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Knowledge as Asset

Businesses weren’t the first ones to equate knowledge with power, but they were probably among the first to capitalize on it. In Pearl Zhu’s Future of CIO blog, the concept of ‘knowledge as business asset’ is explored in detail. For what it’s worth, this could easily be a discussion about hard currency.

Mind on my Money…

How does one commodify knowledge? Let’s take a step back before things get too esoteric. Knowledge as a commodity is still a speculative concept, with Peter Drucker’s Management Challenges for the 21st Century among the texts that espouse this phenomenon. In reality, we still haven’t figured out how to put a price tag on something so variable, but that shouldn’t stop companies from applying the basic principle.

…Money on my Mind

Valuing a solid physical asset is one thing, knowledge is…well, kind of squishy and ethereal. But given the nature of today’s knowledge-rich business world, it pays to handle the fluffy stuff:

The key to ultimate business success today is intangible knowledge assets: intelligent people, smart data, agile processes and collaborative partners. This intangible asset and innovation capital drives the value, growth and performance of every organization today. However, information and knowledge is not managed or measured as well as it should or could be. Organizations should be able to put some measurable value on the information and knowledge assets because it is “vital” to the business.

When knowledge is viewed as an asset, the question becomes, “How do we employ knowledge management (KM) and information management (IM) to ensure that knowledge assets don’t slip through the organization’s fingers with each new employee departure?” Zhu locates three essential challenges of KM and IM:

  1. Knowledge cannot be isolated to a single resource or individual.
  2. Knowledge cannot always be “owned”, especially when it belongs to a particular person.
  3. Knowledge cannot be valued without considering its many interdependencies.

Since the management of knowledge as commodity is a treasure trove waiting to be unlocked, rest assured, someone or some group will eventually crack the code.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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