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Knowledge Assets: Can you measure the intangible?. Mary Adams Trek Consulting LLC KM Forum, July 20, 2006. Measuring Knowledge Assets. Why? What? How? Case studies. The need to measure knowledge assets is acute. Data: Ned Davis Research, Inc.

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knowledge assets can you measure the intangible

Knowledge Assets:Can you measure the intangible?

Mary Adams

Trek Consulting LLC

KM Forum, July 20, 2006

measuring knowledge assets
Measuring Knowledge Assets
  • Why?
  • What?
  • How?
  • Case studies
the need to measure knowledge assets is acute
The need to measure knowledge assets is acute

Data: Ned Davis Research, Inc.

accounting systems provide several distinct advantages
Accounting systems provide several distinct advantages:
  • Objective standards
  • Quantitative measures
  • Consistent methodology
  • Consolidated presentation
how to measure
How to measure?

Pacioli would advise us to start with an inventory

Pacioli’s “Summa” as seen in

today there are three available approaches
Today there are three available approaches:
  • Valuations
  • Scorecards
  • Assessments
scorecards start by mapping intangible drivers of financial performance
Scorecards start by mapping intangible drivers of financial performance

Source: Kaplan, Robert S. and Norton, David P., Strategy Maps: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004

metrics are assigned for each category
Metrics are assigned for each category

Source: Kaplan, Robert S. and Norton, David P., The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1996).

case study

Case Study:

IC Rating™

Events business


1. Efficiency

2. Risk

3. Renewal and Development

Present value of IC efficiency in creating future financial value

Threat against present efficiency * probability of threat coming true

Efforts to renew and develop present efficiency

IC Rating looks at three perspectives

Present day


  • Interviews with internal (1/3) and external (2/3) stakeholders
  • Questions include:
    • Closed questions that lead to a letter rating
    • Open questions that yield answers that are summarized anonymously in final report
comments from stakeholders
Comments from Stakeholders
  • The sky is the limit in this market.
  • We could be dead in the water if something happens to our founders.
  • S. has an intuitive sense for picking talent.
  • The brand is still not known in the media.
  • Big issue is the ageing of both the our performers and our audience.
  • The pricing strategy is brilliant…set in relation to comparable training opportunities.
  • As long as they are in the business of selling hours they will be susceptible to problems. The biggest opportunity is in information products.
issues on the table at event co
Issues on the table at Event Co.
  • How to connect with the huge market opportunity
  • How to profit from latent IP
  • New business/old business balance
  • Management succession plan
process innovation
Process innovation




  • A large entertainment company wanted to cut costs, without jeopardizing value offering
  • Used IC RatingTM to learn future potential in all business units
  • IC RatingTM showed a varying degree of potential, and a variety of issues in the business units.
  • Through benchmarking, possible improvement areas and opportunities for cross-learning were targeted
  • In each targeted area, development budgets were reduced, since systems/know-how could be leveraged from another business unit to another
  • 5 major areas for internal cross-learning have been identified
  • In total, costs have been cut by >Euro30 million
  • Management is convinced that this was achieved without jeopardizing value offering




  • A company was facing new competition and felt the need to improve its image and service levels.
  • The company used IC Rating™ to identify areas of potential improvement in order to become successful in a competitive environment.
  • IC Rating™ displayed severe problems in the corporate culture and the management’s internal practices.
  • On the other hand, the management was rated as strong. The company network and brand also received strong ratings.
  • With this result at hand the executive team identified and pursued a number of initiatives.
  • By strengthening the internal leadership with new management and training, the employee pride for the organization was enhanced and service improved – in the end increasing productivity by almost 20%.
strategic fit
Strategic Fit
  • Wholesale subsidiary of a large food and low-temperature warehouse and logistics company
  • Market suffering from low margins and severe competition

Company Profile




  • Used IC RatingTM to identify current strengths and weakness as well as its future potential
  • Wanted to use the results of IC RatingTM to support merger talks with another large food wholesaler.
  • IC RatingTM showed strength in the sales force and merchandizing abilities, backed by the strong leadership of CEO
  • Weakness was identified in the process area. Since potential merger partner was famous for its state-of-the-art systems, the rating strengthened the perception of potential synergies.
  • The sales organization was changed to solution-based, from the old style ”geographic-based” sales units
  • Also introduced Skandia’s Navigator (and Dolphin system) to become more focused on the vision and strategies
  • Helped get the merger deal done at favorable terms
market valuation
Market Valuation




  • The number three IT company on the OM Stockholm Stock Exchange aimed to help the market better understand its potential as a knowledge-based company.
  • All 35 subsidiary companies which comprise the Group were rated
  • IC Rating™ divided the IT-Group into four different categories for potential.
  • By supplementing this information to the annual report they increased transparancy: both strong and weak sides were exposed, increasing understanding for potential as well as increasing trust of the Group.
  • The Group used results to benchmark and navigate the companies into the future.
  • The Group’s overall goal of 10% margins was individually revised depending on the potential shown in IC Rating™.
  • The day when the result of the rating was first shown, the share value of the IT company increased by 8%.
buy side support
Buy-side support




  • Major investment fund with two similar companies in the portfolio, Company A and Company B
  • Only interested in continuing with one of them in a second round
  • Used IC RatingTM to evaluate future potential in both companies
  • IC RatingTM showed a very high potential (high rating), in Company A. Company B had serious issues, particularly in the process capital area.
  • The recommendation was clear: support Company A in second round. Divest Company B.
  • The investment fund kept Company A
  • Company A financially outperformed industry averages after the second round
  • Company B, despite finding funding elsewhere, underperformed and eventually went bankrupt
  • The investment fund ROI exceeded 60%
sell side support
Sell-side support




  • A large communication company needed to sell off five business units
  • There was no interest from the market so the seller withdrew the companies and did an IC Rating™ on each
  • Used IC RatingTM to identify future potential in all five business units
  • IC RatingTM showed a varying degree of potential in the business units.
  • Seller was very transparent, presenting potential buyers with the full range of findings including strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and risks
  • All five units were sold
  • In total, a 20% premium was on the P/E multiple was received, compared to similar deals at the same time
  • The buyer attributed the premium to the transparency, which reduced buy-side risk.
for more information
For more information



Contact Mary Adams