Invoke, a French software company internationally renowned for its expertise in regulatory reporting and XBRL, was one of the first non-US companies to lend its support to the ground-breaking work being done by the Data Transparency Coalition (DTC) as regards advocating for the standardization of U.S. federal data published online. Given the U.S. focus of the DTC’s activity, it may seem odd that a European company like Invoke should be so keen to be involved, but dig a little deeper and all becomes clear.
Even if the DTC is ‘born in the USA’, the issues it defends are of global importance, and concern citizens and corporations the world over. Against a backdrop of international economic upheaval, repeated financial scandal and a growing chasm of distrust between citizens and their political representatives, the creation of the DTC highlights the pressing need to eliminate opacity and enhance accountability at every level of government.
Inspired by the Open Data policies of the Obama Administration, the French government recently launched an Open Data portal, which offers free access to large quantities of data that was not easily accessible before.
What is clear is that public data is a resource — a new and valuable raw material. In order to fully reap the benefits of platforms like data.gouv.fr in France and data.gov in the US, it is imperative that public data not only be made freely accessible, but also digitally and on-line using open standards such as XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) that are machine-readable.
Without data standardization, citizens, members of the media, watchdog groups, and even government agencies themselves have no means of easily searching the information to identify spending patterns or waste, fraud, and abuse. In a European context, standardized data is a prerequisite for the interoperability necessary for supporting cross-border public services and harmonized prudential supervision in the banking and insurance sectors.
Citizens around the world need their administrations to be open and accessible, and close collaboration between both government and broad industry initiatives are needed to make it happen.
In France for example, Invoke is heavily involved in similar efforts, chairing the Open Data Commission backed by the National Association of Software Developers (AFDEL). As traction and momentum grow on both sides of the Atlantic, it is to be hoped that industry and lobby groups in other jurisdictions will rally to the cause, emulating the work undertaken by the DTC.
At Data Transparency 2013, Invoke will be demonstrating how to leverage cutting-edge technology to make it easy for non-technical users to exploit and extract business-relevant information from mass volumes of XBRL data that, without analysis, would be effectively devoid of value.
By challenging commonly accepted technological boundaries, Invoke proves that the value proposition of XBRL extends far beyond being just a standardized format for data transportation. Leveraging the power inherent in the XBRL specification while masking the technical complexity, Invoke offers cutting-edge tools capable of satisfying advanced XBRL data collection, validation and analytical requirements without requiring any hardcoding or specific maintenance.
Realizing the ultimate vision of the DTC will take time and commitment, but there are significant gains that can easily be made. The good news is that the technology needed to make it all happen already exists, and as they say ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’.