The Time is Right for Standardized Data

Early this summer, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, in cooperation with Certified General Accountants of Canada, submitted a brief to the Finance Minister as part of the pre budget consultations that always predate the formulation of a new budget for the national government. Together, the two organizations represent most of the professional accountants in the country.

In that brief, there were three major areas addressed, including a recommendation that the government explore the adoption of Standardized Business Reporting (SBR) using eXtensible Business Reporting (XBRL). This would be a major initiative under which all data being submitted to all departments would be in the same format. This approach would streamline the portability of data through and between the departments, and facilitate the automated analysis of such data. Several other countries are adopting this approach to data handling, including Australia and the Netherlands. Several EU and Asian countries are moving in that direction and the US Data Act contains elements of a similar approach.

All business people these days recognize the value of data. Indeed, business models are being redefined around the world to adapt to the new world of big data and data analytics. The proliferation of big systems like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems and Business Intelligence (BI) has led to the development of massive amounts of data. And, of course, the growth of social media, increasingly combined with mobile units like smartphones and tablets, has expanded the volumes of data to unprecedented levels. Now, business has available to it details of their customer movements, purchases, likes and dislikes, location and much more all of which present incredible business opportunities.

Finding ways to access, assimilate and analyze these data has led, for example, to extensions of the traditional CRM systems to become Social CRM, and BI Systems to Big Data Analytics. In fact, entire businesses are extending their business models to become Social Businesses. This has major implications for the strategic and managerial imperatives of those businesses, possibly, according to some futurists, rendering the flat organization as obsolete as the old pyramid structures and perhaps leading to the elimination of many C-Suite positions.

In short, it’s difficult to overplay the importance of data in the modern world.

Handling all of these data remains a challenge, especially across platforms, and one of the approaches is to try to standardize the data such that it can be easily transported and consumed. SBR is a way to standardize business oriented data. Starting with data that needs to be shared between business and government organizations is a logical and viable place to start.