarily their degree. In Germany and Bangalore, SAP brings university education to their employees. On the weekends, professors come to SAP buildings and teach full-time employees. (Read this to learn how SAP plans to recruit 7,000 Generation Z employees.)

"On college campuses, something unusual is happening: [Generation Z] students are asking corporate recruiters whether companies will help them get new skills as jobs shift," says James Manyika, Chairman and Director of the McKinsey Global Institute. With Generation Z in mind, companies like AT&T and Walmart are making job retraining a high priority. (Read this to learn how to effectively train the next generation in the workplace.)


5. Shifting Priorities for Parents

Baby Boomers viewed education as a dream, Generation X as a differentiator, Millennials as a cultural norm, and Generation Z as for law and medical students only. Because Baby Boomers held education in such a high regard, they instilled the belief and need to attend college into their Millennial children. 


Many argue that the only reason college remains relevant today is due to societal and peer pressure. In the minds of many Baby Boomers and Generation X parents, you failed as a parent if your child didn't go to college. 


The priority is different for Millennial parents. Only 39 percent of Millennials believe a college degree "lead[s] to a good job and higher lifetime earnings."

Millennials faith in college degrees seems to be wavering and it will come through in their parenting. I'm experiencing it myself as a Millennial parent of two kids under three-years-old. I have zero expectation for them to go to college. I am still saving for "education" but that could be spent in a multitude of ways. In talking with many of my Millennial peers, I am not alone in this thinking and planning.

6. Growing Gig Economy

Sixty-one percent of Generation Z who are still in high school and 43 percent of Generation Z who are in college say they would rather be entrepreneurs than employees when they graduate. According to Intuit's CEO, Brad Smith, "The gig economy...is now estimated to be about 34 percent of the workforce and expected to be 43 percent by the year 2020."

Growing up in a gig economy has altered how Generation Z views employment and the education required to begin working.
 

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.

This Is How Generation Z Will Bypass College

School originated to train obedient factory workers but hasn't evolved much since then.

Coursera and the University of Phoenix paved the way for people to digitally learn from a distance. Next, traditional and leading colleges began offering online courses--sometimes for free. Then institutions allowed degrees to be completed online, for example, GeorgiaInstituteof Technology partnered with Udacity and AT&T to offer the first online Master of Science in Computer Science from an accredited university that students can earn exclusively online for a fraction of the normal cost.

But are these education changes too little too late for Generation Z who has their sights on more innovative and agile education alternatives? 

7 Ways Generation Z Will Replace a College Education

1. MissionU

MissionU is a one-year college-alternative program that has no upfront costs. MissionU only gets paid once students earn at least $50,000, then students pay back 15 percent of their income for the first three years.

Each MissionU major is designed to prepare students for specific, high growth fields. Their highly specialized curriculums are developed with industry experts to give students the skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace of tomorrow. MissionU was founded by Adam Braun, the entrepreneur who also founded the nonprofit, Pencils of Promise, that has built over 400 schools across the world.

2. Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS)

CAPS is reimagining learning. According to the CAPS website...

"The Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) programs are nationally recognized, innovative high school programs. Students fast forward into their future and are fully immersed in a professional culture, solving real world problems, using industry standard tools and are mentored by actual employers, all while receiving high school and college credit. CAPS is an example of how business, community and public education can partner to produce personalized learning experiences that educate the workforce of tomorrow, especially in high skill, high demand jobs."

Programs like CAPS are really compelling for Generation Z who is really interested in making a strong and relevant connection between what they are learning and how it will apply to their future.

UnitedHealth Group (UHG) is a company benefiting from their involvement in CAPS programs. Pat Keran, senior director of innovation at UnitedHealth Group, said, "These kids are talking about careers at a young age and we want to expose them to potential ones at UHG. We realized that the technology skills that our college students had were developed young. As we dug a little deeper, we realized that high school students would be equally as competent. So if we are going to get the same output in the end, why not get on the radar even sooner?"

The experience Generation Z derives from participating in a CAPS program is so strong that many are considering forgoing college.

3. Thiel Fellowship

The Thiel Fellowship is intended for students under the age of 23 and offers them a total of $100,000 over two years, as well as guidance and other resources, to drop out of school and pursue other work.

Recently the Wall Street Journal reported some impressive results of this "build new things instead of sitting in a classroom" effort: "64 Thiel Fellows have started 67 for-profit ventures, raised $55.4 million in angel and venture funding, published two books, created 30 apps, and 135 full-time jobs." The Thiel Fellowship was founded by PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel.

