Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whiskey as a Network.

Choose any one product and explain how its production, distribution and consumption can be seen as a 'network'. Identify relevant nodes, ties and flows in this network. Pay attention to the role of ICT and indicate where technology might fit into the network.

Irish whiskey is becoming one of the fastest growing spirit categories in the industy, with sales increasing more than 60 percent in the past decade. The product is enjoying a revival worldwide, and in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller with each year, you will never find yourself far from an Irish pub. Whiskey is an essentail fixture of these Irish pubs, this product and Ireland and inseperable.

Whiskey could not be produced, distributed and consumed without being part of a bigger interconnected network, which is made up of nodes, ties and flows.

Irish whiskey has been in production since the 16th century, with the first major (and still open today) distillery Bushmills being founded in 1608. Even though there are only three Distilleries still active in Ireland, Bushmills, Midleton and Cooley, there is still a huge demand worldwide. Jameson ships out 2.3m case equivlants (case equivlants are 9 litres of spirits) every year. It has become not just a drink to celebrate St.Patricks day, but a drink for any occasion.

The headquarters for Bushmills and Midleton are in the Dublin headquarters of Irish Distillers, Cooleys distillery is ran from the distillery itself, as they are an independant factory.

The headquarters could be considered as the central node, all processes are controlled from here. This centre connects with the next level of nodes, these nodes are where the product is produced, packaged and distributed, for example, the Distilleries. The next level of nodes are the shops, pubs and any other places the product will be sold to, before being bought by the consumer.

For the whole process to be a success, all these nodes need to be connected so the product can pass from stage to stage. The connections between these nodes are known as ties.

The ties for whiskey to be produced, distributed and consumed would begin from the origins of the raw materials used to brew whiskey, which would be fermented grain mash, such as, barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat and maize. All ingredients for whiskey is grown and distributed to the distilleries from Irish land and Irish farmers, no ingredients need to be imported.
So there is a tie between the farmers and the Distilleries. The ties continue from the Distilleries to the location for sale.

The success of the product relies on advertising, through television advertisments, the radio, the internet and also, the representation of whiskey in movies have helped characterize whiskey as a cool, gentlemans drink. All these things create ties with customers worldwide. It is through the ties that information about whiskey reaches the customers. The information flows through the ties, allowing the customers to gain knowledge about the product.

Overall, the cycle of whiskey production begins in the fields of Ireland, the ingrediants are then sent to the Distilleries, the finished products are sent to the location of sale and then the money handed over by the customers is sent to the centre headquarters.

It is a web of interconnected nodes, ties and flows, that work together to produce and distribute the product.

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