Nasdaq, PwC, Microsoft Team on XBRL

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-08-06 Print this article Print

Nasdaq, PwC and Microsoft launch program to allow companies to more easily trade financial information via the Internet.

The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday will launch a pilot program that allows companies to more easily communicate their financial information over the Internet and which helps investors more easily analyze this data. The pilot program uses Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), a new platform developed for corporate reporting over the Internet and which is based on XML, the universal format for data on the Web.
With XBRL, data is tagged to instruct the system how to handle the data in question and enables the user to locate the necessary information without leafing through numerous financial reports, said Mike Willis, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The pilot program, designed by PwC and stored on Nasdaq hardware, provides access to XBRL data through Microsoft Office. This data will be accessible through the Microsoft Excel interface via a custom solution built by Dell Professional Services. David Jaffe, the lead product manager for Microsoft Office in Redmond, Wash. told eWeek that XBRL and Excel had enabled "instant analytics" meaning that analysts could now access accurate information in real time using the tools they were already familiar with. "Furthermore, the ability to analyze the data is incredibly rich. For example, analysts could compare the balance sheets side by side of three different companies in a matter of seconds or view footnotes on a specific area across multiple quarters for a specific company," he said. Any interested individual or organization would simply use the add-in, which is accessed in the form of a freely downloadable Excel workbook for Microsoft Office. This would allow them to easily access and analyze the data, he said. "Users can then request any available data on any of the companies in the pilot, which comes in the form of an XML-based Web service that is consumed by the Excel workbook. All of this is transparent to users. They just request the data and see it appear in Excel. Excel becomes a type of digital sandbox in which they can work with this financial information any way they want," Jaffe said. Investors and analysts would thus no longer have to manually retrieve the data from individual financial documents. The pilot program, whose goal is to showcase XBRLs ability to allow easy comparisons of the financials of companies within a particular industry, will provide investors with remote access to financial data from the financial reports of 21 Nasdaq-listed companies, starting with a companys most recent financials and going back five years. The data is formatted in XBRL and publicly available via a Nasdaq-hosted Web Service. The pilot will include financial information from, among others, Intel Corp.; Broadcom Corp.; nVIDIA Corp.; Altera Corp.; Microchip Technology Inc.; Marvel Technology Group Ltd.; QLogic Corp.; Applied Micro Circuits Corp.; Semtech Corp. and Microsoft Corp. The Nasdaq will be actively recruiting Nasdaq-listed companies to participate in the pilot program, said Alfred Berkeley, the Nasdaq vice chairman. The stock market was committed to increasing transparency for investors, which would "ultimately help restore investor trust in the quality and integrity of the information that fuels the markets," he said. Microsofts Jaffe said the software firm was also a charter member of the XBRL consortium, which includes more than 170 of the worlds largest accounting, technology, government and financial services bodies devoted to developing and promoting XBRL.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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