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XBRL: Yeah, it's THAT important

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In case you haven't noticed -- and judging by all the tumbleweeds and crickets, it seems like a lot of folks haven't -- this XBRL thing is getting pretty big.

You remember XBRL -- the data tagging language that's been tasked with saving the world by delivering accurate, timely, transparent and standardized financial information.

  • The SEC recognized XBRL's potential early on when it required all public U.S. companies to file their financial reports via XBRL.

  • The MACPA was early on the bandwagon, too. Tom Hood, Skip Falatko and the rest of the association are so completely convinced of XBRL's potential that we've adopted it ourselves ... and have helped write the blueprint for how non-profits can benefit from using XBRL.

  • Following the lead of progressive states like Nevada, Congress eventually jumped into the fray with an attempt to legislate data transparency and efficiency through efforts like the DATA Act.

  • Grassroots efforts like the one driven by the Data Transparency Coalition have surfaced, urging the public to encourage our government to make its data as transparent, efficient, and easy to understand as possible. The government works for us, after all. We have a right to know what, exactly, it's doing for us. The government's data is the story, and XBRL is one of the easiest ways to tell that story.

Long story short: There has been some major movement on the data front lately, and you're this close to seeing how huge XBRL really is.

And still way too many people think XBRL is all about public company financials -- if they think of it at all.

Maybe it's time to turn up the noise a bit.

I mean, think about it: ?In the wake of the financial crisis, everyone has been screaming for more transparency, more accountability, better data, better information, the ability to make more informed decisions so crap like this doesn't happen again. And now we have XBRL, a technology that might just deliver all of that -- and maybe more.

It might be that revolutionary.

It all sounds a little like social media to me. Early on, too many people dismissed the social movement as an interesting fad at best, and an unimportant annoyance at worst. Today, they're all struggling to keep their heads above water while next big wave (mobile, anyone?) bears down on them.

We're quickly approaching that kind of "are you going to ride the wave or be swamped by it" turning point with XBRL.

Thankfully, opportunities abound.

  • Let's start with accounting students. This is a niche that might all but ensure your ability to find a job in the near future. Do you still want to ignore it? Read more about how students are embracing XBRL in this Journal of Accountancy article (co-authored by yours truly and the JofA's Jeff Drew).

  • You also won't want to miss the MACPA's 2012 Innovation Summit, set for June 27 in Baltimore. Transparency, accountability, open government and XBRL will be featured throughout the agenda.

It's way past time to start paying attention, folks. XBRL isn't just another four-letter word. It's a game-changer.

Want to learn more?
Don't miss these XBRL-related programs:

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