XBRL-Enabled Software Becoming More Commonplace
XBRL (Extensible Business Reporting Language) is a royalty-free, open specification for software that uses XML data tags to describe financial information for public and private companies and other organizations. XBRL benefits all members of the financial information supply chain by utilizing a standards-based method with which users can prepare, publish in a variety of formats, exchange and analyze financial statements and the information they contain.
The survey was conducted by the American Institute of CPAs, and the final report  includes a number of important conclusions, including:
- Of 21 vendors, two-thirds have, or will have XBRL-enabled software by December 2004
- Of 59 products investigated, half will be XBRL-enabled by December 2004
- Market demand for XBRL is low to moderate, and is not driving the move to add XBRL-enabled features
- Vendors serving larger customers are XML and XBRL enabling their software more quickly
- XBRL export functionality is the main feature being added
- Understanding the technical aspects and benefits of XBRL is key to XBRL enablement
"As the demand for enhanced business reporting through higher quality, more transparent and timely information increases, the need for technology that enables better reporting also increases," said Paul Penler, Principal, Ernst & Young and chair of the XBRL-US Adoption Committee. "XBRL is the solution, and this survey indicates that many XBRL-enabled applications are available to users now and considerably more will be developed during the next 18 months. Accounting software vendors perceive an increase in the demand and are making the investment now to XBRL-enable their tools in order to meet the needs of information users."
The survey concludes that XBRL is making significant progress, and, though in the early stages, is being widely accepted and adopted among the software community.