"Assets" is a general term we use for objects that come under the System Administrator's responsibility - be they physical: Computer, Printer, CDROM or more 'virtual' like an Operating System installed on a Computer, Software installed on that OS, Patches, Licenses etc. The goal is to allow the admin to manage all his assets, keep track of them and generate useful information about them.
This section will introduce you to the basic components and how they fit together (at least in the view of "Inventory"). You can get more detailed Information about each sub-component in its own help file.
The basic entity is a Computer. A computer can have Hardware installed (of many types), and Operating Systems installed. Each such OS can have Software Items installed, Licenses and Patches. Inventory allows management of this basic heirarchy by allowing to create each sub component (e.g.: Hardware item: CPU), and associate it where appropriate.
Other than computers with sub-component, you can also manage other entities: Users (which own hardware, perform operation, and even may be allowed to login to Inventory), Vendors - which sell you hardware and software, give you warrenty and other services, Locations - places or departments where you can associate Users or Hardware and so forth.
All these assets can be managed through Inventory, as you will see in the following sections.