Intangible Assets Are Much More Than Goodwill…

Michael D. Moberly   December 3, 2009

Respectfully, its evident that in a significant percentage of conversations I have with business decision makers and management teams about ‘intangible assets’ they are quick to express (perpetuate) the conventional (singular, largely accountancy) view that intangibles merely constitute – reflect a company’s ‘goodwill’. 

In the increasingly global ‘knowledge-based’ economies wherein its an economic fact that 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, sustainability, competitive advantages, and foundations for future wealth creation lie in – are directly linked to intangible assets, perpetuating the notion that its all attributable to – comes under a single heading of ‘goodwill’ no longer captures (reflects) the depth, breadth, and/or contributions of a company’s intangible assets.  Unfortunately, for those company’s and management teams that cling to these conventional (narrow) views/perspectives about intangible assets, its unlikely they will be receptive to exploring the full range of intangible as noted below and their special relevance to their company.

Actually, Weston Anson (CONSOR) has organized intangible assets into recognizable categories, which I have taken the liberty of adapting and enumerating into fifteen primary categories, i.e., (1.) internally developed technologies, (2.) special advertising and marketing concepts, (3.) engineering designs and technical know how, (4.) proprietary issues related to customers and clients, (5.) competitor intelligence/research, (6.) real estate (certain property) rights, (7.) employee training, (8.) domain names, website design, etc., (9.) certain aspects of a company’s products and/or services, (10.) a company’s identity, reputation, image, (11.) special competitive aspects of contracts and agreements, (12.) intellectual property, (13.) R&D, (14.) particular competitive advantages within the HR arena, and (15.) the company’s collective intellectual capital.  (Please note each category has numerous subsets and/or sub-categories.)

In today’s global business context, intangible assets:

1. are the economic benefits anchored in a company’s intellectual capital and the distinctive features, processes, procedures, and/or programs evolving from that intellectual capital.

2. is the understanding how to effectively apply that know how to deliver competitive advantages and create value for the company.

Few would argue, if/when a company’s intangibles are overlooked, dismissed, or neglected, it amounts to much more than merely missing a single opportunity! 

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