PwC predicts real-time information boom

Link: Nasdaq pilots XBRL reporting drive

In Technoloogy Forecast, the firm’s annual review on trends in technology launched this week, PwC’s predicts that many businesses will make efforts to provide financial information more quickly and in more accesible formats. Doing so will help businesses regain the confidence of investors and comply with new regulatory requirements.

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

Based on eXtensible Markup Language (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.

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and XBRL expert Alison Jones said XBRL 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,’ Jones 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, said XBRL has the potential to be more significant for business than the transition from paper and pencil 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,’ Parker said in a statement.

The Technology Forecast also includes 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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