Michael D. Moberly February 15, 2017 ‘A business intangible asset blog where attention span really matters’!
The manner-in-which companies – businesses, and their leadership, approach, prepare for, and ultimately respond to the potential for and/or the materialization of risk(s) to their IA’s, as one may expect, varies considerably. Practically speaking, I find the most significant variable is learning whether business leaders I have engaged even conceive of risk (exposure) in threshold or tolerance contexts. With little doubt, there is far more attention paid to the cost of premiums and total dollar limits to the occurrence of a specific adverse event. So, it becomes more of a matter of business-company leadership equating or assuming their threshold and/or tolerance for risk is reflected in the insurance plan and/or insurer in which they have struck a deal. However, truth-be-told, in a large percentage of conversations between insurers and insureds, the words ‘intangible assets’ seldom, if ever, are a distinct-separate aspect to such discussions.
Of course, there is a percentage of forward looking – thinking business leaders and management teams who recognize the absolute importance of anticipating and trying to mitigate IA-specific risk, which is what we are about here. After all, it is economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, competitive advantage, and reputation lie in – emerge directly from IA’s. Experience suggests however, that IA specific risk, if-when it is distinguished from other (general) types-categories of risk, many of which remain fixated on tangible-physical assets, is likely to be-a-reflection of and addressed relative to (subjectively) pre-determined (risk) thresholds and/or tolerances of insurers and underwriters. This conventional approach of course, is generally weighted toward the type and content of a company’s physical-tangible products and services vs. the contributions of intangibles.
It is after all, the manner-in-which the company’s IA’s are integrated and applied to those products and/or services that individually or collectively elevate their value, competitiveness, and revenue generation capacity. Ironically, it is those same intangible features and characteristics, i.e., inputs, which simultaneously find attractivity-appeal to global cadres of ultra-sophisticated economic and competitive advantage adversaries.
This leads to another facet of IA risk management which is emerging with consistent frequency and is a consequence of a management team’s felt obligation and/or necessity to ‘get to the market space first’ with their innovation, product, or service. In other words, the go fast, go hard, go global phenomenon is itself a driver of risk to IA’s. In these circumstances, risk is likely to materialize at a very rapid pace commensurate with the accelerated investment, innovation, and product development-launch cycles, etc., which are necessary to the race to be first. Therefore, IA risk is indeed relevant to the globally predatorial and ‘legacy free’ entities, operating at each stage of product-service development functions, which includes drawing economic-competitive advantage information from targeted-companies’ value, supply, and distribution chains, which…
• adversely affects the fragility, stability, and defensibility of
• renders IA’s more distinguishable and thus, their content, more vulnerable
to (specific, targeted) compromise, infringement, competitive advantage
undermining, and value dilution.
• creates more fertile ground for reputation risk(s) to materialize.
Still, another (third) facet of IA-specific risk management lies within company leadership who (mistakenly) assume IA’s constitute infinite resources which are readily and fully renewable, retrievable, recapturable should they be subject to compromise, infringement, or undermining, etc. Those holding such perspectives usually find fewer distinctions between IA’s and tangible assets, even, sometimes, espousing the former are mere extensions of the latter which presumably can be repaired, restored, and returned to productive – operational status in relatively brief periods of time following an adverse act or event. In this reality, IA’s exist primarily-variously in the form of intellectual, structural, and/or relationship capital and often are more fragile and diverse. Thus IA’s tend to be more challenging, costly, and time consuming to replicate, i.e., develop and exploit in a manner that is equally collaborative, competitive, and profitable as before.
For these reasons, I am suggesting, it would be prudent to characterize any one, or combination of the risk management issues cited above, not in contexts of if, rather, in context of when they will materialize and the specificity, depth, and/or breadth which the risk will manifest. Corollaries to these particular-characterizations of IA risk management is another aspect which I call ‘risk illiteracy’. I define ‘IA risk illiteracy’ as an absence of operational awareness-familiarity for the need of having, at the ready, rapid and effective mitigation – intervention measures specific to a company’s valuable and competitive advantage IA’s.
IA risks that do materialize will, in most instances, alter the parameters of a businesses’ tolerance, threshold, and literacy of risk, irrespective of a companies’ – businesses size, sector, maturity, and/or financial health.
To be sure, risks to IA’s, representing most all types and categories, are persistent and can materialize even in circumstances in which experienced and talented management teams are in the lead. Of course, a percentage of business leaders, whether they acknowledge it, or not, signal their thresholds and/or tolerances for risk to the IA’s under their (company’s) control, use, and ownership. Of late, this is especially relevant to IA risks that can materialize at ‘keystroke speed’ to adversely impact (product-service) value, revenue, competitive advantages, sustainability, and equity, ala reputation risks.
