XBRL: Coming to a theater near you

DSC03949At least that was the message I got from yesterday's session with Conor O'Kelly, First Vice Chair of XBRL International as he presented 10 Things Young CPAs (and students) Need to Know About XBRL to the Beta Alpha Psi Chapter at Salisbury University.

Of course Conor is in Ireland and Salisbury is on Maryland's eastern shore and we got everyone together vie Skype and desktop sharing (fitting, considering the subject).

Conor took us on a trip around the world with the views from regulators, government's and early adopters.

My take is that the benefits of XBRL are beginning to surface and a global set of best practices is starting to emerge and it will be 'coming to a theater near you' soon enough. The accounting students definitely felt it was something they should be watching and learning about. Should you?

Conor talked about four major uses of XBRL internationally:

  1. Market Regulation and standard setters across the globe
  2. Governments and business working to reduce the administrative burden of XBRL (25%+)
  3. Transparency in financial reporting (like the SEC here in US)
  4. Banking supervision and standardization across countries in response to market crisis

    With benefits like these:
  • Reduction in administrative/compliance burden for government filings
  • Transparency in financial reporting & democratization of the data
  • Business process efficiency
  • Data integrity and interoperability across computer systems
  • Efficiency across regulators and standard setters

Then Conor made the connection that students immediately resonated with - social networking, mobile, and the semantic web.

Talking about a walk on the beach in Ireland, he highlighted an app that when pointed to a plane overhead, could identify the plane, it's speed, origin, destination, flight information all by connecting via gps, geospacial, cognitive, and social technologies - most of these apps were created by social networks of people just interested in bringing this data together.

Imagine the possibilities when financial information becomes ubiquitous and 'tagged' with accounting context. In real time it can be analyzed, shared, re-mixed and made to become interactive, just like these emerging 'apps'?

By the way, there is an app for that - try BRIX a free app for Apple's iPhone that brings every public company report filed in XBRL right to your phone the minute it is filed.

We also gave an update on our own 'skunkworks' XBRL project at MACPA. We started this in December, 2010 to get firsthand knowledge of this emerging technology application.

MACPA's own Director of Finance, Skip Falatko has lead a project with our accounting student intern, Thomas Hood (my son) and some coaching by one of the XBRL founders, Eric E. Cohen to 'tag' our financial statements to XBRL GL and access and update several analytic spreadsheets and applications with no re-keying of data. The result has been direct updates are more accurate, save time (re-keying data), and help us spend more time analyzing and interpreting the data, than preparing it.

Turns out that this project inspired another project at Salisbury and Professors Summers and Wright are working more and more XBRL into their accounting and information systems courses. You can read more about it on page three Download PerdueNews_March2011

We will be doing a more in-depth presentation on this at the MD CPA Summit on June 3, 2010 at the BWI Hilton.

Presentations are available here and here.

Also check out our XBRL posts on CPA Success here: www.CPASUCCESS.COM/XBRL

And one more thing to help our friend out...

Conor let us know about a tragic event off the coast of Irelandwith a "perfect storm" that took two local fisherman. We made a contribution in Conor's name for the Skerries Lifeboat rescue boats. Please keep the fisherman and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Isn't it time to pay attnetion to this important "new" technology application?