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Managing Digital Assets - The Challenge of Creating and Sustaining Intangible Value in a Data-Driven Economy

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.           Session I. Defining Organizational Digital Assets
The Roundtable will begin by defining digital assets of organizations. Accountants have long valued intangibles such as an organization’s intellectual property and good will. As we move from the physical to digital, other intangibles become sources of value. These include, for example, the use of customer data, connections/networks and institutional knowledge. Reputational scores and the ability to attract users in the form of crowd-sourcing or endorsements have also taken on a more significant role in an organization’s valuation. 

  • As intangible goods begin to constitute an increasing percentage of economic activity, how should economists and businesses measure the contribution of these intangibles to an organization’s value and productivity?  
  • What are the salient characteristics and measurements of the new economy? 
  • To this end, what are the implications (pro and con) for organizations, including for-profits, non-profits and even governments in this shift in valuation? 
  • What is the role of an organization’s community and ecosystem in these answers?

10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.         Session II. Defining Personal Digital Assets
This session will apply much of the thinking and analysis from Session I to the individual persona.  Personal data has been called the “new oil” of the 21st Century. Every action on the web leaves a trace. The ability to assemble one’s profile, demographic data, “likes” on social media, reputational scores and to create a personal network all form one’s identity and social currency. This creates potential benefits for consumers as the collection and use of such data can, for example, offer opportunities for personalization of services. Furthermore, collective use of personal data can improve one’s health (Quantified Self) or quality of life (traffic maps). However, the collection of an individual’s digital assets can also raise significant identity and privacy issues.

  • How does one value, control and protect his or her digital assets?
  • What is needed to build a balanced personal data ecosystem?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.           Session III.  Opportunities in the Digital and Sharing Economies
The disruptive nature of the digital economy and the rise of digital assets have caused businesses to rethink their most valuable assets. Businesses no longer sell just a physical product, but add intangible services, such as review algorithms that alert customers to other potential products of interest. Furthermore, digital platforms offer opportunities to monetize physical assets that were never available before. In today’s Sharing Economy, for example, digital platforms transform dormant assets such as rooms (AirBnB) or car seats (Lyft) into revenue-generating assets. Review algorithms can increase sales and the value of certain businesses (Amazon). And crowd-sourcing provides both sides of the equation opportunities to create value. 

  • As businesses maneuver in the digital space, how will intangible assets increase the value of the worker and the firm? 
  • What business opportunities present themselves in the new economy? 

10:40 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.         Session IV.  Digital Liabilities
The collection of digital assets presents a host of potential problems for businesses (and governments) and can create or amplify significant liabilities. With near perfect reproduction capabilities, the digital space is rife with piracy. Companies sometimes misstep and breach trust with their current or potential customers—in privacy, fraud, identity theft, loss of personal data, or other ways.

  • How does a company account for loss-of-trust issues such as breaches, leaks, or depletion of its digital assets, such as when it is hacked, when it sells personal data thought to be private or its database becomes stale?  
  • How do businesses or governments value trust? 
  • How should businesses and regulators think about digital liabilities?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

8:45 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.           Session V.  Moving Towards Digital Government
Governments deal increasingly in the assets and liabilities of a digital economy.  They are opening up their own data, thereby providing the raw data and resources for businesses or the governments themselves to create value for the consumer or citizen. For example, the U.S. Government provides GPS and weather information, and localities can offer parking information and other conveniences that save energy and money. In short, governments can serve as platforms, and not just a service.  

  • How best can governments create, maintain and/or leverage markets, services and governmental processes?  
  • What are the down sides of governmental involvement in the digital spheres?

10:40 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.         Session VI.  Policy Approaches to Digital Assets and Liabilities

  • What policies—mostly government, but business as well can best foster innovative uses of digital assets for the society and the economy? 
  • What policies will protect consumers and citizens—increasing trust in the integrity of personal identity and autonomy—while still allowing for the beneficial opportunities offered by the collection, use and analysis of data? 
  • Are new approaches to consumer education and literacy advisable?  How should governments address these issues? 
  • What private businesses, e.g., insurance companies or accounting firms, can advance policy goals here?