Ultimately, a company’s thresholds-tolerances for IA risk, which each presumably signals or establishes, should never be of the one-size-fits-all variety. That’s because, in large part, the materiality of IA’s can fluctuate, ala their fragility, defensibility, sustainability, and contributory values. Instead, company leadership and management teams are obliged to consider (assess – factor) IA risk management variables such as…
• speed of (risk) materialization and its expansion – embeddedness
throughout an enterprise.
• criticality of risks to all or specific parts/units of a company and its
products and services.
• a company’s current capabilities and speed which it can mitigate –
• a company’s overall resiliency, ala recuperative capabilities as a target
of a materialized risk vis-à-vis customers, clients, consumers, and
As such, business leadership and management teams are obliged to approach and engage IA risk mitigation and management as integral to structuring (engaging, undertaking, negotiating, and executing) any new business initiative, transaction, product-service rollout, R&D, etc.
Michael D. Moberly February 14, 2017 A business blog where attention span really matters!
Management teams’ who commence negotiating a business transaction based on a strategy which has been framed predominantly, if not solely, on the content of a (conventional) balance sheet and/or financial statement, which as noted here, are variously dismissive of – omit acknowledging contributory role, value, and competitive advantages produced by IA’s (intangible assets) will lead (unnecessarily) to impasses and/or ‘walk-aways’. Both rise in probability when either party enters a negotiation absent benefits of being operationally familiar with the IA’s that will inevitably be in play!
True, IA’s are seldom, if ever reported (accounted for) in conventional financial statements, balance sheets, or valuations. Such omissions (under or non-reporting of IA’s) are tolerated because accountants, auditors, valuators, tax, and legal sectors are obliged to interpret – report IA’s in accordance with the various standards-statutes set forth by relevant state-federal regulatory-oversight bodies, academic disciplines, and professional association certification. Operationally, these obligations, given their origins in statutes and standards, translate as predispositions to conceive- apply IA’s in quite narrow contexts, and perhaps worse, are likely to be characterized as mere conglomerations of undifferentiated goodwill. Please note, for the record, ‘goodwill’ is but one (single) type or category of IA.
Of course, those perspectives about IA’s stand apart from the broader – more expansive context for addressing – executing on IA’s espoused here which solidly originate in the economic fact – business reality that 80+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue, etc., lie in – emerge directly from IA’s. This economic fact should not go in-noticed or under-estimated, particularly when negotiating most any transactions’ value, competitive advantages, sector standing, and future performance.
Achieving operational familiarity with IA’s in advance, warrants attention here and now because anyone with responsibility for negotiating a business transaction, but commence it, absent familiarity with IA’s will surely find themselves, and whomever they represent, negotiating with an incomplete portrait of the other parties assets, how those assets will be (are) in play, and can influence (negotiation, transaction) outcomes, i.e., success, sustainability, and profitability, or failure. This oversight (neglect, dismissiveness) can also serve (unnecessarily) as entrees upon which (negotiation) confusion, distortions, unsubstantiated generalities, impasses, and walk-aways will undoubtedly occur.
So, in my judgment, business leadership and management teams that have achieved IA operational familiarity in advance of a transaction overture, i.e., they recognize the presence, contributory role, value, and competitive advantages produced by IA’s, will clearly have a strategic (lucrative, competitive) advantage. This is particularly apropos as growing percentages of industry, trade, and commerce, globally, originate from IA intensive and dependent businesses.
With respectful confidence, the clarity, differentiation, performance measuring, and valuing of IA’s advocated here and recognized as (transaction) negotiation requisites, will sure to lead to more lucrative, competitive, and sustainable (project, transaction) outcomes, whenever, however, or wherever IA’s, are in play.
On the other hand, when-if transaction negotiations, preliminary or otherwise, are undertaken absent leadership-management team acknowledgement for IA development, contributory value, competitive advantage, materiality, and risk, etc., will likely experience outcomes that produce substantially less value, revenue, competitiveness, and sustainability that projected and desired, which frequently translates as some level of failure and unnecessary squandering of resources with little or no return.
Prudent objectives for business leadership and transaction negotiation management teams are to…
• acquire sufficient operational familiarity with key (operational) IA’s of
their firm, but equally important, the firm(s) in which interest is being
• of course, learning how to do this objectively and distinguish
the relevant from the irrelevant are essential in terms of efficiency,
effectiveness, and framing strategy-tactics and values.
Respectfully, it’s worth noting again, if IA’s are omitted, dismissed, or otherwise deemed irrelevant to a (business transaction) negotiation in which IA’s and tangible-physical assets will be bought, sold, traded, etc., but subordinates the IA’s in play to convention and/or past practice, it’s likely outcomes will be measurably less lucrative, competitive, and sustainable, but carry higher risks, as they otherwise could.
On the other hand, correctly identifying IA’s in play, whether it is for strategic-tactical planning, decision making, and/or negotiations are not responsibilities relevant only to Fortune-ranked firms. Instead, IA’s play clear and important roles in small and medium-sized companies, businesses, and start-ups!
Michael D. Moberly February 13, 2017 A business blog about intangible assets where attention span really matters!
