Don’t reduce the intangible economy to the digital economy. Thanks.

I’ve already written about the new GDP calculation method that will soon be at work in the US. Regarding to what I’ve read here and there it seems that some clarification is needed to prevent mistakes.

If, in my post, I mentioned the impact this new calculation method for intangible assets can have on the developement of the Digital Economy and, beyond, on digitizing the “old” economy, if McKinsey also wrote something similar, we must avoid some easy shortcuts that lies on the assumption that “developing intangible assets = developing the digital economy”

First, have a look at what digital assets look like. We can draw two conclusions.

Digital is intangible but intangibles impact far beyond the digital economy

The first one is that if most of the digital economy relies on intangible assets, intangibles are not peculiar to the digital economy. They impact any industry, from 100% digital to 100% brick and mortar, and that’s why they matter. If we consider that digitization of economy, no matter the industry is a least – and even more – important that developing the digital industry, they are the lever that make this transformation possible. A lever which utilization and valuation depend on arbitrations that will be impacted by new rules.

The second is that if a large part of these assets are digital to some extent, focusing on this dimension only can make us forget when they come from and put their future development in danger.

As a matter of fact, even if they’ve been digitally captured, their origin is often everything but digital.

Knowledge is not digital. It comes from in-real-life experience and can be used under a digital form because people decided to share a part of it.

Customer relation have a digital side but, at a given moment, it’s all about the relationship between two people even if they never met physically.


Assets are digital by destination, not by nature

Data are produced digitally but what cause their creation in many cases is a natural or human fact or action which data track the existence and impact.

Reputation is all about people.Those who embody it, those whose act impact it and those who perceive it.

Processes and methodologies that are a matter of competitive advantage have been created by humans.

And so on…

Digital economy is fueled by physical economy

All digital assets are intangible But in most cases they’re digital by destination not by nature. The difference ? If we focus on digital and neglect people who fuel it we may run out of digital capital soon. I’ve already wonder what could happen if, tomorrow, people started a “data strike“. Private navigation, no likes, no retweets. We can imagine the dramatic impact on an economy fueled by data. I have no idea of how likely it is to happen but what is sure is that the probability internauts undertake such actions will depend on the way they’re treated, the attention paid to them.

What if employees decide to retain their knowledge ? After all they’re not stupid and will understand that in post industrial era they are the ones who own the largest part of the productive capital, not to enterprise, and will try to make the most of this new advantage.

We won’t develop anything digital without developing people and, more globally, anything at its periphery.

Digital is fueled by real life. Should we forget it, we’ll soon talk about bubbles again…




Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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