Research & Innovation

Stevens Institute of Technology Hosts XBRL Research Workshop to Change the Way the World Views Business Data

Hoboken, N.J. – With the explosion of big data and information technology in the financial markets, Stevens researchers are leading the charge to change the way the world views business data.

At the 2013 XBRL Research Workshop, a one-day conference held on Nov. 9, 2013 at Stevens, experts from academia, the financial services sector, the investment community and regulatory agencies collaborated on the development and usage of eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) technology.

XBRL is a digitized format which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandates publicly traded corporations use to exchange and share financial information with the public, including investors, regulators and financial researchers.

While delivering data in XBRL is intended to make financial information more relevant, timely and reliable, the lack of analytical tools to interpret the data and make it user-friendly and easily decipherable has called the usefulness of the XBRL format into question.

The Stevens workshop united public and private researchers specializing in accounting, finance, statistics, economics, financial engineering, information engineering, computer science, systems engineering and related fields to collaborate on tools, technologies and services which would improve XBRL disclosure quality, build confidence in data integrity, and facilitate better understanding and utilization of financial information disclosed by XBRL.

The workshop included panels on financial information quality, financial services and investment innovation through XBRL, and XBRL for regulation.

Keynote speeches were given by Dr. John Casti, director the X-Center, a private research institute which develops tools to study, predict and protect against extreme events, and Dr. Walter Hamscher, an XBRL strategist at the SEC’s Office of Interactive Disclosure, who was one of the masterminds behind the creation of this technological innovation.

Dr. Steve Yang, assistant professor in the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens, was the lead organizer of the workshop. Yang is leading a Stevens research project hosted at the Hanlon Financial Systems Center to create an XBRL infrastructure system which applies various analytic techniques, such as statistics and data mining, to publicly available financial disclosure information. The system will provide a platform for investors to use meaningful analytic results for better-informed decision making, and for the academic community to conduct financial disclosure-related research.

“I called the XBRL journey ‘the XBRL Marathon’ during my opening speech at the conference, and I challenged the attendees to work together to finish the last six miles of this race”, said Yang. “This analogy resonated very well with many attendees. Yes, it is going to be tough and challenging for the last six miles. However, I strongly believe that it takes a collective effort and collaboration across the board to make it happen. It is my goal to make Stevens a place where the regulators and the investment community can meet to make things happen. I am very happy to say that we achieved more than just the goal we set out at the beginning. Many collaboration intents have started to take shape, and many attendees are looking forward to the next year’s conference.”

Stevens partnered on the workshop with Columbia University, the University of Virginia, Fordham University, Northrop Grumman and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense, STEM education and coastal sustainability. The university is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs and mid-career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.