Competitive Intelligence storyboards are a means to summarize in one page (sometimes a large poster) all of the relevant information for a competitor, technology, or industry segment.

A Competitive Intelligence War room is an area set aside for use as an intelligence or knowledge center, as a demonstration room for reverse engineering purposes, or as a conference room for strategic planning meetings. Also referred to as an operations or situation room, it may contain a variety of intelligence or market-oriented displays; act as an internet/intranet/database/knowledge map center; be equipped as a library or a repository of information collections; allow easy and rapid access to recent research results. These rooms can be either virtual or physical. The advantage of the virtual room is it is more easily updated and access more easily controlled with today’s technology. The advantage of the physical room is it allows for large display areas that allow easy access to key planning and decision-making information.

War Room Layout

For physical war rooms suggestions include:
1. Access must be limited (physical – must have a security pass to enter room. Similar for virtual)
2. Members of the team with access to the war room generally include product managers, sales managers and one person from strategy plus the CI manager. Small teams with support from senior management are the best. They can work very quickly and effectively.
3. Competitors and one’s own products, marketing material etc. should be clearly displayed so that on entering the room (whether physical or virtual) we know why we are there! I have to say that a physical room has added benefits – touch, sight and taste is awfully powerful.
4. Multiple white and projection boards for brainstorming sessions. Personal productivity and bonding are enhanced when done in this environment.
5. Charts on the wall identifying the outcome of analysis relating to industry structure and each competitor. These are often referred to during brainstorming and planning sessions.
6. Charts of one’s own company’s planned activities i.e. new product introductions, specific campaigns, pricing etc. is clearly displayed with those anticipated by the competitors listed beneath.
7. Most War Rooms have operated effectively when you have duopoly or very few players in the industry. Once you have a fragmented market, war rooms far less successful as a competitive strategy process.
8. A common layout is a wall for Industry information (for example, Porter’s five forces information) for each line of business, a wall for Company information, and a wall for everything else. See the “War Room Layout” figure for one such room used for Corporate Strategic Business and Technology Planning. A square or round conference table is placed in the center of the room.
9. The war room may also be equipped with some means for communication, preferably videoconferencing, so that briefings and analytical sessions may be arranged without delay.

Physical War Rooms can be used in concert with the virtual world; and they are great for cross-functional corporate planning sessions for senior executives. Ideally, the planning team, with support from the line-of-business executives and the cross-functional teams from sales, marketing, finance, IT, etc., jointly build the competitive landscape. Then, in the final reviews of the corporate and line-of-business strategy sessions, the C-level executives would join in for the reviews and for scenario planning inside the room. The visual displays make sharing of background information and hypothesis testing quick and efficient.

One of the most essential items of the virtual room is a knowledge map (or contacts database), which must incorporate details of information sources and contact details. Some companies include directories and membership lists of related or useful organizations, a glossary of relevant terms and some means of controlling the vocabulary in whatever classification or indexing system is chosen. Collections of trade literature, competitor and market files, seminar and conference brochures, profiles of competitors and their senior people, and reverse engineering materials may profitably be included. Depending on the industry, some displays of up-to-date and critical information should be incorporated. The content is limited only be one’s imagination, but that content should be such that it be relevant and readily distributed.