Organisations need to manage digital assets as part of an overarching governance framework

With the omnipresence of digital technology and data storage in our daily working lives – from smartphone photos to meeting notes on the cloud – there is an urgent need to take a step back.

As organisations rapidly acquire digital assets, there is often little or no governance in place about handling, storing them and passing them on in succession planning. When organisations like McKinsey measure that staff can waste around a day each week searching for company files, you know it is time to take a good look at your organisation’s digital assets.

When we talk about assets, organisations tend to think of hard goods such as furniture, buildings and property. Sometimes we look at human resources, such as our staff, volunteers and board members. With today’s fast-paced technology changes, now is the time to expand that thinking to take into account your organisation’s digital assets.

How many digital assets does your organisation ‘own’? You will probably be surprised at the answer. To find out, first you must understand what a digital asset is then discover and classify them.

Having done that groundwork, you can then look at storage and access and succession planning, which we will look at in part 2 of this article next week.

What are digital assets?

When you imagine digital assets, it is easy to think of physical digital devices such as computers, tablets and smartphones. But perhaps your teams also use portable scanners, external hard drives and flash drives, cameras and video recorders for work. In our age of BYOD (bring your own device) nearly everyone uses their own smartphone for daily work or special events. What happens to the vast number of work databases, photos and files stored on these devices? More than likely they are your digital assets, along with digitally stored content and online accounts.

Digital content can include:

  • Images and photos, including your company’s branding and graphics, records of social events such as award evenings, or perhaps your staff members have been featured in campaigns such as #celebratingwomeninagedcare
  • Videos and corporate marketing
  • Text included in online articles by or about your organisation, staff, or yourself

And the list is growing every day. For example, with the advent of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality in the sector, cloud computing and file sharing, digital assets will include any material related to those experiences in the future.

Online accounts include:

  • Websites
  • Software licences
  • Social media, including organisational and perhaps staff
  • Bank accounts
  • Shop/trading/loyalty schemes
  • Industry association memberships

And again this list will only grow, for example as blockchain becomes more widespread you may acquire cryptocurrency and crypto wallets.

Discover and classify

Your next step is discovery. What do you have and where are the assets located?

In other words, conduct a digital asset audit. This can be as simple as a list classifying your assets as either device, content or account. You might want to note what format they are in. How permanent are they? In the future, will they need to be reformatted to be of use? If you have any data still on floppy disks, cassette tapes or VHS video, you will appreciate my point.

By gathering this data – a digital asset itself – you are helping to identify the potential value of each listed asset. In turn, this can contribute to your company’s overall perceived value.

Your digital assets audit is the first step of improved digital governance. You can then progress to the next stages of capturing data on access and storage, then determining a suitable plan for risk management, staff churn, succession, or data recovery in an emergency. This is vital to the sustainability of your assets organisation-wide and to enhance your overall governance.

Find out more

ionMy is a cutting-edge digital system that can help you by holding your asset register, including tagging who owns which assets. It can keep your current records secure and allow you to safely plan for your digital future.

  • For more information about ionMy’s governance capabilities or to book a demonstration, please visit the ionMy website
  • For advice on good governance for your organisation’s digital assets, please come and talk to us at one of the conferences we will be attending in 2019. See the list below.
  • Read Part 2 next week.

About the Author

Sonja Bernhardt OAM is a director and CEO of ThoughtWare, creators of the award-winning ionMy: Governance, Risk, Compliance software platform, used by residential aged and community care and not-for-profit organisations Australia-wide. In her spare time, Sonja is a commentator on emerging technologies on ABC Radio and cruise ships.

Speak to Sonja and her team about the ionMy platform and Asset Governance at the following conferences: