Assets (Knowledge Assets)
We are moving into a knowledge economy and it is now well accepted that the intellectual (knowledge/intangible) assets of most organizations constitute their main competitive weapon. Intellectual assets are based on the know-how of a company, its people, its culture, its management style, its relationship with its stakeholders, its brand, its marketing strategy, its customer loyalty, its business processes, and so on. Intellectual capital evaluation tools can be used to value such assets in order to include them in accounting balance sheets. Therefore, it is important for a company to know what it knows, as well as what it doesn’t know, in order to properly manage its intellectual assets. Different techniques such as knowledge engineering, social network analysis, expertise locators, and knowledge process mapping, can be used to see what is known and who knows what.
It is important to remember that the knowledge assets of a company vary constantly. A company will lose knowledge when an employee leaves the company (new job offer, retirement, accident etc.). If nothing has been previously done to identify what knowledge this person possessed and whether that knowledge has been previously shared, then there is the potential for critical knowledge to be lost from the organization. Intellectual assets can be increased by training employees, hiring new employees, hiring consultants, by partnering, or even by buying the required knowledge, if necessary! Strategically, it is critical for a company to know what knowledge it possesses, and based on its business strategy to define how these knowledge assets will have to evolve in order to meet its future needs in the short and long terms.