In recent board meetings, the question about competition popped up frequently. It is easy to succumb to identify only those that can or do build the same technical device or service you do.  But what most people seem to miss is the customer’s perspective: for a customer seeking a solution to a problem, the alternative company might be very different and might not even be technologically close to what you are doing.

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To make my point more clear, let me refer to an example. Let’s assume you want to get from Paris to Berlin. Basically you have 3 choices: car, train, and plane. They are all very different in both technology, price, and time needed to cover the distance. But they all solve the same problem for a person traveling: the get him from A to B. Hence the train is competing against the plane and the car for the same sort of passenger. There are of course some differences between the three customer groups (e.g. price sensitivity, availability of time) but after all, they do have a choice.

It is commonly referred to as customer pain.

I can not stress this point enough to not pay too much emphasis on your technological achievements but rather keep in mind what your customers think separates you from the pack. And while you might at first not think about your competition, it will become more and more of your focus the further you grow. Is that good? Well, I leave that for you to judge, but I rather suggest you have a look and try to learn than ignore and fail.