Evaluation of Current and Future State of XBRL 

Columbia Business School’s Center for Excellence in Accounting and Security Analysis (CEASA) issued a paper titled, An Evaluation of the Current and Future State of XBRL and Interactive Data for Investors and Analysts.

The paper reviews the state of XBRL and interactive data with a focus on their utility for security analysis. The project involved discussions with and surveying of XBRL stakeholders including preparers, regulators, analysts and investors, XBRL developers, and data aggregators.  The results of the study concludes that in the authors’ view, XBRL has succeeded in so far as the objective of providing users with free, interactively-available numerical data from portions of published financial statements and footnotes, as soon as they are filed with the SEC. However, this access has not translated into ongoing current use by investors and analysts for many reasons which the report articulates in more detail.  The paper provides the following general conclusion and recommendations. 

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  • Analysis of companies will continue to be based off increasing amounts of data that are structured and delivered to users in an interactive format.
  • However, widespread use of the XBRL will not occur until XBRL stakeholder focus on improving the data’s reliability and the consumption tools improve to allow users to access the data without disruptions to current workflows.
  • Significant reduction to error rates and unnecessary extensions (company-specific data tags) in XBRL submissions through greater regulatory oversight
  • Improvements to the underlying taxonomy for simplification and easier utility
  • Focus on getting state of the art tools for consumption


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