Michael D. Moberly April 7, 2010
Intangible assets are (a.) largely knowledge (know how) based assets, (b.) form increasingly larger percentages of a company’s reservoir of intellectual capital, and (c.) key tools for differentiating a company from its competitors in a market space.
The findings of a 2006 ACCA Research Report (#93) titled ‘SME Intangible Assets’ identified eight individual categories of intangible assets in companies:
1. Customer Capital Intangible Assets: According the ACCA research there are three defining features of customer capital, i.e., (a.) the ways in which it evolves in the minds of existing and prospective buyers, (b.) the company is trusted, and (c.) the company’s products and services are appreciated.
2. Customer Relationship Intangible Assets: Represent the basis for (such things as) (a.) repeat customer sales that manifest as regular-assured sources of income, (b.) websites that provide easily navigated paths/routes for existing and prospective customers to generate enquiries, as well as (c.) a means to favorably influence existing and prospective customers thinking.
3. External Approval and Licensing Intangible Assets: Represents the means for companies to sustain exclusivity of the intangible assets they produce, particularly the value evolving from (a.) brand name, (b.) reputation and image, and (c.) high quality endorsements.
4. Proprietary Product and Service Intangible Assets: As management/leadership teams and boards assume stronger fiduciary positions relative to the management and oversight of intangible assets, there is a tendency for intangibles to be considered proprietary along with the underlying skills, know how, and relationships.
5. Technical and Process Knowledge Intangible Assets: Constitute special (proprietary) business processes, technologies, know how, and competencies that collectively contribute to companies (a.) extending the range of their competency, and (b.) consistently assess and make improvements.
6. Supplier and Input Relationship Intangible Assets: Serve as basis for differentiating companies and creating competitive advantages by providing special value-added services and privileges, i.e., access to relevant resources, and greater levels of supply chain security, etc.
7. People-Based Intangible Assets: Are employees’ collaborative demeanor, wherein their proprietary knowledge (know how and skill mixes) can be effectively incorporated to elevate value, revenue, sustainability, and growth potential while remaining difficult for competitors to replicate.
8. Learning and Growth As Intangible Assets: Represent learning and growth capabilities within a company in terms of making substantive contributions to a companies ability to strengthen existing (intangible) assets and consistentl create new ones.
(This post was inspired by and adapted from the work of Chris Martin and Julie Hartley from a 2006 ACCA Research Report titled ‘SME Intangible Assets’)