Measuring A Company’s Vital Signs, i.e., It’s Intangible Assets!

Michael D. Moberly     June 22, 2009

 ‘In The Dark: What Boards And Executives Don’t Know About The Health Of Their Businesses’ is the title given to a survey conducted by Deloitte and The Economist Intelligence Unit which produced three, somewhat conflicting, findings:

1. The survey’s first key finding is that company boards and senior management are recognizing the importance/necessity of monitoring (their company’s) non-financial performance indicators. The survey respondents identified four factors that drive them to monitor their company’s vital signs, (a.) increasing global competition, (b.) growing customer influence, (c.) greater awareness of risks to company reputation, and (d.) accelerating product innovation.  (Please note all four factors are intangible assets!)

2.  The survey’s second key finding is that despite the growing importance/necessity expressed by company boards and senior management to measure (their company’s) non-financial performance indicators – vital signs, many are struggling to do so because of (a.) the lack of sophisticated (sufficient) monitoring measures, and (b.) some doubts that they truly matter!

3.  The survey’s third key finding was that an overwhelming majority of the survey’s respondents (board members and senior management) described (a.) customer satisfaction, (b.) service quality, (c.) efficiency and effectivness of business processes, (d.) brand strength, (e.) innovation, and (f.) quality of relationships with external stakeholders as being essential drivers to their company’s success.  (Please note again, each of the six factors are intangible assets!)

Today, each of the survey’s key findings can be effectively addressed (mitigated) by elevating overall familiarity with intangible assets, particularly, company specific intangibles that have been developed, produced and/or acquired.  And, once greater clarity, relevance, and context for intangible assets is acheived, i.e., strategies for identifying, unraveling, sustaining, positioning, leveraging, and maximizing value, it will be become much clearer to boards and senior management:

– what type of (company specific) performance indicators need to be developed and executed in order to monitor those non-financial (company) vital signs, and

– the level of stewardship, oversight, and management necessary (of the intangibles) to effectively act on those performance indicators.


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