Slxbrl_2Second Life is quickly becoming a first-rate training tool. Just ask the XBRL community.

On June 18, the MACPA held the first-ever continuing professional education (CPE) program offered for CPAs in Second Life, a two-hour Intuit workshop titled “The Future of Small Business and What CPAs Need to Know.”

Then, as proof that the first event was no fluke, on July 15 the MACPA hosted yet another CPE event in Second Life, a seminar titled “XBRL and the International Future of Financial Reporting” that was presented during a meeting of the San Francisco chapter of the Financial Executives Networking Group, or FENG.

The seminar was the MACPA’s latest example of what are known as “mixed-reality” events – sessions that take place in real life and a virtual world simultaneously. While FENG members attended the real-life session in San Francisco, CPAs from across the country listened to the same speaker, viewed the same slides and asked questions from a virtual conference center on CPA Island in Second Life. Those with microphones could use Second Life’s voice functionality to chat with the presenter; those without microphones used Second Life’s chat application to ask questions and offer comments.

The Second Life audience provided a glimpse of the potential of such presentations. The XBRL meeting was attended by CPAs in Connecticut, Indiana, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Texas and Virginia, as well as Frostburg, Baltimore and Kent Narrows in Maryland, all drawn by the ability to attend an out-of-town CPE session without leaving their offices.

It was much more than an experiment in virtual CPE, though. Presenter Greg Zegarowski of the Financial Leadership Corporation (and his counterpart in Second Life, Eric Cohen of PricewaterhouseCoopers; that’s Eric’s avatar in the photo above) offered a comprehensive look at XBRL and what the data-tagging technology means for businesses. And since the SEC is mandating that companies begin using XBRL to file their financial statements, it’s time for everyone to sit up and take note.

“This is something every company in the country will need to know,” Zegarowski said, “and they’ll need to know it fairly rapidly.”

So why should you consider using XBRL? Zegarowski offered nine reasons:

  1. It’s becoming the lingua franca of business reporting.
  2. It’s a universal standard, not just a fad.
  3. It’s a launch pad for the democratization of information.
  4. It encourages transparency.
  5. It improves data quality.
  6. It’s a time saver for data gathering and analysis.
  7. It allows business information to be reused and repurposed.
  8. It creates new opportunities for business intelligence.
  9. It allows you to help invent the future of business reporting.

“Plus,” he added with a laugh, “it’s a great cocktail party opening line.”

If you’re looking for more information about XBRL, these resources are great starting points:

Are you ready to make the leap to XBRL?

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