Business acumen acquired from – retained through personal experience permits most of us to ‘encode’ repetitive activities and processes (we engage in) as habits, which, in turn, allows us to free up ‘brain space’ to learn new things. This encoding process is referred to as habituation.
Habituation however, may not always translate – manifest as (business) improvements, new practices, or creating much needed efficiencies. Instead, in its extreme, ‘habituation’ that manifests as unquestioned adherence – attachment to perpetuating past practice and/or convention, without considering some may be variously obsolete, nearing irrelevance, or wholly uncompetitive, can, quite literally, push economic realities, ala IA’s, off ‘the proverbial table’ and strategic planning radar screens to be obstructions to business competitiveness, sustainability, and viable paths to creating value and (new, additional) sources of revenue.
When one recognizes how to differentiate habitual (sometimes trivial) details from those which are genuinely relevant, competitive, and value-revenue creating, ala IA-related, vs. merely continuing to approach-execute certain practices and/or processes because ‘we have always done it this way’ (with no intent-desire to change) is habituation, perhaps in its most extreme form.
There are many good and relevant reasons why we (our brains, personalities) are receptive to habituation. One is, if habituation were absent, proponents would argue we would likely be destined to consistently taking notice of and acting on relatively inconsequential minutia – details of work. Doing so would likely impede, if not limit our work effectiveness and efficiency. That’s because, presumably it would leave little time or inclination to notice or learn new things, i.e., change that could favorably affect the way we approach, engage, execute (our) work-job.
A relevant, all-be-it comedic example of this is (comedian) Jerry Seinfeld’s career which his followers recognize has largely been built on making light of the supercilious minutia of life behaviors and processes which most of us accept and comply with as mere unquestioned realities, i.e., this is the way someone decided it should be done, and it may never rise to a level that prompts us to question why!
Yes, it’s a generalization, but, many successful business persons, are often ‘wired’ to not just notice changes in habits, life expectations, and tolerance, and re-cast them in question contexts, i.e., ‘what could be’? For example, ask, what product-service could be developed, reconfigured, modified, etc., to ‘scratch an itch’ affecting significant and diverse percentages of populations, how much will it cost to produce and market, how quickly can it be brought to market, and what are the risks of doing so, and, if so, what, when, where, and how will they materialize?
These, so-called ‘wired’ individuals, often go multiple steps insofar as anticipating, seeking, embracing, and internalizing change, and how to translate same to develop, monetize, and commercialize discoveries, technologies, and products, embedded with IA’s, often, long before it materializes in a Jerry Seinfeld comedy sketch. Wired individuals are inclined to recognize-distinguish ‘benefits and beneficiaries’ in futuristic contexts vs. recognizing its existence and affects after the fact.
In one sense, this-is-why I frequently characterize my work, as strangely as this may appear to some, as consistently viewing business-company operability through an intangible asset lens. More specifically, during engagements, I respectfully examine actions and perspectives conveyed by business leadership and company management teams in the context of how, why, where, when, and circumstances in which (their) IA’s are used – leveraged (or, not) and how either impacts or contributes to a specific outcome favorably or unfavorably.
It’s not particularly challenging, I find, for business pundits to equate (critique) a company’s missteps or miscues subjectively as missed opportunities. On the other hand, it’s substantially more challenging to correctly define and collaboratively resolve challenges – risks related to business value, sources of revenue, competitive advantages, and reputation that originate – are embedded in non-physical (intangible) assets, which, irrespective of their contributory value, are seldom, if ever, mentioned.
So, when I am engaged with-by clients and companies about their IA’s, i.e., to facilitate-enable lucrative and competitive treatments-applications, I recognize, respectfully so, there have likely been multiple and various circumstances arise previously that singularly or collectively elevated awareness and importance of particular-IA’s. When this occurs, it allows those experiencing – achieving IA operational familiarity, substantially and operationally, better positioned to recognize-examine their IA circumstances to determine if such preludes were and remain present, i.e., determine-assess if, when, where, and how IA’s are being acknowledged and utilized effectively, lucratively, and competitively.
Why am I addressing this? It’s because forward looking-thinking business leaders and management teams are becoming more adept at recognizing – distinguishing processes, initiatives, risk, transactions, and challenges, etc., through IA lens, all-be-it often filtered through conventional sense of (tangible asset) physicality. In the pre-knowledge worker era, obviously previous-to recognizing IA’s contributory role and value to businesses and companies, it was largely assumed that innovation, transaction success, mitigating risks, and/or resolving challenges could be accomplished by simpler (physical) techniques, e.g., deciding which knobs needed adjusting, which screws needed tightening, or which moving parts needed lubrication, etc. In other words, physical methodologies were routinely attached to both the execution and resolution side.
