It's 3AM, Do You Know Where Your Intangible Assets Are?
Fo many years, public service announcements and newscasts on television began with the phrase, "It's 10pm, do you know where your children are?” In the decades of prosperity following World War II, as households increasingly were led by two-career marriages and children became more independent, this phrase became popularized as a way to take a pause at the end of the day, check on the kids, then tune into the news.
Just as our children embody the know-how, values and behaviors we invest in them throughout their upbringing, we invest in our companies in very much the same way. Our intangible assets embody our know-how, our corporate values and our competitive advantage; our business processes embody our corporate behaviors.
Our management training teaches us to focus on our tangible value, our hard assets on our balance sheets and our profit and loss on our balance sheets. ERP systems came to market just in time to help us measure these tangibles in countless ways, giving us up-to-the-minute dashboard views of our business and balanced scorecards for us to measure against pre-defined thresholds of success as defined by whomever. These systems have even allowed us to make our business processes repeatable, making us supposedly more efficient at doing what we’ve always done before.
Yet, while we continue to be more efficient and drive our costs down and our profit up, we may be losing sight of where our children are… the learned know-how that comes from our operations or the competitive advantage that may be slipping through our fingers as others pass us by.
In our September newsletter, we illustrate the emergence of distributed capitalism, where a global network of resources (including assets both tangible and intangible) is delivered to an increasingly individualized consumer. We highlight the need for a business infrastructure that accelerates the fluidity of these assets into, through and out of your company into the hands of these increasingly demanding customers. In order to make the fluidity of these assets work to achieve our desired business goals, we need to focus on the assets themselves and ask the following questions:
- What is the individualized co-created customer experience my end-user is trying to achieve? (unifying concept)
- What assets are needed to supply this experience? (It's important here to look at all aspects of the experience as a type of asset [e.g. Components, packaging, branding, business model, content, etc.])
- What assets do I possess? (could be a patent, a manufacturing process, a brand name, etc.)
- What assets are available to me from outside? (through licensing, co-development, acquisition or other means)
- What assets can be leveraged by others? (through out-licensing or other partnering activities)
- What is the process by which the unifying concept in #1 above will be realized through the execution of #2 – 5 above? (project milestones)
Each of these unifying concepts with its portfolio of assets represents an asset-centric business opportunity, one which delivers the greatest value in the shortest execution time to the end-user. An asset-centric business opportunity management system is an essential part of a collaborative business network infrastructure that is required for companies to succeed in today’s age of distributed capitalism.
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