It is important to know who your competitors are. Without clear vision of your competitors, how will you design strategies that make you different? I hear these answers frequently from executives and entrepreneurs who believe that they do not have competitors:
Our product is just so different.
Oh… they are not really competitors because they serve a different industry
Our stuff is so much better that they are not really competitors
The truth is, we all have competitors. And if you do not, then your products or services don't matter enough for anyone else to care to compete with you. No competitor means no real market for your stuff beyond the one or two customers who love you.
Let's reframe who our competitors are. They are the folks that go after the same dollar as you. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, showed that the iPad sold more units than the leading PC manufacturer's PC units. Some folks will say "But the iPad and PC are different." Yes they are, but they do go after the same dollar in your pocket. I know some PC and Mac users who mainly surf the internet and read email who have ditched their PCs and Macs for an iPad. While the iPad does not negate the need for a PC for all PC users, the adopt and switch wave is coming.
Lesson for us all: Ask yourself who is competing with you for the same dollar today and possibly tomorrow to identify your true competitors.