Creative Management: Intellectual Property Asset Management Tools

By John Edwards
Sun, June 01, 2003

CIO — They may consist only of words, numbers, sounds or pictures, but for a growing number of enterprises, works of intellectual property (IP) have become essential assets.

"As much as 80 percent of top-performing global companies’ market capitalization is driven by intellectual assets," says Gartner IP asset management analyst Debra Logan. And just as General Motors must manage its inventory of dashboards, wheel covers and seats, so must a publisher such as Simon & Schuster get a handle on its various book-related assets, including content, cover art and author photos. "We require a digital asset bank," says Senior Vice President and CIO Anne Mander.

Simon & Schuster, like other companies with gobs of mind-generated assets, needed a way to organize and distribute its IP. The company found the answer in IP asset management software.

Unlike standard asset management applications, which are primarily geared toward handling physical objects, IP asset management tools are designed to accommodate intangible intellectual materials that can be utilized in numerous ways and are often surrounded by a host of legal, financial and regulatory issues. And unlike ordinary document and content management programs—which let users find, access, share, reuse, distribute and archive information—IP tools provide a variety of other capabilities, such as legal status monitoring, licensing and royalty tracking.

Media companies aren’t the only ones that need IP management software. Companies in such diverse industries as pharmaceuticals, aviation and beverage production can benefit from the technology, says Jim Murphy, senior analyst at AMR Research. "A lot of effort [in these fields] goes into R&D types of issues," he says. "Pharmaceuticals, for example, need to do drug discovery." Clinical trials and related testing procedures generate lots of information that needs to be organized, managed and utilized by numerous enterprise divisions. "It gets pretty complicated," Murphy says.

Out with the Old

At Simon & Schuster, IP asset management software replaced a home-grown archival system. "We had a full-time archivist who basically policed it and made sure that everybody got the proper copy," says Mander. The publisher’s new Teams Digital Asset Management software, developed by Artesia Technologies, provides a centralized way to organize, manage and distribute book content, cover art, marketing materials and other collateral resources. The software also lets companies extend branding, promotion and comarketing by automating the sharing, licensing and distribution of digital assets and promotional materials.

Simon & Schuster began rolling out the "digital asset bank" across its various publishing divisions throughout 2001. The system works across platforms, providing a common user interface that helps more than 500 employees find and use the most recent version of various IP assets, even while those materials are still under development.

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