During the early years of computing, the management of financial data was applied to technology for both individual and personal use.

Yet in many ways, the world of computerized financial data has not yet progressed as far as have other computer applications. This situation developed in part because of the lack of a single financial-data standard. Consequently, in spite of expensive systems implementations, spreadsheets remain the most commonly used software in the offices of many chief financial officers. On top of that fact, government financial regulators have frequently added their own proprietary reporting standards.

The message of Professor Chen's report is that public executives can now take the series of problems presented by the need for financial-information interoperability and turn them into significant opportunities for increasing efficiency and transparency by using the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). XBRL, simply stated, is an open-source language that can enable the standardization of vast quantities of financial and business data and make the data easier to collect, organize, compare across legal entities, and use in making more timely and meaningful strategic and tactical decisions.

Professor Chen examines six major XBRL implementation efforts in five countries and draws a number of important lessons to help executives realize the full potential of XBRL. Early XBRL implementations, driven principally by government financial regulators, have proven that the potential of XBRL is real.

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