Friday, February 15

The SEC side-steps BI

Could the SEC be side-stepping business intelligence forcing companies to report financial data in an XML standard? Or could this turn into the investor's version of "financial intelligence"?

The SEC launched an XBRL-based online tool that allows investors to extract, compare and analyze executive compensation for large U.S. companies. This tool is so important to the SEC that they are pressing to mandate it as a requirement for all companies to post their financials for investors to view.

Investors can do analysis and reporting on companies to determine investment worthiness. And the best part, no Data Warehouse required.

Business Need: Ensure financial accuracy - In recent years, regulatory reporting requirements prescribed by new legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the United States, have raised the importance of reporting accuracy and transparency.

Companies are forced to produce a public BI system, of sorts, hosted by the SEC.

Microsoft: As we know, MS Office Word and Excel have long been used to help compile, report, and consume financial information. Together, XBRL and Microsoft Office hide the complexities and shoot for wide-scale adoption in the financial community. Microsoft has a considerable lead in the market as financial people are very familiar with Excel.

With SEC's XBRL, contextual information is stored, while the language and accounting standards are irrelevant.

What is it? Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is a worldwide industry standard for the publishing, exchange, and analysis of financial reports and data based on the XML language. The XBRL technical standard is being developed by XBRL International, a not-for-profit consortium with 200+ members worldwide.

So where does this leave you if you're managing BI and your CFO needs to produce these XBRL financial filings? Most likely the financial department will want to export directly from their financial system. In my mind, this would break BI's one shared truth concept for an organization. Or does it?

This boils down to what BI is today and what BI can do for an organization in the future. Today, SEC filings may not be your BI system's mandate. In the future, BI needs to expand it's definition. Should it always include ETL and a data warehouse? Or should BI focus on delivering content throughout the organization and to external partners or customers? I think the later.

BI has potential but is rot with problems -- failed projects, high costs, low returns. Some organizations have made BI very successful. The US Veterans Affairs is one of the largest Microsoft Analysis Services deployments in the world with a profound cost savings of over a billion dollars! Now that is successful BI!

So you may want to consider how XBRL should be apart of your BI system using an overall mandate of providing content to the masses. As for XBRL, couldn't they at least come up with a friendlier acronym!?

1 comment:

Tom Hudock said...

Thanks Fayu for this link to "The Dangers of XBRL" by Robert Kugel.

"... companies are slow to take it up... afraid it will be a back door to regulating the structure of corporate charts of accounts."