The 4 Dots

Posted by Vishnu Vardhan Chikoti

Posted on 08-Aug-2018 18:28:06

As I have been analyzing couple of other industries by connecting different pieces in each of them and cross connecting where possible, I have visualized something that I have not done before. The visualization I had is put as an image in this post and it is just that everyone contributing to the industry fall into 4 main categories or the big dots as I started to refer. It is not a discovery but a view I didnt have before. There is another important group and these are the regulatory bodies but I refer to these as a danda (stick) than a dot, as the industry participants need to adhere to them J The exact interaction between the dots and who serves or needs whom varies across industries but I have shown what I can think of as a super set of possible interactions. Understanding each dot and possible interactions I think is the basic thing to do for everyone in the industry.

End Customer

End Customer is the one who gets the product/service sold to. He is the one with whom the majority of the money flow starts and passed on to the other dots each taking their own cut. Eg, for Retail or Media and Entertainment, they have the largest end customer base, just everyone. For Capital Markets, its the retail or institutional investors.

In the current times, the world is in a state where there is more supply than demand. The end customer is the king. Whoever he chooses gets his time and/or money - be it the amount of time he spends on a site or the amount he pays for a product/service. The rest of the 2 (or 3 in some cases) try to attract him and sell their product/service.

Though the end customer is a king with several options to choose from and several discounts to compare, I think the only place where this dot is losing is on their time. An example is that here are many timepass apps to install on phone or timepass websites and by the time he checks each of those, a chunk of free time is burnt out.

Also people end up doing some unnecessary shopping just because there is a discount !

Direct Selling Orgs

DSOs are those who sell their products/service to the end customers. For eg, for retail its the retail outlets or ecommerce sites, for M&E, its the multiplexes, emagazines (or even things like Magzter), for capital markets, its the brokers. The DSOs are startups and trying to take a slice of the cake or trying to disrupt existing DSOs or the DSOs are settled orgs and trying to stay competitive. Existing DSOs who change with changing trends will sustain.

Supporting Orgs

SOs are an interesting set and are usually more than the DSOs themselves. These may be the marketing firms, recruitment/sourcing partners, consulting firms, technology providers or other service providers. This dot exists to support the DSOs sell their products/service to the end customer. As the DSOs themselves become the customers to the SOs (except investors) and some SOs are customers to other SOs, there is a stiff competition within this dot too. The key point to note here is that the DSOs or SOs are customers for other SOs but are not start point in the money flow. DSOs only pay from what they get from the end customer or nowadays what they have raised from an investor. SOs have the same case where they get the money from the DSOs or from an investor.


Investors (or also called financiers) are an interesting set who invest in both DSOs and SOs. Its the Angels/VCs/Investment Banks I am referring to here. This set of orgs/individuals pump money into the industry anticipating profits. The success of this set depends on the success of whom they have invested in the 2 dots. Startups or decently succeeded new DSOs and SOs have this other side to attract in addition to the Customers. But as this group exists to support DSOs/SOs sell to their customers, I have not put an explicit dot and considered them as SOs.


This dot sits on the other side with visibility to only the DSOs/SOs in most of the industries and to the end customers in few cases. While the DSOs/SOs are busy building new products/services or enhancing their products/services to sell/retain their customers, the other side it is often and unfortunately gets ignored or underestimated is the importance of finding/attraction/retaining talent.

In terms of finding the talent, its not so easy to identify that candidate who properly fits into the role. There are too many resumes that come up in searches and hard to filter out the right person. And not all referrals fit to the role. Even once a potential candidate is found, there are now newer ways to look than just the traditional interview. More and more interviewers are looking at sample projects in things like GitHub, using online contests, etc.

From the other side, though they are talented people, it is not always easy for them to approach the organizations. Also, theoretical view of how many years a person has worked in a role gets considered before even looking at other important aspects like a persons learning abilities, response to challenging situations, ability to motivate others, etc

In terms of attraction or retention thereafter in the current era, it is no longer just the %age hike or work culture or innovative products, etc with which talented resources are lured but there is a new entry to the list which is primarily in the startups they either get a stake or anticipate it.

Both SOs and DSOs need to find newer ways to identify/onboard talent and retain thereafter. Also, newer ways to allow the talented folks approach them.

PS: Happy to receive any feedback on this. If you know of any other important dots that I have missed, please let me know :)

I originally posted this on LinkedIn Pulse in May 2016.

About the author

Vishnu Vardhan Chikoti is a co-author for the book "Hands-on Site Reliability Engineering". He is a technology leader with diverse experience in the areas of Application and Database design and development, Micro-services & Micro-frontends, DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering and Machine Learning.

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