Impact on Distribution Channels

Computing, binary code, and calculating have been with us since the 1930’s. And as devices that needed data, the process of digitizing began as well. Weather data, stock trades, order and inventory, sales transactions, etc. The trio of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the most visible caretakers of this transformation – but there are databases of ever-growing size in every area of our worlds.

Most digitization has been of existing data, or data we would have recorded in another form one way or another. Media, sales records, stock transactions, inventory, medical records, weather patterns all preceeded digitization and would have marched on with or without the computer age. Just look to the constant stream of new data being added.

The benefits of digitization are numerous and for the most part obvious. Digital files are searchable, sharable, easily stored, faster to analyze, etc. This greatest impact of this has been to the distribution channels.

The most valuable asset for media companies was the channel of distributions – subscribers, airwaves, retail outlets, etc. Owning the prime TV and radio channels in a city, and having a subscriber base in the millions was success. Digital changed this and allows the content to be sent more directly – person to person – without these controlled channels.

As the control of the channels disappears, so do the profits.

Consider the USPS – they do not generate any content, they are strictly a delivery channel yet, the Janus Moment for the USPS came in 2001 when the zenith of First Class mail was reached.

The declining annual rates are threatening to put the post office out of business and at this pace, this 400+ year-old institution (the United States second largest employer) could be gone in our life times.

If your event or experience is nothing more than a channel for distribution, then your time may also be challenged. How are you bringing more value than just the distribution of content?

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