The Securities and Exchange Commission voted this past May to propose requiring U.S. public companies to file their financial reports with Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). Read about it.

If this proposal goes though, it would mean that traditional financial statements and documents would have to be tagged with XBRL identifiers. In essence, financial statements will become easily searchable, comparable and interactive.

“This is all about bringing investors better, faster, more meaningful information about the companies they own," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said in a statement. While targeted at investors, the actual application of XBRL means formatting financial documents to be more easily searchable, and will lend itself to reorganized databases that can be easily downloaded into spreadsheets and applications and will provide many practical comparative and analytical uses.

I suggest that spend management technology providers should be following this closely, as it can lend to very practical integration into existing software solutions. The first one that comes to mind is the D&B Application, since they already have a massive database of public organizations. While the XBRL tagging of SEC filings in itself does little for the procurement professional, it will provide an easy way to match suppliers and potential vendors within software solutions, to provide quick and easy reporting and qualifications on a company’s financial viability.

The proposal, if approved, suggests that it will first mandate the XBRL reporting based on company size, with an eventual goal of tagging all public company’s financial statements. It will be interesting to see which providers, if any, are first to market with this type of reporting through spend management and spend analytics applications.
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William Dorn

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