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Really Simple Reporting

January 12, 2009

As you may know, “Really Simple Syndication” or “RSS” is an XML based web tool that enables content (written, audio, video) to be “broadcast” for public consumption. Websites offering RSS feeds typically use this icon to communicate that feeds are available. “Viewers” who are interested in receiving broadcast feeds can use any number of tools like GoogleReader, NewsGator, or MS Outlook to collect these feeds. These tools periodically check the feeds that users have subscribed to and load the feeds to the web based application (or desktop application) of their choosing.

Since XML can be used by web technologies like RSS to feed information to users around the world, could XBRL (the XML based financial language) be used in similar ways? What will the future of financial reporting look like after XBRL is fully deployed within companies world-wide? Could we see a future of “Really Simple Reporting” where financial and other business information is simply posted to websites and users subscribed to information using their favorite financial feed aggregator? Perhaps we might see specialized reporting whereby users subscribe to only those bits of financial information they want to use (such as earnings per share, net revenue, gross profit).

How will you use XBRL within your company? Could you do more than simply comply with an SEC mandate? Could you tag financial and other business information at a deeper level thereby enabling a streamlined internal reporting structure? If you did so, what would the future of internal financial reporting and analytics within your company look like?

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