Safeguarding Intangible Assets!

Michael D. Moberly    January 23, 2013

1. Intangible asset safeguards, particularly those directed to intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, should include provisions for rapid maneuverability to (a.) reflect-address changes in asset value, risk, and vulnerability, and (b.) reflect the assets’ life and functionality cycle. Most information asset safeguards and risk mitigation initiatives tend to remain constant throughout the life, value, and functionality cycle of the specific asset(s) being protected and regardless of routine changes most of those assets’ will inevitably encounter, i.e., contributory value to current or future company projects as well as risk.

Exacerbating this today’s is the increasingly aggressive, competitive, and predatorial global business (transaction) environment, in which the value and relevance (useful life-value cycle) of intellectual, relationship, and structural assets routinely experience uniquely compressed time frames for utilization relative to their relationship and contribution to specific (new company) initiatives, tasks, processes, and operations.

It’s prudent then, for the design and implementation of information asset safeguards to incorporate the capability of being maneuverable, i.e., to increase or decrease the level of protection warranted to reflect fluctuations in, not only an assets’ value and relevance, but asset risks, threats, and vulnerabilities.

2. Avoid ‘pushing what should be done off the table’! Each day companies are presented with an array of risks, threats, and challenges which often get translated as being urgent and therefore opportunities (pressure) to push what should be done off the table. At least one consequence of pushing ‘what should be done’ off the management team (c-suite, boardroom) table (agenda) is that companies will direct disproportionate attention to the proverbial internal – external choruses, which offer, in my view, largely speculative, worst-case scenario, and/or snap-shots-in-time assessments of risks, threats, and vulnerabilities.

Due to potentially devastating (enterprise-wide) consequences which intangible asset risks, threats, and vulnerabilities can produce almost instantaneously, I strongly discourage companies from dismissing them, but, neither should they serve as subjective, ‘knee jerk’ rationales for indiscriminately implementing sweeping and costly (intangible asset) safeguards absent, at minimum, cursory research to ensure they’re neither subjective nor snap-shot-in-time anecdotes.

Instead, adopting forward looking and objective (intangible) asset safeguard strategies linked to an assets’ contributory value and its functionality cycle rather than narrowly focused, time-bound, and anecdotal assessments is the most effective, efficient, and prudent approach.

3. Foster relationships! Any initiative to safeguard a company’s intangible (intellectual, structural, relationship capital) assets must absolutely include capabilities to sustain (a.) control, (b.) use, (c.) ownership, and monitor (d.) value, (e.) materiality, (f.) sustainability, and (g.) risk.

To achieve the desired level of success, any such initiative must also include fostering collaborative (internal and stakeholder) relationships. This can occur by ensuring the assets’ originators, developers, users, and owners have been properly and effectively engaged at the outset, i.e., earliest stages of development and/or acquisition, as the impetus for literally assuming ‘ownership for success.

Unfortunately however, some company’s tend to be exclusion oriented and unreceptive to fostering collaborative relationships for their valuable intangible assets.  Occasionally, this evolves from the misperception that computer/IT system security equates with, or worse, eclipses intellectual capital (asset) safeguards which is often rooted in the misconception that all valuable (company) information exists solely in electronic ‘bits and bytes’ and is safely stored in stationary servers, back-up sites, or ‘clouds’.  Those who hold or cling to such perspectives seem to be oblivious to the economic fact – business reality that today, 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, sustainability and profitability evolve from – lie in intangible assets!

Make no mistake I’m certainly not suggesting computer/IT security is not absolutely critical to every company, particularly as target specific risks/threats are rapidly becoming much dreaded and a potentially devastating norm. That said, in my view, computer/IT security would be better understood as being complimenting to, rather than dominating, company strategies and initiatives to safeguard valuable and proprietary intellectual, relationship, and structural capial intangible assets.

My blog posts are researched and written by me with the genuine intent they serve as a worthy and respectful venue to elevate awareness and appreciation for intangible assets throughout the global business community.  Most of my posts focus on issues related to identifying, unraveling, and sustaining control, use, ownership, and monitoring asset value, materiality, and risk.  As such, my blog posts are not intended to be quick bites of information, unsubstantiated commentary, or single paragraphed platforms to reference other media. 

Comments regarding my blog posts are encouraged and respected. Should any reader elect to utilize all or a portion of any of my posts, attribution is expected and always appreciated. While visiting my blog readers are encouraged to browse other topics (posts) which may be relevant to their circumstance or business transaction.  I always welcome your inquiry at 314-440-3593 or [email protected].

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