Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 03 2014

Guest Column: Digital Property Is Real Property: 5 Ways to Treat it That Way

Courtney Hunt
Digital PropertyRecognizing and respecting that digital property is in fact “real” property requires organizations to (1) make sure they own their own domain name(s) and lay claim to related social media properties, (2) require all official email be sent via domain-linked accounts, (3) take cybersecurity seriously, (4) maintain a presentable web presence, and (5) create policies and procedures (and commit necessary resources) to maintain digital property in the best possible condition at all times. (August 9, 2014)
Although we’re in at least the seventh decade of the Digital Era, and people realize how integral social and digital technologies are to both our personal and professional lives, there is still a very strong tendency to underestimate the critical role of digital property in managing a brand identity, pursuing goals and objectives, and managing risk. Digital property is often treated as if it’s less important than more traditional notions of property like physical assets and tangible goods (including paper-based goods). The main reasons for this are likely:

  • It’s something that many people haven’t given much thought to (unless they have a tech company or online business). Everything’s been changing so fast, particularly over the past few years, that many folks haven’t had enough time to slow down and think about what their digital identity and activity should look like, or how they need to protect their brand(s) and organization(s) in cyberspace.

  • Compounding that issue is the fact that many people – particularly leaders – are still fairly illiterate when it comes to digital technology, and they often “don’t know what they don’t know.” As a result, they are generally unaware of the kinds of factors they should be paying attention to and taking action on, particularly when it comes to managing risk. They also haven’t prepared themselves to commit the necessary resources to ensure their digital property is well maintained and protected.

  • Finally, there is the issue of digital’s “false invisibility.” Unlike physical assets and other tangible materials, digital property is basically only seen when someone makes a point to look at it. So if an individual or organizational leader isn’t paying attention to it, it’s easy to forget it’s there. Ironically, however, it actually creates much more exposure for both individuals and organizations. The number of people who can access a piece of digital property in cyberspace at any given moment is far greater than the number who can access any physical, earth-based equivalents.
Recognizing and respecting that digital property is in fact “real” property requires a real commitment to at least five key actions. These actions are critical for organizations of all types and sizes, including “single shingle” business owners (e.g., executive coaches, consultants). Depending on their digital engagement, other professionals should consider them as well. In a nutshell, organizations should:

  • Make sure they own their own domain name(s) (and related social media accounts)
  • Restrict email communications to the organization’s domain-related address(es)
  • Take cybersecurity seriously
  • Maintain a presentable web presence (at all times!)
  • Implement policies and procedures (and allocate time and resources) for maintaining digital property

Treating Digital Property as “Real” Property: Recommended Actions

Owning Domain Names and Social Media Accounts

Restricting Email Communication

Taking Cybersecurity Seriously

Maintaining a Good Web Presence

Making Maintenance a Priority

Related Resources

It’s Time to Get Serious about Digital Technology

Creating a Brand Identity in the Digital Era: 13 Key Factors

Dressing for Success in Cyberspace: Give Yourself a Digital Make-Over

Digital DIY: Penny Wise and Pound Foolish?

Website Upgrades: 5 Essential Considerations

Your Thoughts?
As always, I welcome your feedback. What questions has this piece raised for you? What would you add to, change, or delete from the recommendations provided?

About the Author 

Courtney HuntA Digital Era thought leader and strategist, Courtney Hunt is an energetic and passionate leader committed to helping individuals and organizations tackle key challenges and opportunities in strategic, innovative, efficient, and effective ways. The Founder and Principal of The Denovati Group, she regularly demonstrates her expertise through presentations and workshops, blog posts, white papers, published articles and book chapters.

This article was originally published on The Denovati Group.