Businesses are under pressure as never before to communicate information more quickly and thoroughly to managers, customers, business partners, investors, creditors, regulators and others. Extracting more information from company systems in less time is a business necessity. But fast and easy access is not enough—decision makers need fast and easy information use. The fast track to better information access and use for consumption and production is Straight through reporting , using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) and Web services Internet technology.
XBRL brings consistency to the names by which business-data items are known by all software; Web services provides universal standards for sending information safely and securely over the Internet, either internally or externally. This facilitates direct software-to-software information sharing—true interoperability—regardless of which software sends or receives the information. Together, the XBRL data standards and the Web services transportation standards, enable a “hands off” reporting process, where data moves straight through from software to software.
With XBRL and Web services, data is born ready for immediate re-use by authorised users. Other technology-integration solutions, without an XBRL Web services overlay, simply cannot promise this capability. Consolidating and changing information systems and moving information into a single warehouse, can improve information gathering, but can rarely produce readily re-usable information for every type of software. In addition, these solutions can introduce risks, leaving data efficacy vulnerable and forcing company reliance on third-party vendors to access their own information:
Risk to data efficacy. Migrating data to a new system almost inevitably results in data loss; moving information to a data warehouse separates data from its originating sources. In both cases, verification is increasingly difficult at higher and higher consolidation levels. With XBRL Web services, information is tapped at its publishing source every time it is used and is also traceable back to its origin from any consolidation level. Changes at the source “upstream” produce updates in reports and analyses using the information “downstream,” reducing chances that reports—and resulting decisions—are based on outdated facts.
Exposure to third parties. The alternative to XBRL’s universal data definitions and the Web services universal transport standards are proprietary data definitions and intricate proprietary-software layers. Proprietary information standards and software leave companies dependent on particular third-party vendors to adapt standards and service complex technology structures. With XBRL Web services, decision makers gain more, better, faster information with the software they use today—and whatever software they will be using tomorrow.