4. UnCollege

UnCollege aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success. UnCollege encourages Generation Z to get out the classroom and into the real world where they learn through experimentation, coaching, and mentors. UnCollege replaces the typical freshman year with a real world experience and is a fraction of the cost of one year at college.

Participants spend ten weeks living abroad; another ten weeks attending workshops, networking, and building a portfolio that will impress future employers while living in San Francisco; and then twelve weeks involved in an internship putting their newly developed skills to use.

Dale Stephens is the founder and ironically a recipient of the Thiel Fellowship.

Travel, learn, and intern is a college-alternative formula Generation Z can get behind.

5. altMBA

The altMBA is an online leadership and management workshop. Founded in 2015 by bestselling author Seth Godin, the altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, WordPress, and Zoom to engage more than 100 students in an intense four-week process.

Each session of the workshop is led by a cadre of coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the public altMBA site. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. The tuition for the program is $3,850.

When Generation Z is at an age to consider an MBA, the altMBA or other options like The $100 MBA will be more prevalent and appealing to this cost conscious and digital-first generation.

6. WeWork

WeWork, the office-sharing giant, is launching a private elementary school for "conscious entrepreneurship" inside a New York City WeWork next fall.

In the pilot program, Generation Z students will spend one day a week on a farm outside of the city for hands-on experience. The rest of the time they will spend in Manhattan, where they'll get lessons in business from both employees and entrepreneur-customers of WeWork. The founders hope the school will encourage kids to become "disruptive" as young as possible.

7. Mishmash 

Generation Z will leverage their online resourcefulness to uncover the right learning platforms to level-up their know-how and skill sets. Resources like General Assembly, Lynda.com, Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, and YouTube are already giving Generation Z the learning edge to leapfrog college.
 

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.

Emerging Fashion Trends Shed Light On What Matters For Business In 2018

Every February, thousands of brands and fashion-related business professionals from across the globe flock to Las Vegas to source materials, place orders, and ultimately gain insight into -- if not fall in love with -- the latest fashion trends at MAGIC. During the three day event, known as the largest exhibition of women's apparel and accessories in the fashion industry, over $600 million worth of orders are placed; and brands both new and old face-off to meet the demands of the world's largest retailers.

As the Vice President of WWDMAGIC (the women's show) and three of UBM Fashion's other top shows including AccessoriesTheShow, FAME, and POOLTRADESHOW, Kelly Helfman is an industry leader with nearly two decades of experience under her very fashionable belt. The industry, for all of its seemingly superficial hype, ultimately provides a unique lens through which we can examine larger business trends - from how customers interact with and promote brands to where and how they shop.

I caught up with Helfman on the first day of the show, where she was busy launching GLAM, a new area at WWDMAGIC catering to the Millennial consumer. Our conversation illuminated three pivotal trends to watch in 2018, all of which have far reaching implications for the fashion industry and beyond.      

Trend #1: Brick and mortar retailers embrace digital transformation

We often read headlines about online retailers burying traditional brick and mortar business. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce still accounts for less than 10 percent of overall retail sales. This means consumers are still doing much of their shopping in places that have walls, ceilings, doors, and floors; but not necessarily because that's their preference.

Helfman acknowledges that shifting consumer preferences are a huge challenge, particularly for smaller, in-store sales driven brands: "There is no doubt that online will continue to grow very rapidly. If you have a brick and mortar, you also need to have your product available for online store purchasing, in addition to selling on Instagram and taking advantage of Facebook Live to move inventory."

Instead of treating the Internet like the enemy, physical retailers (from fashion to food) need to make online and mobile touchpoints an integral part of the customer experience. "It really goes beyond just being able to buy a product online," add Helfman. "It starts with how customers interact with your website and social media feeds, and then how the brand engages with them post-purchase."

Whether they're shopping at a major outlet or a tiny boutique, consumers want the ability to browse inventory on a store's website and find accurate information about prices, product availability, and events. Helfman aptly points out that any business can take advantage of a digital storefront, regardless of its size: "If a small store doesn't have the budget or access to start their own online store, there are plenty of e-commerce platforms to sell through like Etsy and eBay."     

