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Distribution networks and Education

"Once you change the method of distribution, the product has to change."

Right now, nearly all the products available for sale are defined by the distribution networks more than any other characteristics of their own. Once a product that can be widely distributed at low cost has been created, it is the marketer's job to convince the end customers that that product addresses their needs, either in part or in full. And quite often, the product does more than just address all the needs of the customers.

This is because distribution is the biggest hurdle for every company today. Designing products exactly the way that a customer wants is a piece of cake when compared to getting it from the manufacturing site to the customer's doorstep at a price he's willing to pay for it.

The Internet a few years ago, and now smartphone apps are revolutionizing many industries for precisely this reason. They are changing the way distribution works. And a host of new products and services are cropping up to make use of the capabilities offered by these new distribution networks. While some of the traditional products are turning obsolete.

All this is fairly common knowledge. But what got me thinking is the striking similarity this has with our education system.

If we think of all the companies and the research institutions as the end customers and the students as the products and the education system as the distribution network, we will see that those who manage to get a grip on the distribution network are the ones that have a good possibility of being hired by the more preferred companies. The actual qualities of the product (student) itself matter little at the time of purchase (hiring) if it is marketed by a recognised brand (a top ranked university).

Today, the people who have the ability to control their distribution network are the ones that are doing well. But this distribution network is bound to see a big change in the coming years (what with all the companies being unhappy with their new hires from even the top universities). So, instead of keeping their fingers crossed and hoping for the change to not occur until they have established themselves in the industry, students ought to take up the task of bringing about the change themselves. Then, they're guaranteed success.

While you think about how you can change the distribution network to your advantage, I will come back with my thoughts on the same at a later date.

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