For Connexionz Executive Chair Tony Kan, the “aha” moment of learning about intangible assets hit him like a bus.
This insight is poetic because the New Zealand-based company is dedicated to simplifying public transport networks by gathering, washing and applying Big Data principles.
Connexionz’ tools and systems were operating the back-end and front-end of public transport networks all over the world, including major cities in the US.
But Kan wanted to scale faster and needed a pathway to get there. He knew that every client using the technology tended to rave about its benefits.
Then EverEdge asked one question that focused his mind: What part of Connexionz do you want to make famous?
Kan saw the problem immediately. Connexionz was packed full of smart people producing cutting-edge services with world-class efficiency. But his team was so wrapped up in building such a great product that it spent very little time translating that success into building equity in its brand.
“It’s a bit of a paradox. We had lots of engineering-type people who got so siloed in their tangible projects that they were thinking less of brand equity and the impact of balance sheets on customers, potential customers and investors. That was the biggest disconnect for us,” Kan said.
Now that the company could use an intangible asset lens, the team saw how Connexionz wasn’t yet using its assets in a strategic way to showcase to new and existing clients the company’s overarching philosophy.
“Every day we strive to ensure that what we do always works reliably for our clients. Clients stick with our systems for many years because we create a cooperative environment. Our clients have come to expect that our systems will just work no matter what.
“That was the kernel of what makes us special and helps drive our brand value, and suddenly we could see it clear as day. What did we want to make famous? Our high level of customer care and cooperation,” Kan said.
EverEdge also highlighted that the huge pools of vehicle, route, passenger and other data gathered by Connexionz was an important intangible asset that could underpin the marketing message about care and cooperation.
“Our customers do over 32 million passenger trips each year and we record over 1.3 billion GPS positions annually. Every piece of this data helps real people in their daily lives. So, it made sense that this should be a key part of our messaging as well,” Kan said.
With a new appreciation of the value and potential of its intangible assets, Connexionz was able to refocus its strategic efforts on articulating this value and turning it into brand equity. This strategy helped Connexionz expand into more cities in the US, with each success bringing new clients and, of course, more data in a snowball effect.
Kan said the firm’s entire culture has shifted to align with not just creating a great product, but also doing a better job at selling Connexionz’ brand story.
“Clearly, it must be working because we can see our marketing messages and activities being noticed by our US rivals as we encounter each other in trade shows and other industry events,” Kan said.
The intangible asset lens also helped shape how the team handled software development investment on its balance sheet. Instead of expensing software development labour, the company now understands that software should be capitalised. This gives shareholders and investors better visibility of this important intangible asset.
“The difficulty with intangible assets is that they are, well, intangible. Working with EverEdge provided a framework for us to structure our thinking and develop an action plan,” Kan said.
“Our marketing messaging has become much sharper, and our balance sheet better reflects the true value of what our many years of efforts have achieved.”
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