The digital transformation, fueled by mobile and automation, has also fundamentally altered the way consumers pay for goods. Helfman says cashless payment options (think Visa Contactless Pay or Apple Pay) have become ubiquitous among large retailers, which puts pressure on small businesses to offer the same service: "Small stores have access to cashless payment opportunities through large finance companies and cannot be afraid to start looking into it. All the larger retailers have started to accept cashless payments, so the smaller shops will need to eventually make the move."

Trend #2: Increasing adaptation for Millennial consumers

By increasing their online activity and mobile-readiness, retailers will also become more attractive to one of the most significant consumer demographics: Millennials. In 2016, Millennials eclipsed Baby Boomers to become the largest living generation in the United States, and by 2020 they're expected to spend $1.4 trillion per year (which would account for around 30 percent of total retail sales). Millennials are just now entering their prime working years, and their share of the economy will only continue to increase in the near future.   

According to Helfman, the typical Millennial female is "using an average of 13 products on her face a day." This is why she says "traditional apparel retailers need to jump on that bandwagon and add beauty products to their lineup if they have not already." It's also why this year's WWDMAGIC launched GLAM, showcasing the fastest growing beauty brands (think nail polish, lip color, lashes) as Millennials see products as an extension of, or inspiration for, their fashion choices.     

Helfman explains that Millennials refuse to be confined to the big brands when it comes to beauty products: "With Millennials obsessed with makeup influencers and watching YouTube tutorials, it is all about indie beauty brands."      

This trend highlights two of the most important words for Millennial consumers: "choice" and "mobility." It's not necessarily that they're fickle, it's simply that they are accustomed to fluidly moving from one place, product, or person to another. Beyond just fashion choices, these priorities are reflected in the way Millennials work and live, from their willingness to change jobs more frequently than members of other generations to their widespread participation in the gig economy.

Trend #3: The growth of influencer marketing

Successful influencer marketing increases loyalty and exposure - vital assets for any business. While social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are particularly useful for fashion retailers (and businesses in any other design-oriented industry), when Helfman says "social content will push shoppers to the store," she isn't just talking about makeup tutorials on YouTube.

At the end of last year, Linqia released a survey of 181 marketers that found vast support for influencer marketing: 86 percent of respondents said they had used influencer marketing in 2017, and 92 percent described it as an effective strategy. Moreover, 39 percent of respondents said they planned to increase their budgets for influencer marketing in 2018.

The popularity of influencer marketing is surging because it has ability to break down barriers due to the relatability and seeming accessibility of the influencer. A 2017 study conducted by Collective Bias and Inmar found that "influencer content significantly outperformed control groups" on metrics ranging from return on advertising spending to foot traffic. For example, when researchers exposed a group of consumers to influencer content that promoted a retailer, almost 50 percent of them visited the store within four days versus 29 percent in the control group.                

These are all reasons why Helfman says businesses should work with local influencers to promote their shops - a process that can be streamlined and expanded online.     

"There's a good chance that 2018 fashion trends, which include the color lavender (check out Diff eyewear), checkered patterns (Moon River leads the way) and big florals (Line & Dot gets it right), weren't popularized by an A-list celebrity or Kate Middleton," she remarks. "Whether brands want to embrace it or not, you may be better off identifying an online personality or local market fashionista to push your sales."

If current fashion industry trends tell us anything on a larger scale, it's this: whether your a big business or a small one, consumers (particularly Millennials) are integrating their online and offline lives like never before; and they are seeking familiar, trusted and forward-thinking sources to illuminate them about the must-haves. Ultimately, we want to be part of the fashion process, not relegated to the sidelines; and we want to connect with brands and retailers throughout the entire experience.

Welcome to 2018.

How A Nobel Prize Poet Can Help Make Valentine’s Day a Time to Challenge Sexual Harassment

The good that came from this year of outing sexual harassment, taking it from dark corners, has been important. Here's a way to balance the bad and ugly and give some light to the beauty of sensuality, lest we forget. 

I stumbled, once again, on the poetry of Pablo Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1971. It made my heart soar. I hope it will do the same for you.

Whether straight, gay, or transgender this is a gift for you. Whether just starting to touch the meaning of love or moving into the twilight of life, this is for you.

The essence of sensuality and sexuality drive us all. Sometimes, with all the disappointment we have seen in so many of our leaders, we lose hope.

Yes, it's important to acknowledge the negative. 

We have pushed down the abuses for too long. Women and men of courage have come together to slay the demon of destructive entitlement. That's when people feel they can take without regard for anything but their own needs and desires.

