What is a business' most important asset? If the business focuses on creative work, like an ad agency, the most important asset is the employees or the intellectual property rights. For financial institutions, the most important asset is the balance sheet, the combination of assets, liabilities and equity. For a producer of commodities, the primary asset may be the product itself - cars, computers or food. However, the one asset that all of these businesses must have is information and that information, more likely than not, is stored on a computer. If you walk into your local bank branch to cash a check, you will notice that each teller has a large amount of cash available to pay out to customers. However, the amount of cash on hand is a small percentage of the overall value of the bank accounts handled by that branch. The rest of the money sitting in customer accounts consists of 1's and 0's coursing their way through the bank's central computer system. The bank may argue that its customers, financial resources or employees are its most important asset, but the reality is that, if the bank loses its information, it will likely be out of business. A Web development shop may argue that its developers are its most important asset, but if the code for a new product is revealed to a competitor before it is released, the Web development shop may be out of business. For these reasons, information is typically the most important asset in a business.
Whether you agree that information is the most important asset or not, it is the one significant asset that is common throughout your business and vital to its existence. For the purposes of the Framework protection of information is the primary goal.
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