Today, however, it’s a globally universal economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value (sources of revenue, competitive advantage, etc.) lie in – evolve directly from IA’s. A logical extension of this economic fact is that the value and/or pricing of a transaction is reflected in the IA’s in play. This has relevance on several levels, perhaps the most significant is the necessity for business leadership – management teams to recognize the intangible (invisible – non-physical) elements in value, competitiveness, and sustainability, etc., and address them accordingly. (The above was substantially modified by Michael D. Moberly from Tony Fadel’s, March 2015, TEDTalk titled ‘The first secret of design, is noticing’.)
Michael D. Moberly February 11, 2017 A business blog where attention span really matters!
Integral to business operability, and certainly as a prelude to undertaking – engaging in any new initiative or transaction wherein IA’s are ‘in play’, i.e., bought, sold, acquired, or traded, etc., leadership and management teams are obliged to know, with sufficient specificity, how to distinguish, measure, and monitor…
• what IA’s are, their rightful owner-originator, and which IA’s are in play.
• IA’s contributory role to value, revenue, competitive advantages, and asset commercialization opportunities.
• IA value and performance throughout their respective life, value, materiality, and functionality cycles.
• and, identify and mitigate IA risks in both pre, and post (transaction) contexts, particularly risks which, if materialized, would undermine – erode asset value, a project’s momentum, and most, if not all, competitive advantages.
Today, with ‘keystroke capability’, businesses can rapidly engage in global competition and enter new markets, each variously enabled by at will access to ‘always on’ worldwide (intermodal) supply and distribution channels ala air freight carriers, containerized ocean-rail shipping, and e-commerce.
These comparatively new, but, very integral enablers – components to global trade are consistently tweaking their ‘logistics’ through inputs of intellectual, relationship, and structural capital, ala IA’s, to create more efficiency, speed, capacity, and on-time delivery. Such capabilities permit mature, new, and emerging businesses alike, regardless of size, sector, location, product, or volume, to distribute their products and services whenever and wherever markets exist, or are emerging, and do so rapidly and absent the burdensome expense and time to independently configure conventional supply-distribution channels.
The at will availability-access to these now ‘infrastructured’ intermodal services represent factors that further influence business leadership to look – think more forwardly, e.g., consider where, when, how, and which type-category of IA (ala, collaborations of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, etc.) should be introduced to produce the most effective, competitive, and profitable outcomes.
A parallel aspect to these ‘infrastructered’ intermodal assets, is recognizing the necessity to consistently invest in developing, acquiring, and integrating nuanced-specific IA’s to accommodate continuous improvement, create efficiencies, sustain-build competitive advantages, increase-stabilize company-IA value, and utilized-exploited to develop new-additional sources of revenue.
An especially important capability, of course, is being able to determine their (IA’s) impact on – relationship to company-shareholder value. This value, in my judgement, and that of others, should no longer be limited by either the content or how conventional balance sheets and financial statements are framed. Instead, company (business) value should convey whether-or-not, i.e., a measure of how well, a company develops, safeguards, uses, and exploits IA’s under its control, e.g., as coordinated spring boards, building blocks, and/or paths to elevating (asset) value, revenue, competitive advantages, and wealth creation potential.
It is indeed an understatement, to assume business operability today is enmeshed in anything less than a ‘sea change’ as its operational interface with IA’s rise routinely. The IA phenomenon is, what I refer to, euphemistically, as an ‘inevitable unknown’. By that, I mean, there were numerous indicators appearing within and throughout companies and businesses, often, in advance of the publication of respected studies which surfaced IA’s actual (contributory) role and value, had more attention been paid.
So, another upshot to this total economic shift to IA’s is business leadership directing – allocating proportionately fewer resources to company’s physical-tangible assets and more resources to IA’s in play, i.e., their development, monetization, and exploitation of (their) competitive-creative capital.
For all the forward-looking insights that surfaced through the Brookings Institution’s ‘Intangibles Project’ and complimentary research conducted in the EU, there is no indication these projects were undertaken solely or even primarily, to influence revisions to conventional (IA) reporting, accounting, taxing, or the standards, statues, and regulations the relevant professions are obliged to uphold. But, to be sure, notions to that affect have occurred.
Michael D. Moberly February, 10, 2017 A business blog where attention span really matters!
Indeed, country economies have rapidly entered and connected to an era irreversibly intertwined, at all levels and functions, in which IA’s (intangible assets) are the overwhelmingly dominant ‘players and actors’ as sources of revenue, value, competitive advantage, and sustainability, all of which I believe, we are in the early stages.
This translates as most companies and businesses, irrespective of sector, are, whether recognized or not, have shifted economically away from reliance on – applications of tangible-physical assets to being irreversibly attached to – dominated by intangible – non-physical assets. In other words, the IA era which influenced growing percentages of business – company leadership and management teams to engage their IA’s (functionally, operationally, competitively, and monetarily), some for the first time, is now indeed, for many, a permanent component to c-suite agenda’s.
That is not to suggest dependence – reliance on (conventional) tangible – physical assets has been completely eliminated to the point of absence. Instead, it means business leadership are variously (fiduciarily) obliged to recognize that business competitiveness, value, and revenue generation, etc., require IA inputs to achieve desired outcomes.