However, if that is the only focus, it puts us all in a place of distrust and fear.

Pablo Neruda captures the sensuality and passion of love relationships.Take a break from logic and big data and read one of his poems to someone you love. Here's one of my favorite passages from his book, Love Poemswritten for his wife Matilde Urrutea de Neruda:

                                           And when you appear

                                                all the rivers sound

                                                in my body, bells

                                               shake the sky,

                                               and a hymn fills the world.

Let's not give up the fight for gender equity, for decency, for people showing regard for each other.

Often, the best way is by indirection. What I mean is, visual art, music, and poetry are healing forces in our world. Let's use them.

Imagine, what if enough of us imagine a kinder, gentler world. Who knows, maybe it can come to be.

                   

What are Dunkin Donuts, Budweiser, and McDonald’s all Changing About Their Brands?

When a global business like Dunkin Donuts, Budweiser, and McDonalds start making serious changes to their business practices, it’s a good idea to pay attention.

These three brands, known mostly for selling low-priced, unhealthy food and drink products around the globe, are making a step in the right direction and trying to go green. In this effort, McDonald's is on a mission to make its packaging and restaurants more eco-friendly, Dunkin Donuts has jumped on board the green train by halting the use Styrofoam cups, and Budweiser has committed to brewing all of its beer by renewable energy by 2025.

What do transitions like this say about the green movement? Going green is right for your business.

As an entrepreneur, you must continually evaluate your company and look for ways to cut costs. Fortunately, a number of these strategies can also be good for the environment. It’s a win-win, right?

The desire for achieving business efficiencies through green practices is higher than ever. Driven by sources like consumer and employee demand for socially responsible brands, the lowering cost of renewable energy, and the uncertainty around access to natural resources, going green is now is a worthy, and profitable strategy to follow.

Besides the three companies listed above, here are five other top companies that have integrated ingenious green strategies into their business.

  1. Target - Target has a variety of green practices in play, such as the production of an eco-clothing line that reduces the need for raw materials, lighting conservation plans to cut down energy usage at stores, and supports many different nonprofits focused on environmental sustainability.
  2. Toyota - As the world largest car manufacturer, Toyota took on the task of reducing carbon emissions and created the Prius. The Prius was a highly profitable release for Toyota and celebrated as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle.
  3. Wal-Mart - Wal-Mart has helped in the green movement by setting strict standards about only working with suppliers of products whose manufacturing, processing and distribution methods do not excessively contribute to carbon emissions.
  4. Dell - A large computer manufacturer, Dell has created an effective and efficient recycling program for their customers. The free program promotes more recycling and cuts down on e-waste.
  5. Google - Google has focused its green efforts on energy conservation, creating some of the most energy-efficient servers in the world. In support of green energy products, Google has also purchased and installed numerous windmills and solar panels.

Whether your business is big or small, implementing green policies into your business is a worthwhile objective. With some creative, outside the box thinking, you can increase your bottom line while also helping the environment.

Why Drone Delivery Isn’t Likely to Start Anytime Soon

How can delivery drones be used in big cities? There isn't any free space to drop the cargo. originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Tom Farrier, Former Director of Safety, Air Transport Association, on Quora:

How can delivery drones be used in big cities? There isn't any free space to drop the cargo.

Good question. It goes even deeper than you might think.

Drone delivery proposals are just one strategy aimed at addressing a larger business challenge generally referred to as the "last mile" problem. Why is the last mile so inefficient? offers a brief, non-drone-related explanation of this issue.

In a related article (9 trends in last-mile delivery), drone delivery is mentioned as a potential game-changer. However, it acknowledges one current challenge to all such possibilities: "The robot needs human accompaniment in case it has a problem." To me, that is a major issue that the sexy pitches for drone deliveries really tend to gloss over quite a bit.

"Delivery" implies that the aircraft will have to land somewhere or get low enough to drop an item without damage. That is likely to put it uncomfortably close to people who can be injured, or obstacles that can be damaged or cause damage to the unmanned aircraft itself. Those are sources of both safety and business risk that will have to be solved.

The economics of making such activity cost-effective pretty much demands multiple drones in the air at once under a single person's control. A single delivery truck can drop off dozens of packages in a single run; the only way drones can match that is for them to be almost entirely self-guiding (autonomous), except perhaps at the very moment the delivery is taking place. However, even if a single pilot can supervise multiple aircraft and service each in turn for drop-offs, they all still would have to find their way to their delivery destination, and then home again. Right now, drones don't have the technical means of doing that without being at risk of running into other aircraft or things sticking up from the ground.

