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Friday, December 14, 2007

XBRL Reaches Marquee Companies

Ford, General Electric, Infosys and Microsoft are already using the
Business Reporting Tags to file financial reports. Can a full SEC
mandate be far off? With the release of new Extensible Business Reporting
Language taxonomies and Microsoft's announcement Dec. 6 that it used
the technology to file its quarterly earnings report to the Securities
and Exchange Commission, XBRL is proving it is mature enough to warrant
widespread attention and adoption. Microsoft is currently only one of
61 companies to voluntarily use XBRL to make SEC filings, said Rob Blake,
senior director, Interactive Services, Bowne and Co., and a founding
member of the XBRL consortium, founded in 1999 to develop and maintain
the language. Those companies include Bowne itself, as well as Ford,
General Electric and Infosys, Blake said. The Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation has also been using XBRL for two years, Blake said. "Every
financial institution in the U.S. that's regulated by the FDIC has
been using this language" to submit financial information to the FDIC,
he said. But some in the financial services industry already speculate
that the SEC is leaning towards mandating the use of the language in
reporting and filings. XBRL is likened to an XML schema, or digital
"bar code," which lets companies represent their data in a format
easily and quickly understood and processed by computers. The language
ensures that companies can accurately transmit financial data internally
and to investors, analysts and the SEC. The new taxonomies, based on
GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and released December
5, 2007 broaden and deepen the types of data to which XBRL can be
applied, making the language more accessible for companies across a
broader industry spectrum.

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