Starting in the mid-to-late 1990’s, I had the good fortune, and perhaps good sense, while faculty engaged in security-asset protection studies at Southern Illinois University, to read-study early products (chapters) of a multi-year project undertaken by The Brookings Institution titled ‘Understanding Intangible Sources of Value’. The principle investigators-authors of the project, several of whom I engaged at the time in discussion for clarity and insight, were a strong troupe of forward looking-thinking professionals. Most, to my recollection, were not exclusively schooled in economics per se, but never-the-less, experienced and respected practitioners who clearly understood the impending prominence – dependence on IA’s. For me, that Brookings’ project remains a very insightful treatise, certainly equal to the fine work on IA’s developed-produced at prominent institutions in the UK and Sweden.
To be sure, IA’s, still prompts some debate in certain quarters, debate that is less about the existence and presence of IA’s, and their contributory role and value they consistently play in business operability, innovation, and transactions, etc., and more about how to report IA’s relative to convention and profession specific standards, practices, and statutes.
Arguably, the IA ‘sea change’ for business, grew out of various consternations that conventional financial statements and balance sheets largely dominated by ‘tangible assets’ and to the exclusion or, at the very least, minimization of IA’s. Among the key arguments of IA proponents, aspects of which remain today, is that continued adherence to conventional asset reporting and accounting, (that essentially excludes IA’s) is insufficient, insofar as painting a complete and accurate portrait of a company’s financial wealth, health, potential, and competitive standing. This argument is all-the-more-relevant now, given the economic fact that substantial percentages (80+%) of most company’s value, revenue, and competitive advantage derived directly from IA’s.
Michael D. Moberly January 2, 2017 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!
Let’s be clear, IA’s (intangible assets) are thoroughly and irreversibly embedded in business operability as enablers and sources of value, revenue, and competitive advantage which manifest as variations-collaborations of intellectual, relationship, and/or structural capital.
One perspective I hear voiced about IA’s with some frequency in routine encounters with company-business leadership and management teams is their over-dramatization of a perception that the introduction of IA’s to company operability requires substantial company-wide adjustments as preludes to execution. Too, their perceptions are often conveyed with a sense of enormity, i.e., execution will entail significant outlays of time, resources, and managerial, operational, and even cultural change before returns may be realized. Such perceptions, unfortunate as they are, will likely persist as long as business leadership and management teams approach ‘change’ to convention, past practice, or company culture, ala executing on their IA’s, through the traditional lens of (a.) how long will it take, (b.) how much will it cost, or worse, (c.) assuming their company neither produces nor possesses any IA’s that produce value, enable new sources of revenue or competitive advantage.
Aside from fiduciary responsibilities conveyed in Stone v. Ritter, which directed attention to the stewardship, oversight, and management of company’s IA’s, business leaders and management teams may act as dismissively as they wish with respect to whether they engage their IA’s or not!
My experiences suggest that when company leadership exhibits hesitancy and/or reluctance to engage their IA’s, outcomes can vary. Yes, one is, their company may eventually ‘muddle through’. But, when they are inevitably influenced-prompted by logic and competitiveness to engage their IA’s, such actions often manifest in crisis and/or urgency contexts.
Proceeding with IA execution, absent sufficient operational familiarity with IA’s will likely surface numerous disenchanting missteps, miscues, frustration, and minimal patience which influences an initial focus on near-term outcomes. Such circumstances, in turn, minimize confidence in going forward, i.e., IA conversion to sources of revenue, value, and competitive advantage, in strategic contexts. Quality and thorough IA operational familiarity remains the most important step off point for execution.
It is true, some company leadership and management teams believe they can still run from their IA’s. But, many more are finding it increasingly challenging to continue to hide from (ignore, dismiss) their IA’s! After all, it is a globally universal economic fact that 80+% of most companies value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for future wealth creation, competitiveness, sustainability, and profitability today, lie in – derive directly from IA’s. No hiding or running from this, unless, that is, failure is an option!
Growing numbers of us are employed in sector-specific organizations in which growing percentages of company’s which are IA intensive and dependent. More specifically, the contributory value many of us make to our employer – company (as employees, individuals, professionals) manifest as forms-variants of intellectual, relationship, competitive, collaborative, creative, and/or structural capital, ala IA’s. Of course, I am not suggesting people-employees are mere collections of exploitable IA’s, indeed, we are much more than that. In comparison, it is reasonable to consider that many of the (personal, professional) returns one receives from their education, employment, skill sets, family, leisure, etc., are genuinely intangible. Individually – collectively each serve as potential pathways to (personal) satisfaction, fulfillment, sense of dignity, and self-worth, etc., not terribly unlike a businesses very valuable reputation, brand, image, and goodwill, etc.
In business management and organizational behavior contexts, acquiring-possessing attributes such as these and having them manifest through work (product) should come as no surprise! Shouldn’t the same be applied to company-business operation?
