The introduction of XBRL tags enables automated processing of business information by computer software, cutting out laborious and costly processes of manual re-entry and comparison. Computers can treat XBRL data ‘intelligently’: They can recognise the information in a XBRL document, select it, analyse it, store it, exchange it with other computers and present it automatically in a variety of ways for users. XBRL greatly increases the speed of handling of financial data, reduces the chance of error and permits automatic checking of information.
Inline XBRL (iXBRL) offers additional benefits as it presents XBRL data in a human readable form, either on screen or in printed output. It also enables the author’s branding and layout to be maintained so that the recipient can view the same document the author created, whilst the computer can ‘intelligently’ recognise the embedded XBRL tags.
HMRC will benefit from much more effective analysis software, cutting out unnecessary queries and helping to deliver better automated risk assessment so they can focus resources on businesses where the compliance risks are greatest. In addition HMRC and Companies House will achieve major improvements in the speed and efficiency with which they handle business data. Both will cut out manual processes and handling of paper.
As iXBRL becomes established, many companies may find that they can benefit from using XBRL to improve internal processes. XBRL has many potential benefits for businesses. By upgrading systems to utilise XBRL they can streamline and automate their methods for collecting, assembling, monitoring and reporting business data across their whole operation. They should be able to integrate disparate data systems. They can also turn internal management reporting and external reporting into processes which are fast, efficient and cost-effective.
Companies may want to discuss the exploitation of these benefits with their accountants and software and system providers. Consumers of financial data, including banks and other financial institutions, investors and analysts, can receive, find, compare and analyse data much more rapidly and efficiently if it is in XBRL or iXBRL format.