XBRL technology will drive business success

Technologies such as Extensible Business Reporting Language and web services will drive business success by putting more...

Technologies such as Extensible Business Reporting Language and web services will drive business success by putting more accountability into business processes and making them more transparent, according to a new report.

The latest technology forecast from PricewaterhouseCoopers predicted that XBRL, backed by web services, will help organisations react to business change, comply with new regulatory frameworks such as the banking industry's Basel 2, and manage information more effectively.

Alison Jones, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the technology will ultimately save organisations time and money. "The reason I am interested in XBRL is the business benefits it provides," she said. "XBRL represents the most efficient way to deliver on the future reporting model."

In three to five years' time XBRL will become the accepted standard for reporting business information, said Jones, resulting in simplified processes, improved access to information and enabling better informed business decisions.

However, she said that adopting XBRL would require investment in other areas such as business intelligence software to help interpret the data.

Bo Parker, managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers' European technology centre, said over the past year business intelligence software has become more focused on individual transactions and this, coupled with the increased use of XML in web services, is helping to dramatically improve business efficiencies.

Other IT industry trends identified by Parker include companies weeding out kit that does not generate return on investment and cutting back on IT infrastructure to fund investment in applications such as business intelligence.

What is XBRL?

Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is based on the XML standard for data transfer. XBRL-defined information held in hitherto incompatible systems can be used to populate searchable business reports. These reports can be distributed to interested parties such as stakeholders and analysts, as well as to other software applications. XBRL International, the consortium backing the technology, is supported by more than 200 organisations.

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