Through my lens as an IA strategist, risk specialist, and trainer, for every transaction, operation, or initiative a business or company undertakes and/or engages, there are (fiduciary) responsibilities to maximize, extract, and safeguard as much value and competitive advantage as possible from the IA’s in play! This is important because it is an undisputed, irreversible, and globally universal economic fact that, for an overwhelming percentage of companies today, 80+% of their value, sources of revenue, and pathways for sustainable growth, wealth creation, competitiveness, and reputation, lie in – draw directly from collaborations of, usually existing-internal IA’s.
In other words, growing percentages of businesses-companies, irrespective of sector, size, revenue, or maturation, are now IA intensive and dependent. This means IA’s are integral to company operability and sustainability. For example, intellectual, structural, and relationship capital as types-categories of IA’s, can manifest as operation and/or transaction specific knowhow and efficiencies, which should generally be considered proprietary. As such, IA’s are now far more than mere tools to manage other (usually tangible-physical) assets. Instead, IA’s can be standalone or collaborative commodities with varying cycles of contributory value, functionality, materiality, and risk attached. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from the work by Anne Wells Branscomb.)
Michael D. Moberly December 31, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!
The methodology I developed to assess the contributory role and value of IA’s (intangible assets) is designed to influence – guide clients toward recognizing how-ways in which IA’s underwrite their company’s-businesses value, serve as starting points for generating revenue, competitiveness, and future wealth creation. This methodology commences by identifying-examining, among other things…
- centers or clusters of standalone, under-utilized, under-valued, or under-performing IA’s.
- how or whether key IA’s are (collaboratively) effectively interwoven to favorably influence a particular project, initiative, or transaction.
- how the IA’s collectively – collaboratively contribute to a company’s overall IA intensity and dependency.
- the compatibility of its IA’s with the company’s mission (statement), strategic planning, and its cultural – structural capital.
- the prevalence and speed which particular risks, threats, vulnerabilities, and liabilities manifest to adversely affect any-all IA’s in play.
- evidence of IA losses, compromises, materiality changes, and presence of current and/or horizontal risks.
- projected returns from its IA’s and contributions to the company’s competitive position within its market-sector.
- IA’s contributions to producing synergies, efficiencies for the company.
- how-ways which IA’s contribute to executing (new) market entry planning.
- evidence of IA’s contribution to enterprise wide (IA intelligent) company culture.
- how-ways which IA’s are incorporated into business continuity/contingency (organizational resilience) planning.
- life, value, functionality, and risk cycles of IA’s in play.
Regardless of the venue which clients-companies prefer for the delivery of IA advisory services, I consistently draw their attention to this ‘contributory value’ process. In large part, that’s because I believe this methodology reveals far more than conventional snap-shot-in-time portraits of IA assessment. IA’s contributory value is the asset’s assessed relationship, connection, collaboration with other IA’s within a company. After all, today, and for the foreseeable future, only 20+/-% of the stock price of S&P companies is explainable via conventional balance sheet – financial statement (book value).
The contributory value methodology framed above is executed with the view…
- that IA’s can exist as standalone or integrated clusters-bundles of intellectual, structural, relationship capital, and
- how those IA’s contribute to (current, future) projects, products, services, ventures, R&D, efficiencies, materiality, competitive advantages, and/or revenue streams, including foundations (or, building blocks) for company’s future wealth creation and sustainability.
The rationale for encouraging IA assessments – valuations be conducted using this ‘contributory value’ approach is to…
- provide business leadership with the frequently overlooked aspects about the integral role IA’s play in a company or transaction.
- develop descriptive paths (roadmaps) for company IA values, and materiality to be readily recognized, monitored, measured, safeguarded, and ultimately preserved, i.e., banked.
- provide business leadership with much needed and practical insight to optimize IA’s in timely (bottom line) relevance.
Michael D. Moberly December 30, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!
In the mid-to-late 1990’s, I had the good fortune and perhaps good sense, while faculty engaged in security-asset protection studies at Southern Illinois University, to read-study early products of a multi-year project undertaken by The Brookings Institution titled ‘Understanding Intangible Sources of Value’. This project was authored by a strong troupe of subject matter experts. In my judgment, ‘Understanding Intangibles’ remains a very insightful and illuminating treatise equal to the fine work on IA’s (intangible assets) developed-produced at prominent UK and Swedish institutions.
Then, as well as now, ‘Understanding Intangibles’ prompted debate and signaled change, away from tangible – physical assets to non-physical, intangible assets as the foundations to most company’s value and sources of revenue. In no small part, this change grew out of recognition that conventional financial statements and balance sheets, with their traditional reporting-accounting of tangible assets, to the exclusion of IA’s (intangible assets), no longer captured – painted an inclusive portrait of company’s actual financial wealth or health. That’s because growing percentages of companies globally, were engaging and benefitting from the ‘knowledge-technology era’ (which large segments of the world were immersed at the time). This era was largely spear-headed by the infinite depth, breadth, and range of IA’s, broadly categorized as being comprised of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital.
