WHATS MORE VALUABLE: INFORMATION ASSETS OR FINANCIAL ASSETS?
Well actually, both are a large percentage of a company's overall corporate wealth. In a recent AIIM meeting, top industry thought leaders came together to ponder the issue of why organizations do not handle their information assets as seriously as they handle their financial, physical, or human assets. The way an organization manages its information assets is what can set them far above and beyond others.
While involving the CFO in valuing your company's data may not seem like a top priority, doing so will better demonstrate your organization's overall corporate wealth to the board and investors. Even non-economic indicators of information value, quality, and performance can help IT organizations and business in managing and leveraging information. According to a presenter at the AIIM meeting, the average tangible assets of a corporation represented 83% of its actual value in 1975, however, today that number is just 20%. Organizations that are persistent on becoming information-centric, as well as those that have information-based business models, should make sure to audit the actual and potential value of their information assets.
While the meaning of information ultimately drives business processes and decisions, it is still a proxy, meaning that it is just a symbol of value. It is the increasingly efficient way in which we represent information that gives it its value. Therefore, it is both information's meaning and physical representation that combine to improve business process performance, decision making, and innovation.
Information can be directly monetized as a viable product itself. This will not only decrease storage costs and reduce risk of litigation, but it could prove to be a new source of revenue. The lumber industry used to discard wood shavings, but they have learned how valuable their byproduct is to other enterprises. Most enterprises own a lot of data that is more valuable to other organizations than it is to themselves. They can package unused data and test market leads for new buyers. As this practice continues to grow, we can predict a positive future for the information marketplace industry for commercial data assets.
For now, information assets cannot be formally recognized according to accounting standards, but in time that may change. Regardless, we believe it is a good practice for businesses to begin internally valuing their information assets so they can manage and wield them more effectively. Supplemental balance sheets that include information asset value can be an effective tool for planning, measuring and demonstrating information management maturity. They will also give CEO's a better overall picture of corporate value; give CFO's a tool for gauging investments and performance; and help CIO's to manage and help business units view information as a strategic asset.
Without accurate measurements of the difference between actual benefits generated from information assets versus their potential value, enterprises will have a difficult time trying to close the gap. Your organization will most likely pay more for inventory costs than what the economic value of the data is worth. Especially in this era of big data, the difference in benefits manifests in the budget line and represents a big opportunity to directly and indirectly improve financial assets.