From today, interactive data suddenly became an important part of doing business. Today we launched EarningsDirect with Business Wire. This is a world first — an entirely new communications tool for investor relations and finance professionals. It allows companies’ all-important earnings data to be communicated to the media, market data services, analysts and investors in a format that can be instantly, accurately and unambiguously used in analysis and investment models.

Financial data first gets disseminated as an earnings release, in text format. This generally occurs two or three weeks before regulatory filings, like 10Q statements, are lodged with the regulators. A very few key numbers get punched into financial news stories and active investor models within a matter of 10 – 20 minutes of the earnings release being made available. And any number of market data services either key the information in at off-shore facilities in India or Eastern Europe or parse the information out of the text and into databases using fairly sophisticated software over the next hours and days. Naturally, and much to the horror of a lot of the accountants and controllers who sweat over the production of financial statements, in the process of all this manual wrangling, the data gets drastically summarised. Inevitably, mistakes creep in.

EarningsDirect changes all that. Selected information within the earnings release are disseminated simultaneously in XBRL format, which means that the information can be used without rekeying, re-parsing or manual manipulation of any sort. News stories can gulp down EBITDA, changes in revenue, earnings growth, SG&A improvements or the effect of a merger, instantly. Analysts’ models can absorb the base data that they need to calculate hundreds of ratios instantly. The really great thing about this new way of communicating, is that we can’t begin to work out all the ways that the market will use all this instant, accurate data!

Ok, great — how does it get turned into this magic format? It’s a pretty simple process. Business Wire clients download a Microsoft Excel template, fill it in and upload it to our software running on the Business Wire servers.

Clients get back a special Intelligent Financial Statement™, or IFS. An IFS is a special PDF file containing a range of CoreFiling proprietary technologies. It looks like a set of financials – tables setting out familiar information like a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow. But if you hover your mouse over a number in the document, TagTips™ tell you how the information has been marked up, or tagged, in XBRL. The data document itself is embedded right inside the PDF, accessible at a click of a button from within Adobe Acrobat Reader. As a result, the controller or CFO can gain complete confidence about the manner in which the information is being communicated to the market.

Once approved, this document – the Intelligent Financial Statement™, as well as the XBRL in its raw form, is disseminated, with the earnings release, simultaneously, to global capital markets by the Business Wire NX system, ready to be used.

It’s like corn on the cob. It’s better to eat it fresh, within seconds of it being picked, than the kind that’s washed in chemicals, cut down to a uniform size to fit into uniform packaging and then refrigerated or frozen and shipped over a period of days or weeks from somewhere you have trouble finding on the map. Both are recognizably corn. But the mass produced kind is missing quite a bit of its goodness and never tastes quite the same.

Won’t this just be a sub-set of the information in the earnings release, I hear you ask? It depends. There are three levels to the EarningsDirect service. Level 1 is a simple template, containing around 90 concepts, critical to almost every company. It’s free for the next two quarters of earnings. Business Wire client? Talk to your AE about EarningsDirect Level 1. Level 2 involves more detailed data, specific to certain sectors, ensuring comparability and accuracy for larger, as well as more specialized businesses. But Level 3 is a completely customised template. CoreFiling specialists create it to meet the communications objectives of each company. Clients can use the same template each quarter. Again, all the client needs to do is fill in the spreadsheet. So EarningsDirect is easy to use. Easy to understand. And makes sure that financial performance messages get across accurately, unambiguously and (did we mention?) instantly!

Lastly, some people will be wondering how analysts and media organisations can consume this data. Hint – some of them already can. For the others, it’s a simple exercise that provide a rich new seam of crucial investment information. Don’t know how? Talk to us, or (if you must) the other XBRL vendors. We can all help.

EarningsDirect. It’s powerful reporting made simple by CoreFiling. And Business Wire!