SEC unveils IDEA as the successor to form-based EDGAR database
19 August 2008
By Darrell Heaps
Earlier today the SEC Chairmen, Christopher Cox unveiled the successor to the form based EDGAR database.?? The new system is called IDEA (Interactive Data Electronic Applications) and will be built on an XBRL based platform that will give investors access to faster and more detailed financial information than ever before.
IDEA is the latest in a string of significant announcements that have come out of the SEC including, XBRL mandate and the guidance on web disclosure and RegFD. There have already been a number of posts regarding this announcement and it seems to be well covered by the financial media (see bottom of IR Web Report?s post – SEC unveils IDEA ? and that?s all it is).?
During the webcast Chris Vickerson, our CTO was involved in FT Alphaville?s liveblog? discussion and also had one of his question answered by Christopher Cox.? After the web cast the SEC home page was updated with a significant focus on IDEA. From the link on the home page there is an overview of IDEA that I?ve summarized below (emphasis is mine):
IDEA will at first supplement and then eventually replace the EDGAR system, which will become an archive of SEC filings made prior to the new era of financial reporting in interactive data format. The SEC has formally proposed requiring U.S. companies to provide financial information using interactive data beginning as early as next year, and separately has proposed requiring mutual funds to submit their public filings using interactive data.
The decision to replace EDGAR marks the SEC?s transition from collecting government-prescribed forms and documents to making the information itself freely available to investors in a user-friendly format they can readily use. Instead of sifting through one form at a time in EDGAR and then re-keyboarding the information to analyze it, investors will be able to utilize interactive data to instantly search and collate information to generate reports and analysis from thousands of companies and forms through IDEA.
The ease with which interactive data will make financial information more readily available also is expected to generate many new Web-based services and products for investors. IDEA?s launch represents a fundamental change in the way the SEC collects and publishes company and fund information ? and in the way that investors and the markets will be able to use it.
Although there was nothing materially new announced during today?s webcast (no new technology or application were shown), IDEA is an important when viewed in the context of how disclosure is going to evolve over the next 5 years. The timetable to full maturity is 5 years out, and while it is being phased in EDGAR will remain an important component of the financial disclosure system. However, if we fast forward to market adoption of XBRL and IDEA there will be many new ways that companies will create and distribute disclosure to the market and there will be all sorts of new applications and methods for investors to benefit from this data. It certainly is an exciting time for our industry and we are very pleased to see the leadership Christopher Cox has shown in bringing the SEC into the age of the Internet.
Some Additional information on Interactive Data: