Michael D. Moberly April 21, 2010
In my view, managing a company’s intellectual capital (IC), in its most simplistic form, consists of two key responsibilities:
1. Conducting/maintaining an inventory of a company’s IC.
2. Having the knowledge and skill sets to objectively assess and distinguish how much and what aspects of the IC inventory are:
a. In Use – and, determine if they can be used more effectively and profitably to add value to the company.
b. Not In Use – and, determine if they remain relevant and/or useful to the company in some manner (or, perhaps to other entities) vs. remaining as stagnant assets and costs.
Interestingly, Davis and Harrison (authors of ‘Edison in the Boardroom’) estimate that only 30% of many company’s entire IC portfolio may actually be in use, with the remaining 70% likely found in various (other) forms, e.g., intellectual property that has become obsolete, and/or products or services that are no longer in the company’s inventory. I would not advocate those estimates should be used to pre-judge the outcome of an IC inventory/audit because most companies have a variety of (IC) nuances that need to be investigated. But, the Davis and Harrison percentage estimates do catch one’s attention!
Let’s suggest for a moment that a company’s board and senior leadership would find it useful to resource an IC management (audit, use, inventory) team. I am reasonably confident, that agreement to create such a role would include a requisite that team members be business centered, strategic in their outlook, and possess a strong profit orientation. In other words, the team would be inclined to manage the company’s IC as genuine business assets.
Unfortunately, there remain far too many company management/leadership teams and boards who hold the mistaken perception that intellectual property registration is synonymous with IC management when in fact it is only through the managed exploitation of IP that value, revenue, and wealth can be generated.