There are pivotal moments in our lives where we distinctly remember where we were at that moment, whether it was the first steps that Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin took on the moon, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, or more recently watching civilians like Sir Richard Branson defy gravity in space. These are moments where the boundaries between the impossible and possible become blurry, and our own humility and ambitions blend. Whilst these major worldwide events impact the hopes and aspirations of people around the world, there are other critical events in specific fields, like accounting, where these tectonic shifts in mindsets change the views and behaviors of future generations of accountants, investors, and technologists.
Digital Transformation Stands on the Shoulders of XBRL
Today, the buzzwords ‘digital transformation’ are being thrown about in corporate circles. Digital transformation is essentially the use of technology to create new, or improve existing, business processes to meet the changing business landscape and market demands. This current reimagining of business in the age of big data and technology seems to harken back to the early days of XBRL.
The XBRL standard started with a group of accountants who dreamt of a world where business information could be unlocked from a static, paper-based financial report. These pioneers had a vision to digitize financial reports, eliminate waste, and make information readily useful and available for all. Chairman Cox at the SEC at the time had the foresight to see the inevitability of digital transformation. He played a critical role in implementing the XBRL mandate for corporate financial reporting in the U.S.
Our team at idacti were inspired by these visionaries and we knew, at the time, that we wanted to support and build on the XBRL movement. From one angle: developing software to enable companies to ‘tag’ their own financial statements. From another: developing the first US GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy.
As XBRL evolved over the years we knew we wanted to be part of that “future-proof” ecosystem. That was how idaciti formed originally. We proved that our collective experience from our technology, XBRL taxonomy, and data modeling backgrounds was needed; to help investors and analysts easily consume and digest the XBRL data produced by companies. We are the technology connector between the companies and the stakeholders who consume their data.
The Audacity to Re-Imagine XBRL
Today, we stand at the crossroads of ‘digital transformation’ and a sea change in attitudes of the markets and corporate leaders. The demand for producing and consuming structured, relevant ESG information is more pronounced than ever before. Right now, CSR and ESG reports are not digital, they’re often in PDFs, and mostly, it’s difficult to structure without manual processes.
We are not, by any stretch of the imagination, ESG experts; we are boldly and ambitiously XBRL experts. We now stand on the shoulders of the early XBRL pioneers and embrace the audacity to re-imagine how XBRL could be used to help structure ESG data right now, today.
There are SASB and GRI XBRL taxonomies available for use, however, companies are not currently required to use these taxonomies to tag their ESG disclosures. We are hopeful that the time for this will come in the future. In the meantime, we’ve built a platform that leverages the XBRL framework to ‘XBRL-ize’ currently unstructured ESG information to transform it into machine-readable data.
We’ve used ML internally for years to structure data. Now clients use our platform to apply their knowledge to quickly and efficiently tag and electronically extract ESG information from SEC filings and CSR reports at scale. We built a platform that digitizes documents, parses and structures data embedded in the documents, and makes them available in a clean format for downstream data consumption.
Whether we deliver the data to investors, consultants, or data scientists, our technology organizes, structures, and “wrangles” for these experts to take the data and generate their insights. The new challenges we face in this evolving landscape requires us to constantly innovate to solve the problems of the now. Today, by tapping into our XBRL roots, we strive to be the connector between the ESG experts - helping them to unlock the ESG information in static reports to provide timely, structured ESG data to the investors, analysts and data scientists working on the biggest problems of the day.
This is the audacity of idaciti.