Bernanke on Intangible Capital

Just catching up from the New Building Blocks for Jobs and Economic
conference in DC. I posted pretty actively on Twitter (or as Bernanke called it Tweeter) during the public sessions
and then helped lead one of the four key working sessions (more on that in my
next post).

We were thrilled to have Ben Bernanke as the keynote to open the conference. The core of his speech was about the importance of government support in research, a safe but important topic when talking about intangibles.

Seeing the hidden value in companies

How’s this for making intangibles tangible? This photo shows Intangible Capital author Mary Adams, sharing the summary graphs from two IC Value Driver Reports that we recently completed:

The photo was taken earlier this week at the Exit Planning Exchange Summit 2011.  The twist was that the legend for the graphs was hidden by a red pattern that could be filtered out with special glasses.

Everyone at XPX advises private companies and their owners on building and realizing value. OK, so I was nervous about trying this out in this very professional group. But it turned out to be a lot of fun!

The glasses were a great way to engage these professionals in conversations about the fact that 80% of the value of the average company is intangible — but hardly anyone  actually makes the drivers behind this huge value, well, tangible.

Here is one of the handouts we were viewing:

Don’t have red glasses? Want to know more? Check out the slides at and click contact us!

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The future of money isn’t just about money

I really enjoyed the energy and ideas at the Future of Money & Technology Summit in San Francisco on Monday (kudos to organizer Brian Zisk!). The energy level in the room was very high. You can get a good sense of the day by reading the Twitter stream for #futureofmoney. One of my favorite Tweets, from Mickki Langston, said

@mickki There are 2 groups present: those who want to expand their financial empire, and those who want to change finance completely

This dynamic made for some wide ranging conversations and stimulating discussions. (more…)

New Review on IP Spotlight Blog

IP attorney and blogger Jim Singer reviewed Intangible Capital calling it:

An interesting read for those involved in the business of intangible assets…The book provides tips that will help managers adapt to the knowledge-based economy and measure the true effect of intangibles on the bottom line.

Read the full review.

Program on January 7

Valuing intangibles – dispatches from the front

For our first IAFS program of the new year, Mary Adams be interviewing panelists are James Catty, Chairman, International Association of Consultants, Valuators and Analysts; and Gabe Fried, CEO, Streambank LLC., a valuator and an asset-backed provider of liquidity. 

We are going to talk about lessons learned in the recession about valuing intangibles–what’s happened to the valuation of intangibles in distressed sales? How has this experience on the ground changed the approach taken by valuation professionals?

Join this free call by registering at IAFS

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Don’t miss this discussion on Counting Intangibles

I am especially excited about the program I am leading for this month’s IAFS program on “Counting Intangibles.” I’ll be interviewing two great guests:

  • Chuck Hulten of University of Maryland and The Conference Board and
  • Alan Anderson of ACCOUNTability Solutions and AICPA.

Today, the intangible information gap in the average company is as high as 80%. It’s past time to close this gap and these are two people that can help us all understand how to do this. Please join in our discussion!  -Mary Adams

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The Future of IC

Had a great time last week at the ICICKM conference in Hong Kong. I had hoped to share my thoughts in real time via twitter but I kept getting cut off.

The conference was held at Hong Kong Polytechnic University which has 20,000+ students. They have very vibrant knowledge management and intellectual capital programs.  

I went to the conference with a mission. If you read this blog, you know that I am passionate about the power of IC thinking. We live at the dawn of the knowledge era. There is no going back. To be successful, organizations will need to understand the role of knowledge in their businesses. To me, the most powerful message of IC is in the simple concept that knowledge is held in many forms—by people, in relationships and in structural form—and that this knowledge is a dynamic system that cannot be managed but, rather, facilitated by organizations.

But the temptation for those of us raised and educated in industrial-era context are tempted to legislate and dictate how IC should be handled. It is always clear at these conferences that too many people continue to look to perfect a “better mousetrap “ rather than using IC ideas to empower organizations to use these ideas for themselves. This was my message when I called for IC 2.0 in a recent article.

