Digital reporting: back to the future?

The future of reporting, a perspective from the XBRL team

Imagine a future where the world goes digital, no one reads newspapers because we get our news online; no one uses cash, because we all have debit or credit cards… Wait a minute, aren't we there already?! Well, not completely. If we examine the reporting process of many large corporations, it's surprising how un-digital it is. Corporations have always relied on paper and Excel or Word documents during the reporting process. Although not by choice, a better alternative didn't exist ... until now.

The age of digital reporting is here. Enter the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). The video below provides an introduction to XBRL and how digital reporting works. 

XBRL is a new and innovative approach for exchanging financial and non-financial reporting information in digital form. Today, many organizations acknowledge XBRL as the future of reporting. Although not yet required by regulators, XBRL is already gaining traction in countries throughout Europe and is expected to become the worldwide standard for reporting.

The Dutch government, a front-runner in the adoption of XBRL, has published an XBRL taxonomy based on the Dutch GAAP. Companies who report to the Dutch regulators can use this taxonomy and match the data definitions in their own reporting system.

Adoption of XBRL will eliminate much of the hustle of data gathering and re-keying of reporting frameworks. With data definitions tagged for all different reporting frameworks; financial, environmental, carbon, water, etc., the availability of digital barcodes will allow multiple reports to be generated automatically by a single press of a button.

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