From the ‘knowledge-technology era’ emerged a shift to – dominance of IA’s, and perhaps, not so coincidentally, influenced further sophistication, influence, and growth of the…
- transformation of entire industry sectors, i.e., transportation, financial services, and telecommunications, etc., from regional and national, to global entities.
- development and integration of new technologies and companion (efficient) work processes.
- accessibility to globally coordinated and instantaneous (air, sea, land, and rail) supply and product-service distribution chains.
- the ability for new companies to enter markets – industry sectors and secure rapid returns and competitive advantages by the prudent investment, acquisition, development, and monetization of strategic IA’s.
- aggressive and predatorial market-sector entry tactics practiced on a global scale by ‘legacy free’ players and countries.
Collectively, these and other simultaneously occurring phenomenon intensified a global business investment and transaction environment, in which IA’s are consistently in play. Similarly and inevitably, certain parallel demands on companies would surface. That is, businesses seeking strategically sustainable tracts would be obliged to be continually engaged in innovation, ala IA’s, as one requisite to remaining relevant, competitive, and financially sound coupled with the necessity to develop and introduce new products, services, create efficiencies, and add-on’s through increasingly higher levels (quality) of IA inputs.
Of the numerous positive-lucrative outcomes to this phenomenon, one is that business innovation, competitiveness, value, revenue, profitability, and sustainability were being acknowledged by the forward looking-thinking business leaders as injecting and commoditizing targeted and relevant IA’s, particularly intellectual, structural, relationship, and creative capital at the right place, at the right time!
A second positive-lucrative outcome to this phenomenon was that IA’s were being universally recognized as primary conduits-foundations to business innovation, competitiveness, value-adds, and creating new sources of revenue. The realities, pressures, and intensity of global competition continued to pivot on IA’s. Spearheading companies that were already (effectively, efficiently, successfully) engaging their IA’s, as well as those businesses on strategic paths to do so, would, in all likelihood, remain operationally sustainable, competitive, and profitable.
Importantly, investments in the development and utilization of relevant and innovative IA’s would provide resonate clarity to the economic fact – business operation reality that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, sustainability, and future wealth creation were being fueled, almost exclusively, by business decisions rooted in enhanced awareness and appreciation for the contributory role and value of IA’s.
The prominent work of Baruch Lev (NYU, Stearn School of Economics) in the IA arena cannot be understated as being a consistent and forward looking-thinking contributor.
To be sure, his work continues to impact-influence the intangibles community which, in many respects, I believe, is encapsulated in his remark…’if intangibles are so risky, their benefits so difficult to measure and secure, and their liquidity (tradability) so low, how did they become the most valuable assets most companies possess’?
Michael D. Moberly December 29, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters’!
Business leaders and management teams are obliged, now, perhaps more than ever, to acknowledge the prudence of ‘banking’ (monitoring, preserving) the equity held within their company’s IA’s. That equity, ultimately manifests, aside from value and potential sources of revenue, etc., as reputation, image, goodwill, and relationship capital. Seldom, if ever, does IA ‘equity’ materialize very rapidly. Instead, it evolves over periods of time as consumers-customers-clients attach favorable and long term relationships with/to a particular product, service, or, in some instances, a specific employee, ala IA.
There are some companies and their management teams, of course, who, for a variety of reasons and rationales, have yet to distinguish or associate these attributes (assets), intangible as they are, as contributing to, or even being sources of value and revenue. Other business leaders, based on my experiences, remain dismissive of IA’s, particularly in the context of reputation and generating customer-client-consumer ‘equity’ that is capable of being saved or banked. Again, my engagement experiences coupled with volumes of client centered research bear out the perspective that business leadership who remain dismissive of their company’s IA’s and their ‘equity’ potential, will likely experience unnecessary challenges to profitably operate and compete in IA intensive and dependent environments, now common to the ‘go fast, go hard, go global’ space.
Another consequence to business leadership’s dismissive approach to the necessity for – practice of ‘banking’ IA equity, is that they will be hard pressed to develop a comprehensive portrait of their company’s real financial – competitive advantage health. In other words, the ‘portrait’ they will likely receive from conventional accounting will be incomplete at best, if it does not fully address-include IA’s. In addition, on the transaction side, if IA development, safeguards, value, competitiveness, and equity are not routine discussion and/or action items on c-suite agendas, this too will contribute to understating IA’s contributory role and value to business transactions, particularly (again) for IA intensive and dependent firms, which a growing percentage clearly are.
Collectively, these circumstances frequently elevate company-business propensity to the materialization of risk which can adversely affect companies in many different ways, one being reputation, e.g.,
• dilute value of the key IA’s, ala reputation, image, and goodwill which are routinely in play, and
• undermine anticipated-projected synergies and competitive advantages, by
• making key (in play) IA ‘s substantially more fragile and vulnerable to risk.
