Intangibles: a way to measure improvement, growth and transformation
There is no doubt that we are constantly facing new changes, new circumstances that transform and destabilise the course of action we have set ourselves and that force us to be flexible. In the same way, globalisation and our way of interacting with other market agents is also constantly changing, and it is within this global world where initiative, creativity, the capacity to innovate and our attitude towards development allow us to position ourselves or remain on the fringes of our surroundings. However, none of these aspects are physical assets that we can acquire. These are the "intangibles" of the company.
An intangible asset is an identifiable asset without physical substance.
Identifiable, since it is materialised in a project, with an achievable objective, defined and quantified resources and with a high probability of success. The purpose of this type of asset is to generate profitability for the company, either by selling or leasing it or by improving internal processes that increase efficiency and improve productivity.
There are intangibles that are acquired, such as licences, patents, administrative concessions or goodwill; these are the obvious, textbook intangibles that practically all companies have at some point. However, the really interesting intangibles are those that a priori we do not know that exist but which, by analysing the company in depth, are revealed and turn out to be very profitable. All companies, in their need to interact in the market and in their sector, are in constant development.
This development involves improving a process, professionalising an area and creating tools that facilitate tasks and improve the quality of information. And all of these actions are aimed at reducing costs to improve profit, at increasing agility in sales and, consequently, at sales growth and at improving the analysis of our day-to-day work, which in turn allows us to improve decision-making and correctly implement our strategy, always focused on increasing business results. When we are able to identify the set of resources that make these improvements possible, assess them and determine their objective of success, we are faced with a project, whether it is a development project or an innovation project and, if the latter were the case, we would be pioneers in its study and creation.
The recognition of this type of asset is not only possible but even advisable. If a financial institution is approached for financing, the response will probably be negative, as it is not a physical asset what we intend to acquire. In terms of financing, you can always turn to some public aid or tax benefits in the form of deductions if the project is well defined. But the reality is that, regardless of whether it is financed or not, the company necessarily has to incur these development and improvement costs and they are generally lost in the profit and loss account for the year. However, the right thing to do would be to value and identify them, to know on an annual basis what we have invested in order to develop and improve the company's operations and finally, to value, as far as possible, the benefits that these investments have brought us.
Human capital and its ideas are, increasingly, a basic and fundamental element in the development of companies and in their adaptation to change and, without a doubt, an asset capable of generating a great competitive advantage. Like all business pillars, it needs to be reinforced. Its recognition and enhancement is not only necessary to measure the company's progress, but also shows a very important qualitative aspect of the company and demonstrates a clear focus on evolution.