The Big Data Headache — Can XBRL Ease the Pain?

Banks led the way in standardizing data collection, retrieval and staying compliant.

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and this is especially true when it comes to data. Companies, particularly banks, have a wealth of information at their fingertips, but until recently they lacked a basic method to harness this data and put it to better use.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recognized this untapped potential and, in 2009, mandated that all publicly held companies disclose their financial information using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) — a standardized method of data collection and reporting. XBRL could facilitate more accurate comparisons across companies to improve business performance, investment analysis and decision-making. More specifically, in 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S., the United Kingdom’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and Companies House in Singapore had begun to require companies to use XBRL, and other regulators were following suit. The SEC’s deployment was launched in 2010 in phases, with the largest filers going first: by 2013, the large foreign companies which use International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) were expected to submit their financial returns to the SEC using XBRL. In the UK in 2013, both HMRC and Companies House accepted XBRL in the iXBRL format.

One approach towards making data integration easier is Model Driven Reporting, or ModelDR.

XBRL was adopted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) of India for filing financial and costing information with the Central Government.

However, at this point, most companies see the XBRL mandate as a compliance headache rather than a value-added tool for analysis. An exception is the banking industry, which presents an excellent example of how XBRL can ease the Big Data headache through the creation of high-quality, consistent data.

Model Driven Reporting

Business reporting in large enterprises has issues and challenges:

  1. Order of magnitude increases in volume and complexity, especially for the finance sector
  2. Inconsistent and incompatible definitions, making reports incomparable and misleading
  3. The most critical information is hidden by too much low value information
  4. The process to generate reports is manual and error prone

What is ModelDR?

ModelDR is a model-driven tool for business report design and management. It separates the logic of what is required from the physical implementation, making both more efficient.

ModelDR specifically leverages the power of the business modeling tool MagicDraw UML, from NoMagic. MagicDraw is used by the world’s largest banks, governments, military establishments and many other enterprises. It enables the business domain to be modeled and for the autogeneration of artifacts like specifications, code and tests.

ModelDR extends this capability with:

  • A business report design framework, to the XBRL standard, from which reports can be designed and specified
  • A rules engine to enforce good report design
  • Design templates for common business reports, such as EU and SEC regulatory reports
  • Automatic imports of legacy reports, for reengineering
  • Automatic generation of business report specifications and code
  • Cross linking of reports and business domain data for guaranteed correctness

By supporting XBRL, ModelDR supports the global standard for business reporting, enabling integration with the great majority of the world’s regulators.

What does ModelDR give me?

ModelDR empowers data architects, business analysts, testers, auditors, finance managers and regulatory reporters with

1. Guaranteed data and report integrity

The hundreds and thousands of reports within an enterprise are complex. The supporting databases and systems are equally complex. To fill out the reports with data requires mapping them to the business systems. ModelDR:

  • Puts the reports and database designs in one place
  • Maps between the reports and the databases
  • Guarantee the quality of your reporting through the integrated validation rules

2. Agile development and modification of business reports

  • Being a graphical design tool means rapid and low cost design
  • With the visualization and design power you can design your own taxonomies for your enterprise

3. Low cost, correct systems

The structured nature of model-driven design makes it possible to automate many functions downstream of design. Combining it with the MagicDraw Model Driven Testing plugin, you can automate the generation of report specifications, reporting code, data loading, test cases, test data and test running.

4. User friendly understanding and design of complex business reports

ModelDR visualizes report taxonomies in a way other tools cannot. The structure is exposed and can be easily understood by many who are not experts. You can see the entities, dimensions, rules and mappings, for example in IFRS, SEC and US GAAP, as well as inhouse reports. The tool helps your enterprise visualize new report designs. The learning curve is reduced because the design is expressed visually.

ModelDR input from Greg Soulsby.

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