Drones also can't necessarily stay electronically connected to their pilots in congested, built-up areas over significant distances without expensive satellite connectivity. The proponents of delivery services don't want to pay for that -- it would make the proposition ruinously expensive over just using a truck -- so they are exercising significant pressure on regulators (and legislators) to tell everyone else to stay out of their way so they can go make money with less liability and the ability to rely on autonomous aircraft that don't need a human operator at all.

Say they get their way and the regulators get arm-twisted into allowing drone deliveries and similar activities at the expense of others. Some of the advocates for various commercial uses of drones are trying to walk a razor-thin wire, and I think it's going to cut them sooner or later. In the U.S., the principle of "preemption" (The Supremacy Clause and the Doctrine of Preemption - FindLaw) allows them to say that they are operating under the FAA's authority to regulate aviation operations. After all, people can't sue anybody for flying an airliner 30,000 feet above their house. If a lower-level jurisdiction tries to ban drones flying within their city limits, as the linked article notes, "a federal court may require a state to stop certain behavior it believes interferes with, or is in conflict with, federal law."

Now, say the operator wants to provide a service that is beneficial to those members of the community who want their sub sandwiches delivered fresh and hot, but annoys others who just want to get some sleep or don't want to have to worry about their kids getting struck by a drone in flight. I can forsee such cases becoming common, every one of which could devolve into a vicious fight over the primacy of federal aviation regulations versus the rights of citizens in their own homes.

A canary of this type already has died. (Singer v. City of Newton-(Case Declaring Local Drone Law Illegal) I consider this an example of judicial overreach compounded by dumb legislation. However, the bald fact of the matter is that, in 2012, the Congress of the United States explicitly barred the FAA from making "any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft." (P.L. 112-95, Section 336) There are a few special-interest qualifiers and weasel-words that follow this passage, but they're essentially meaningless in actual practice. There's too much room for misbehavior, and that latitude is going to mean that people who want to make money probably won't have too much to worry about with respect to becoming public nuisances unless and until Congress reverses itself.

Based on this bad law, courts are now saying that preemption applies to aviation matters, so federal authority trumps that of the states; then they say that, since Congress said the regulator responsible for aviation matters -- the FAA -- may not make rules about model aircraft, they can pretty much do as they please and not be subject to registration, local ordinances or anything else needed for accountability or safety. Since you can't tell drones in flight apart based on the intent of the operator -- a business operator versus a "hobbyist" -- all drones are going to start being viewed the same way by the public.

Getting away from grand strategy issues, let's narrow the focus a bit. The question alludes to urban congestion for the deliveries themselves and that point is well taken. Using drones only to fly to central pick-up points -- say, your local post office -- would just be side-stepping the "last mile" problem. People want their pizzas delivered to their front door or their impulse buys plunked in their back yard, and the advocates for drone uses in such applications know that. Regardless of their "The Future Is Now" concepts, the long and the short of it is that, to me at least, drone deliveries to individual customers -- especially in urban areas -- are likely to be about as practical as flying cars, which similarly have been touted as the Next Big Thing in personal transportation literally for generations.

Delivery drones do make sense in niche applications where "last mile" concerns can be outweighed by virtue of the distance to be covered or the value of the cargo. There are highly worthwhile tests being flown using drones in other parts of the world to deliver medical supplies or other badly needed emergency items to isolated locations; it's easy to see how beneficial such a capability would be in the wake of a natural disaster as well.

Still, clouds of drones bringing Stretch Armstrong collectibles from eBay to eager purchasers strikes me as a lot harder sell from both a regulatory and an economic perspective. The various sources of risk they might entail that have to be accounted for in the overall calculus of the delivery services themselves are non-trivial and complex. As a result, if customers aren't willing to pay a serious premium for high-speed drone delivery, the business model seems likely to fail.

There are companies that have built or are building scores of central warehouse/distribution points all over the U.S. They use trucks or vans to take purchases to their customers... for the "last mile," if you will. Since many of those facilities are in or adjacent to major metropolitan areas, surface transportation can do a pretty good job of satisfying consumer "I want it NOW" cravings within a few hours of an order being placed.

