What is XBRL?
Many organizations have been looking to the internet to bring the long-heralded promises of “better, faster, cheaper” data to organizational decision-making, and specifically to business and financial reporting. An emerging technology standard, eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), promises to web-enable the financial reporting process for both preparers and consumers.
Instead of treating financial information as a block of text, XBRL provides a computer-readable tag to identify each individual item of data. By attaching identifying tags to individual pieces of data, a business reporting document becomes “intelligent” data, allowing the exchange of business reporting data by encoding the information in a meaningful way.
Computer applications can use the XBRL data to recognize the information in an XBRL document - selecting, analyzing, storing, and exchanging it with other computers and present it in a variety of ways for users. As companies review their business reporting disclosure controls and procedures and begin to comply with new filing requirements, XBRL is becoming the chosen tool to help facilitate and restore confidence in business reporting and in turn, to communicate accurately the value of the company.
- An open technology standard for reporting and analyzing business and financial information
- Software agnostic, or independent
- Accounting framework neutral
XBRL is not:
- A standardized chart of accounts
- A way to require the reporting of specific information
- A transaction level activity (although it can summarize general ledger transactions)
In recent years, XBRL has seen rapid expansion as an enabling technology around the world. XBRL is a “network innovation” which requires concerted action from a number of different stakeholders to be widely adopted. For this reason, its development has been, and continues to be, facilitated through the voluntary and collaborative efforts of key stakeholders — currently driven principally by local government and regulatory agencies, the most notable of which is US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which is requiring filings in this standardized electronic format.
We hope this site will add to the public dialogue now taking place about the merits of XBRL and about the promise of XBRL specifically. To that end, we have outlined the ways we think you can benefit from adopting XBRL now for your key business-reporting processes and provided a road map that can move you toward these ends.
On 30 January 2009, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a final rule for the mandatory use of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) in reporting financial information to the SEC.