Information as an assset

In some business areas, concept of an asset is fairly well developed. From one perspective the key motivator is usage and maintenance of the assets, from the other side, there is the financial aspect – how accountants perceive the assets and how they depreciate over time. The financial aspect is a great motivator to keep the process clean, as usually it is regulated and affects the bottom line of the company. On the other hand, the usage and maintenance of the physical assets, is less structured but easily understandable. You can see it, you can touch it, if you don’t maintain it, it will stop working.

Financial assets in certain way are different – however their management process is well developed as it is primary vehicle for increasing of the revenues, and mostly is regulated. The same motivating factor of proper accounting plays significant role.

Information as an asset – is much more difficult concept to grasp, and often neglected. One of the reasons is that the accountants don’t know how to book it, so the underlying motivating factor as described above, is simply not there. The only time when organizations dig-in their heels with regards to information – is during contract negotiations when it comes to protection of intellectual property. Otherwise the information is allowed to float with little structure, little oversight, protection and management. However, the information is the asset and as the asset it has its own intrinsic value. That’s true, it is difficult to measure it, nevertheless organizations need to define information as the asset and integrate its lifecycle with their overall operational and financial processes. It becomes even more important, when the focus of the company shifts from delivery of physical goods to services.

The same stages of the asset life-cycle are valid with the information:

  • creation
  • storage and preservation
  • management
  • use
  • disposal

Information shares some of the attributes with the physical assets – for example – being time variant. As it ages, information’s value usually decreases, and this needs to be factored-in when developing information value estimation model.

The most important aspect however is that the information value is realized only when it is used. Information that cannot be found is worthless. That is why ability to search and find information is key element of information management. Technology is less important here, development of right taxonomy, classification, controlled vocabularies with ability to tag information at the point of creation – play key role here.

Therefore to be successful, organizations need to:

  • Define information life-cycle and its value
  • Integrate the information life-cycle with overall operational and financial processes of the organization
  • Define information architecture and keep it up to date

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