The method to be used for intellectual capital management depends upon the type of capital. Three of the most common types are human, structural, and relational capital. Each of these requires different kinds of handling in order to develop and thrive. Overall, the process of intellectual capital management is the management of both intangible and tangible intellectual resources.
Management of human capital consists primarily of nurturing and developing the workforce. Employees possess the only kind of intellectual capital that can walk away from the company. In order to continue to benefit from its human resources, an organization will typically focus on retention efforts. An organization may also devise ways to help the workforce to thrive, from encouraging innovation to facilitating skills development.
Another aspect of intellectual capital management is the maintenance of structural capital. This is the framework that enables proper functioning of human capital. Management of this area includes intellectual property such as trademarks, patents, and databases. It can also include physical property such as buildings and hardware. An organization will typically manage this asset with careful tracking, inventory management, and strategy.
Relational capital is the customer-focused portion of intellectual capital management. It includes customer relationships with both the company overall and individual employees. The particular way in which a company engages its customers can increase loyalty and referrals, in addition to boosting its image with the general public. Trademarks can also be included in this category, and alongside franchises and licenses. A common way of managing this resource is to maintain close contact with customers via means such as surveys, promotions, and special programs that are unique to the company.
Intellectual capital management is sometimes combined with the process of knowledge management. This more general process manages all of the knowledge assets of an organization, from the intangible to the quantifiable. By combining these elements, an organization can ease the process of tracking, managing, and using its resources. It can also account for the ways in which intellectual capital and knowledge are intertwined.
An organization’s intellectual capital is essentially its gathered knowledge transformed into a valuable asset. Intellectual capital may be in active use or exist as a sort of debit in an organization’s resources. By managing this resource effectively, an organization can be assured that it is reaping the benefits of all available intellectual assets. This typically includes recognizing, retaining, and organizing these assets for optimum effect.