All of the above observations make me ask, "What's the real value of even having a drone that can do the same thing as a truck if it's going to cost more to do it, or anger the people affected by drone operations but are told they can't do anything about them?" Honestly, the "last mile" factor suggests that drones may never be cost-effective. They make for great advertising on the basis of any given company's commitment to the New and the Best and the Fastest. However, I personally believe that any brand that becomes interwoven with drone use is going to suffer brand harm every time somebody is hurt by one, or the noise from them becomes a source of community ire, or a drone is stolen by somebody with a big net.

Set aside the rhetoric, the promises of huge job growth and the pandering to public demands for instant gratification. Big-city use of delivery drones strikes me as a losing proposition. If would-be providers of such services can't address all of the elements of the "last mile" problem satisfactorily with drones, and are perceived as creating community problems that outweigh their stated benefits, all it seems like they'd be doing is trying to create a high-tech identity that would become impossible to distinguish from any other user (or abuser) of drones every time something went wrong. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

In the immortal words of Dennis Miller, "Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong."

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

If Democrats Want to Win the Midterms They Need This Tech

Obama had YouTube, Trump has Twitter, but the next political winners will need Messenger, and the democrats are already onboard to use it for the midterms.

According to Michael Sabat, former VP at the world's premier SMS platform, Mobile Commons, and CEO of the new Facebook Messenger platform called @Mssg ("at message"), Facebook Messenger is the ideal tool for progressive candidates, campaigns and organizations to connect with new supporters and get them registered to vote. "@Mssg powers automated conversations over Facebook Messenger, which collect the data that an organization needs to start the voter registration process," Sabat explains. "The automated conversation then hands the user over to Rock the Vote or whichever service the campaign users for voter registration."

Why is This a Big Deal?

In order to understand why this is a technological break through changing the way successful campaigns will be run in 2018, you have to understand the problem it solves. "Most people are accessing the internet and Facebook on their phone. If a campaign just links the support to a voter registration page, when the supporter lands on the page they see 20 different fields and they are likely to leave," Sabat explains. "However, if instead of arriving at a web form they are directed into a conversation where they can message their answers back one at a time, they are much more likely to provide the data asked for."

In other words, when asked to fill in a form, users often get overwhelmed - especially if there are lots of fields on a small device. But, when asked for just one field at a time in text (e.g "What is your email address?"), answering feels natural and easy.

For campaign managers, the difference in conversion rates are shocking. In one pilot @Mssg powered the campaign collected new supporter email addresses at half the cost of sending the user to a web form. By replacing web forms with conversational text, donor dollars stretch farther and yield much better results.

Facebook is promoting new features that make it easy for organizations to start Messenger conversations with supporters. The most substantial new tool is the Web Chat Plugin, which starts Messenger conversations from a website. "It's similar to Live Chat messaging - a popular trend in recent years - where an icon pops up on the bottom right of a webpage. When a visitor starts a conversation from the plugin, it's a direct connection to the organization's Facebook Page. Even if the user leaves the webpage (and they all do eventually) the organization can follow up with the user on their phone, in Facebook or wherever the user uses Messenger. With traditional Live Chat services, when the user leaves the page, they are gone for good," Sabat explains. 

Other Benefits

There is another important advantage @Mssg provides. Unlike a form that only saves data when completed and submitted, each answer that is sent in messenger is recorded in real time. If someone closes out the conversation or gets distracted, everything is saved. This makes prompting them to finish in the future much easier and builds a more complete data record. "With the conversation, the user has opened this channel of communication," Sabat notes. "The campaign can then follow up the next day to continue the conversation and registration process if needed. This makes a big difference."

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the Messenger conversation creates an opportunity for an election-day reminder. It's known as GOTV (Get Out The Vote) and sending reminders via email and messaging channels has shown to be one of the most cost effective things that a campaign can do on election day. With @Mssg and Facebook Messenger, a campaign can remind the user it iss election day. Furthermore, @Mssg can help the voter find their polling location and can follow up to confirm that the supporter actually voted.

Starting Small

Even relatively small campaigns can benefit from this new technology. @Mssg promotes the idea of Finding New Voters on New Channels. "Canvassing has it's place, but there is a great advantage to drive a supporter from a social media engagement into Messenger and turn that supporter into a registered voter," Sabat notes. His company offers voter registration and GOTV tools for under $1,000 to prove the effectiveness of the platform to new clients.

2018 will prove to be the most watched midterm election ever. Any campaign would be smart to check out @Mssg and Facebook Messenger to find new voters using this new and exciting channel.