Chapter 3Value or Values?




You can’t communicate complexity, only an awareness of it.

Alan Jay Perlis — Epigrams on Programming


The concept of value, for enterprise assets, is essential because it is a measure of their usefulness. Numerous concepts of values have been defined for enterprise assets. They can be categorized according to two main criteria. The first criterion is simply: “Who is concerned?” The second is whether the value is financial or non-financial.

The assets, in turn, are usually divided into physical assets and intangible assets. The former are the usual assets, those which can be seen and physically measured, such as buildings or machines. The latter, on the other hand, cannot be seen or measured directly but are nonetheless usually recognized as contributing to either the competitive advantage of a company or to its legal rights. In this category, we find assets such as trade secrets, copyrights, patents, human capital, and, of course, software. Some organizations1 even propose ways to account for intangible assets in financial statements and the literature on this subject is extensive.

Thus, we must ask what kind of asset an information system (IS) really is. An IS is actually a hybrid object. The hardware and the premises that house it are clearly physical assets. Remember also that an IS can be seen as the explicit knowledge of a company. Thus, an IS is also an intangible asset, just like human capital, specialized know-how, or patents. Some IT management ...

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