Value of Business Information in the Knowledge Based Economy…

Michael D. Moberly   November 24, 2009

It’s probably safe to assume that the moment our earliest ancestors realized that (their) speech was capable of communicating ideas, rather than mere emotions, they likely began to exchange facts, judgments, and (their) observations.

Not surprisingly then, control of and access to information began to evolve as a tool of power with information ultimately being bought, sold, and/or bartered by those who not only recognized its value, but also, were able to communicate (articulate) it best.

Fast forward many thousands of years, and the frequently used adage ‘talk is cheap’ is an indicator of a more general, perhaps dismissive, attitude some company’s (management teams) hold regarding the value of (their) business’ information.  In Branscomb’s, ‘Who Owns Information? From Privacy to Public Access’, she offers some insights and misconceptions which ring true today, that is, we tend to:

1. consider information as having value only if, or when, some specific action can be taken as a result…

2. believe there is a relationship between the ‘classification’ of information (e.g., secret, sensitive, proprietary, etc.) and its value…

3. apply (use) information in ways that emphasize short-near term orientations versus strategic, long term application.

It’s important that management teams recognize (appreciate) that, in most instances, information can be and frequently is, a commodity warranting clearly defined rights of ownership linked to effective safeguards for sustaining its control, use, and monitoring its value (indeterminately).

Gross, Reischl, and Abercrombie, in the ‘The Idea Factory’ point out that today’s companies find themselves producing the product of knowledge which has become the primary economic driver of the knowledge-based economies.  Nearly all of the world’s most innovative, successful, and wealthy companies, they say, are those that wield their knowledge (information) effectively.

One obvious example which Gross, Reischl, and Abercrombie take special note of, is that a significant percentage of Wal-Mart’s market capitalization (perhaps 80+%) is not attributable to (conventional) book value, rather to its intellectual capital, i.e., the market’s valuation (assessment) of Wal-Mart’s ability to continue to use its intellectual capital (knowledge, information) assets to sustain and generate profits.

Wow, what a revelation…!

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