When the chief data officer at the Federal Reserve Board, referred to data as an asset at the recent Information Quality Symposium, she sparked a debate that, at first glance, appeared to be purely semantic. "Have you ever tried to use the 'asset' word with an accountant?" asked one attendee. When Casey responded in the affirmative semantics soon cut away to fact. "Assets are on the balance sheet," the attendee said, "It's pretty tough to find companies doing that."
According to Gartner, even companies such as Google and Facebook, whose business models are built on collecting and selling data, don't have a line item for their information assets. Yet over 80% of business executives surveyed by Gartner believe that data is implicit within their balance sheets, nested within other intangible assets. There is a growing concern among regulators that it is not.