For data management professionals, the answer is clear. Data is an asset that should be managed for optimal returns.
From a financial perspective, however, the answer is less clear. If data is an asset, can basic accounting principles, such as depreciation, be applied? If so, how do we calculate the asset value, or the decpreciation rate.
An article in the Guardian newspaper comments on a new French initiative, the Colin and Collin Report, proposes to introduce a tax on data collection. This is because France estimates that companies like Google earn billions a year from the collection of personal information in France.
The report is unlikely to drive short term changes to the law – however it is a first step towards an official quantification of data value from an accounting perspective. If the French government can recognise data as a taxable item where does this leave general accounting practise?