Each circumstance represents an example of where-when the respectful guidance and services of an experienced IA strategist and risk specialist can favorably intervene to reduce the probability, vulnerability, and criticality of adverse events-risks materializing.
Such risk circumstances highlight the over-arching premise that management teams, boards, and even stakeholders have (fiduciary level) obligations (ala Stone v. Ritter) to routinely and objectively ask; is this company effectively positioned to develop and sustain current skill sets and experience to…
• identify, unravel, assess, develop, bundle, utilize, and extract as much value and competitive advantage as
possible from its IA’s under its control.
• safeguard and monitor IA value and identify and mitigate risks which, if-when materialized, will
adversely affect assets’ contributory role – value, and sources of revenue.
It’s reasonable for business leadership to consider then, if these purposefully acquired skill sets are not be regularly practiced, little else may matter, because IA value, competitive advantages, sources of revenue, and IA’s underlying equity that’s in play, can very rapidly erode, be undermined, compromised, or worse, the asset’s value, and by extension, its equity, go to zero!
Michael D. Moberly December 28, 2016 ‘A business blog where attention span really matters!
As an IA (intangible asset) strategist, risk specialist, trainer, and speaker, it is my passion to guide companies and clients to recognize the business imperative to develop, assess, safeguard, and exploit their IA’s and convert them to sources of revenue, value, and competitive advantage!
As an IA strategist, the primary emphasis much of my work, on behalf of businesses and client’s, is its focus on ‘the revenue and competitive advantage side’. I find many companies and management teams invariably contend, some dismissively, others receptive to engaging the nuanced challenges and difficulties regarding their IA’s.
In the (IA) conversion processes, challenges may also emerge over control, use, ownership, and origination of particular IA’s. The materialization of either can impede not only the conversion process, but also, the projected and profitable execution of new initiatives or transactions when IA’s are in play, or possibly even provoke a party to, quite literally walk away. In today’s go fast, go hard, go global work (process) environments, unraveling and resolving business challenges or disputes about the utilization and value of IA’s warrant rapid and multi-faceted attention linked to strategic outlook and planning.
I am not suggesting all business challenges derive from misunderstandings or misgivings about IA’s, or, for that matter, adversely affect IA’s in play. However, accepting the universal economic fact that 80+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, sustainability, and future wealth creation today, lie in – derive directly from IA’s, it’s prudent to expect there will be more business challenges related to the manner-in-which key – in play IA’s are – can be developed, acquired, valued, monetized, safeguarded, and applied in every conceivable type of transaction.
Moreover, IA development, valuation, application, and safeguards are being realized-accepted as business operation norms, not to be cordoned off as the exclusive (do not touch) domains of legal counsel and/or accounting. This makes it all-the-more essential to have, at the ready, sufficient IA operational familiarity from which deliberate, lucrative, tactical, and competitive decisions will emerge rapidly, and at will. Collectively, IA operational familiarity will mitigate most potentialities for the materialization of risk, impediments, and/or adverse (uncompetitive, non-producing) outcomes to new initiatives or transactions.
Large percentages of business relationships and transactions today develop-advance on-the-basis-of ultra-valuable and competitive advantage IA’s being in play. As such, the stakes and outcomes are consistently high. It is here that I believe, respectful and genuinely collaborative IA strategists – specialists, as myself, are positioned to…
• provide counsel – guidance for identifying, unraveling, and assessing (IA dominated) circumstances, and
• develop lucrative-competitive strategies to benefit company’s and/or client’s, mitigate risks, and identify
opportunities for further exploitation of IA’s.
To be sure, paradigms, ala the globally universal (business) shift, wherein today, 80+% of most company’s value and sources of revenue arise from non-physical – intangible assets, and substantially less so from physical – tangible assets warrants, in my judgment, respectful training, ample proof of concept, examples of successful application, and indeed, leadership. Unless or until I am invited into a business or client mass to execute each, excuses by leadership to ignore or dismiss IA’s and their contributory role and value that’s rooted solely in convention or past practice, is indeed, short-sighted.
My sense of being professional, i.e., a consultant, risk specialist, trainer, and speaker regarding matters related to IA’s is…
• not founded solely on a conventional business model of maximizing numbers of engagements and calculating-differentiating costs and revenue.
• to serve as a learned venue to respectfully articulate and elevate businesses operational familiarity with their IA’s, which is being achieved through my 720+ long form posts at the ‘Business IP and Intangible Asset Blog’ I created in 2006, and the 70+ national and international presentations, seminars, and invited (small group) discussions.
• to avoid commencing any engagement by undemocratically assuming my experience, intellect, and work products exceeds or subordinates comparable qualities held by companies, firms, management teams, and clients.
• to emphasize – demonstrate IA development must strategically mesh with revenue generation, value creation, and competitive enhancement.
• to bring relevance and clarity to IA operability that is embedded with respectful guidance for applying IA’s strategically, profitably, and mitigate, as much as possible, the inevitable risks.