Strategic Management of Intangible Assets To Create Sustainable Competitive Advantages

Michael D. Moberly   October 16, 2009

Management teams and boards are becoming (more) familiar with and achieving (greater) confidence in the strategic management and oversight of their company’s intangible assets.  This includes honing skills that lend themselves to identifying, unraveling, utilizing, positioning, bundling, and leveraging intangibles to enhance and extract value. 

In turn, these strategic skills can be executed in a manner to create competitive advantages, e.g.,  (a.) leverage them to enhance and sustain ‘incumbancy leads’, (b.) showcase them (internally, externally) as best practices for monitoring – safeguarding asset integrity and value and (c.) apply them as petitions to improve and/or create (new, relevant, and more favorable) industry standards and/or state – local regulations, etc. 

However, the ability to execute, sustain, and/or advance these (and other) competitive advantages is largely dependant on the foresight and willingness of management team’s and boards’ to ensure that intangible assets remain routine action items on their respective managerial – oversight agenda’s, for example, the necessity to produce:

1. on-going assessments of a company’s intangible assets relative to (a.) their control, use, ownership, and value, and (b.) their status, stability, fragility, sustainability, and contributory roles and value.

2. strategic (forward looking) assessments to project what intangible assets should be acquired, cultivated, and/or nurtured as preludes to creating and underpinning competitive advantages that reflect a company’s over-the-horizon (a.) strategic planning, (b.) product – service trajectories, (c) industry and sector forecasts, and (d.) consumer (supplier, vendor) expectations

Intangible assets left un-managed, un-recognized, under-utilized, or merely dormant will produce few, if any, (sustainable) competive advantages nor deliver any substantive or lasting value to a company.   ensuring the asset’s value isn’t eroding or being undermined by competitors or virtual adversaries. 

In strategically managing intangible assets, it’s important to recognize that they are consistently rising sources of value, revenue, and foundations for future wealth creation and sustainability in most companies.  It’s important therefore, that neither management team’s nor board’s characterize-consider intangible assets as being the exclusive province of accountants and legal counsel. 

Instead, all things intangible should be treated as strategic and collaborative (business) decisions many of which can be leveraged as offensive and/or defensive weapons to guide and advance a company.

(This post was adapted for application to intangible assets by Michael D. Moberly from the work of Markus Reitzig)


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