PwC predicts real-time information boom

The consultant’s Technology Forecast, launched this week, predicts that many businesses will make efforts to provide financial information more quickly and in more accessible formats.

Doing so will help companies to regain the confidence of investors and comply with new regulatory requirements.

PwC said that standards such as eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), and new business intelligence and integration technologies, can reduce costs and improve efficiency by giving a real-time view of operations and allowing executives to make decisions more quickly and effectively.

Based on XML, XBRL is an electronic format used to simplify the flow of financial statements, performance reports, accounting records and other financial information between software programs.

It is supported by a consortium of over 200 corporations, financial markets, accounting firms and regulators.

Alison Jones, PwC partner and XBRL expert, explained that the format would allow companies to manage information more effectively and react more quickly to changing business conditions.

‘As corporate transparency continues to be at the forefront of discussion in the business world it provides an important incentive for businesses to make use of these capabilities,”‘she said.

Until recently, there were no standards that would allow financial information to be automatically communicated between different applications.

Although currently used by relatively few early adopters, PwC predicts that, in the next three to five years, XBRL will become the generally accepted way to report business information.

Bo Parker, managing director at PwC’s Menlo Park European Technology Centre in London, suggested that XBRL has the potential to become more significant for business than the transition from pencil and paper to electronic spreadsheets.

‘Coupled with developments in business intelligence systems, and the expanded use of XML in web services, business efficiencies are set to improve dramatically. Roll-on the real-time enterprise,’ said Parker.

The Technology Forecast also revealed details on other technologies to help companies make faster and more effective decisions.

These include business intelligence systems, business integration technologies, and supply chain event management capabilities that provide real-time information about order status and inventory levels.

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