Don’t Overlook Valuable Intangible Assets Security Products Deliver

Michael D. Moberly     February 20, 2012

I am a firm believer that the introduction (presence) of security products, systems, and services in an environment produce – deliver intangible assets.  Security products and procedures are common to building-environment design and operation, e.g., access control, intrusion detection, and CCTV systems, etc.  Each produces sector-environment specific sets of intangible assets.  Seldom however do those intangibles get translated or leveraged as premiums or competitive advantages by the vendor, building designer, or security department.

In many instances, these ‘feel safe, feel good’ attributes manifest themselves as user expectations but are not incorporated in security ‘buy in’ presentations or return-on-security-investment (ROSI) equations because, as intangible assets, they’re frequently poorly understood and lack an effective narrative to describe their contributory value.

In today’s increasingly security conscious and (security) standards driven environment, those considering openly espousing (leveraging) the attributes of security systems and procedures should recognize:

  • legal counsel may caution such open/public displays because, by doing so, it may unduly  influence user expectations, thus when risks do materialize, a company may subject itself to elevated liability exposures.
  • intangibles lack physicality and thus are presumed to be too esoteric to promote as  competitive advantages to prospective clients and users as premiums.
  • intangible assets are routinely portrayed (reported) solely through accounting lens.
  • some security practitioners hold the belief that public announcements about the presence-use of security measures and/or systems undermine their deterrent factors and thus compromise the intended (designed) benefits.

While these perspectives are understandable and real, they’re also uniquely challenging to refute.  The result is, intangible attributes derived from security systems and products often go un-leveraged and ultimately dependent on individual user imagination to draw their own, albeit subjective ‘feel good, feel safe’ conclusions versus the value-added (risk management) premiums they are.

The economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, sustainability, and foundations for growth evolve directly from intangible assets casts these circumstances in a different light.

Traditionally the dominant sources of company value and revenue have flowed from tangible – physical assets, i.e., plants, real estate, equipment, and inventory, etc.  But, in today’s knowledge-based business (transaction) global economy the sources – origins of company value have shifted to intangible assets, i.e., intellectual property, proprietary know how, brand, reputation, image, and goodwill, etc.  (For a comprehensive list of intangible assets see 

The phrase knowledge-based economy of course is a business-economic reality and certainly not merely a cliché relevant to only large firms.   For building designers, security product vendors, and certainly users, this phrase should serve as useful insight into how user’s ‘feel good, feel safe, and feel secure’ expectations have evolved.

In my view, architectural design, vendor competition, and security ‘buy in’ presentations must include effective articulation of the relevance and value add – contributory value of security products, services, and procedures in the form of intangibles such as competitive advantage premiums which can be prudently exploited.  Security and asset protection products of course, can deliver a broad spectrum of measurable client and user (intangible) benefits beyond conventional subjective risk-threat mitigation. 

Building-environment design and security measures (products, systems, etc.) can converge. For example in a security product (vendor) presentation I recently witnessed, it was clear the product had multiple potential selling points and numerous venues where it could be applied. Unfortunately however, the products’ inventor either did not recognize or chose not to address in his presentation at all, the various and attractive ‘security intangibles’ his product could deliver.

Had this security product inventor – vendor had a narrative to characterize and strategically bundle the multi-dimensional outcomes, i.e., security intangibles, his product could also deliver its quite possible client receptivity would have been substantially elevated because their return-on-investment projections would have been more clear and much broader.


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