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Whither Value? Information is a Pain In The Asset

Ask anyone if their corporate information has business value, and the odds are high that the answer will be “yes.” Ask whether his or her organization treats that information as an asset, chances are a second “yes” will result, but it likely will be a whole lot less definitive.

(See my new guide Information as an Asset: 9 Essential Steps, which was published by AIIM International and was created to help in this regard.)

One reason this is so is that few people have taken the time to think about their information as being as central to their operations as their computers, chairs, bank accounts, and buildings, which are generally what come to mind when you solicit lists of corporate assets.

So let’s fix that now by taking a conceptual step backwards and exploring the question: what exactly is an asset?

•  According to the International Accounting Standards Board’s IFRS Framework, an asset is a “resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity.”

•  The Business Dictionary follows a similar course by defining the word “asset” as “something that an entity has acquired or purchased, and that has money value (its cost, book value, market value, or residual value)

Roll them together and let’s ask:

  • Is information controlled by the entity? Usually, even if that control isn’t centralized.
  • Is information something that has been acquired or purchased? Yes.
  • Are future economic benefits expected to flow to the entity? Yes: if not, why have you bothered to capture the information in the first place?
  • Does that information has money value associated with it? Now, THAT’s a good question!

Most people’s reflex response to this last point is to exclaim “of course it does!” But they are hard-pressed to explain in what form that money value exists, and how much it actually comes to.

Regular readers know we’ve danced around this issue for quite a long time, but conversations with existing clients and eventual clients over the summer have left me with the belief that it soon will join hardware/software ROI as one of the most important investment considerations on the table.

I’m eager to get your take on this, so please comment below, and/or send me an email, and/or take to the social media airwaves using the hashtag #infoasset and let’s figure it out together. And then on Sept. 26 at 1pm Eastern, join me, AIIM’s Bryant Duhon, Alfresco’s Laurence Hart, and consultant/PHIGster Chris Walker in a Twitter infochat on the subject.

Thanks for reading, and keep those cards and letters coming!

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