So I led a track on Moving IC into the Mainstream. We had some great papers and presentations on case studies of IC in practice (I will try to get the authors to share their papers). We capped off the track with a discussion led by John Dumay of the University of Sydney on the barriers and enablers of IC in practice. We posted the discussion bullets on the IC Knowledge Center.

Then we segued into the closing forum of the conference. Organizers WB Lee and Eric Tsui kindly gave me the opportunity to pitch my thoughts on how to shape IC practice going forward and invite the conference participants to join a project I am launching with John Dumay called The Future of IC at the IC Knowledge Center. The goal is to gather stories on how IC concepts are being used in practice. We are calling it an open conversation and research project. John will be analyzing the content of the stories in a sense-making exercise. We also invite others to use these stories for research and practice.

Hope you will join in the conversations!

-Mary Adams

Great new article on contemporary M&A: Getting a Grip on Intangibles

Russ Banham at Treasury and Risk did a great job of laying out the importance of intangibles in mergers and acquisitions in this new article: Getting a Grip on Intangibles

Since 70% of the average deal is intangible and 50% of the average deal is goodwill, there is a screaming need for better information about what’s really going on in acquisitions. Intangible Capital co-author Mary Adams is prominent among a strong set of sources for the article:  Mark Sirower at Deloitte, Dan Tiemann at KPMG, Robert Bruner at University of Virginia’s Darden School, Stephan Thollot at E&Y, as well as the CFO’s of Steel Technologies, Arrow Electronics, PMI Group and Corning.

The message of the article is clear: intangibles are not going away. M&A professionals ignore them at their own peril.

Program on Intangibles for Public Relations and Investor Relations Professionals

Mary Adams will be appearing at the Public Relations Society of America meeting in Boston this week:

New Era, New Valuation Shift: Communicating Intangible Assets

6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
ML Strategies LLC, One Financial Center, 38th Floor Conference Room, Boston, MA 02111

Implementing PR and IR Strategies for a New Knowledge-Based Economy

As we emerge from the economic downturn, MarCom budgets are slow to recover; yet we’re still charged with moving PR and IR forward for our organizations. At any moment, the economy might flip a switch and we’ll be off and running on the next wave of productivity and profitability. Will you be ready for communications in the new economy?

Today’s communications professionals and corporate PR/IR staff face an interesting challenge: how do we communicate our company’s “intangible assets” — intellectual capital, corporate culture — to the market, customers, media and investors? How do we translate that value through PR and IR communications to the marketplace?

Even consumer-based companies are on board. If you aren’t doing it already, you should be.

Join us for a discussion on how to incorporate communications that convey the value of our companies’ intellectual capital and other intangible assets into our existing communications systems. The goal is to demonstrate real value of the assets inside our organizations.

Find out how to:

  • Set a plan in motion to get corporate mindshare around the concept of valuing intangible assets
  • Become a leader in the charge within your organization to improve communications around IP, knowledge and other intangibles
  • Create a multi-tiered program of communications strategies and tactics to better convey ‘the whole’ of the company’s assets to the marketplace.

You will be armed with an understanding of how to communicate intangibles as the New Economy rises again.

More information and to register

Mary Adams quoted on

In the September issue of CFO a comment by Intangible Capital author, Mary Adams:

Prevention Is the Best Approach

It’s important to understand how damaging reputational crises can be (“What’s a Reputation Worth?” May). But the real story is how to prevent them.

Seventy percent of the value of the average company is intangible. This is because processes, knowledge, and networks (all considered intangible by accountants) are the core drivers of competitive success — and reputation.

Managing reputation starts with managing these intangibles. That’s why we say reputation is the new bottom line.

Mary Adams
Founder and Principal
I-Capital Advisors
Winchester, Massachusetts