Lou Rohman, Vice President, XBRL Services, Merrill Corporation | January 10, 2017
Merrill recently hosted a webinar on some of the latest ways XBRL is transforming how financial information is consumed, featuring Alexandra Ledbetter of the SEC Office of the Investor Advocate and Emily Huang, president of idaciti, as well as myself. If you have time, I highly recommend listening to the full webinar online. In the meantime, here’s a quick recap:
Alexandra Ledbetter: XBRL gives investors better information, faster
Alexandra began her talk by stating that one objective of the Office of the Investor Advocate is to “help advance the ball in the area of structured data.” Why is XBRL so important to an investor advocate? Because the use of standardized, structured data will significantly improve the efficiency of the entire financial reporting ecosystem.
Automated data aggregation and curation will reduce the multi-week lag between the end of a period and the release of reporting figures. Standardization will also reduce the chance of errors as data is collected, formatted and curated. Alex also talked about the potential of Inline XBRL to further increase reporting efficiency and data quality and make financial information even easier to consume. Ultimately, Alex explained that the expanding use of structured data will give investors higher-quality, closer-to-real-time information—enabling them to make better, more informed decisions.
idaciti shows off easy-to-use tools for extracting powerful insights
Emily had a great quip at the start of her talk. She said that she believes XBRL data is, above all, “interactive.” That is, it’s meant to be used. Emily then showed just how idaciti’s intuitive tools are making it easy for anyone to use this data to pull out important new insights. She demonstrated how easily one can dive into complex metrics to glean insights that traditionally would have required an immense (often prohibitive) time investment. Emily also explained how idaciti’s tools are bridging the gap between the XBRL and non-XBRL portion of financial disclosures—analyzing qualitative information as well as hard data. She brought to life Alex’s description of the promise of Inline XBRL, showing how idaciti leverages inline XBRL to bring up smart pop-up windows with related information that provides important context and additional insights.
A gentle reminder: keys to data quality improvement
I closed out the webinar with a reminder on key ways organizations can reduce common errors and improve the overall quality of their XBRL data—from using the XBRL US Data Quality Committee’s automated error-checking tool to being careful in areas of disclosures where mistakes are most often made.
Listen to the full webinar
Again, if you have time, the full audio and interactive slideshow is available here.