Two years ago almost to the day, EDGAR Online, an RR Donnelley company, struck agreements with three strategic providers that allowed it to create risk-return summaries in the eXtensible Business Reporting Language for mutual funds, which had to meet federal guidelines for interactive financial filings.
Money Management Executive recently spoke to EDGAR Online's Chief Technology Officer Greg Carter, who joined the company last November, about the company's latest initiative with long-time collaborator Microsoft to offer cloud services to mutual funds and his vision for the company going forward.
Can you give us some background on the company?
We have our XBRL processing business, a business processing outsourcing service we offer to a variety of companies to take regulatory filings and produce the required XBRL packages. So we'll take someone's 10-Q, 10-K and produce the requisite XBRL package for them to file along with their HTML filing. That business uses a prop platform and uses our XBRL processing engine called XPE, which is used by the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies around the world to render, validate and transform XBRL information.
We also taking regulatory filings and mutual fund statements that are submitted in both XBRL and non-XBRL format and turn those into information that can be used to do surveillance, analytics and build models.
How many mutual fund clients do you have?
We really have two types of mutual fund businesses. We have organizations that submit mutual fund statements to us to turn into data. And then we have customers on the consumer side of the data business that take that mutual fund data and use it in their own decision making.
On the mutual fund side, we are mostly U.S.-centric. When it comes to the XBRL software business, that's global. We're in Asia (Korea, Indonesia, Japan) and we're expanding in China. We have a variety of Asian banks that use our XBRL processing software to do validations of regulatory submissions.
What opportunities do you see in the mutual fund space going forward?
There's definitely continued opportunity. The regulations currently in place are really now fully in effect so that firms are submitting XBRL for the full extent of their core filings. But there is an even larger opportunity internationally throughout Europe, and Asia, which are all heavily exploring the use of XBRL.
Why did you join EDGAR and what's your vision for the company?
I joined EDGAR because I think the market around turning documents into actionable information is very exciting. By focusing on XBRL, hopefully the burden of regulation can be reduced on the submission of information and the data that's being submitted around that regulation can be increased. So as opposed to someone filing a static 10-K or 10-Q with the SEC, by filing an XBRL (doc) the value of that regulation increases exponentially because not only can the SEC be able to do surveillance, it's universities, external regulators and industry groups. I can now analyze the data of their peers when I'm doing a filing. When I'm doing financial and business forecasting, I have greater access to information. The burden of regulation doesn't necessarily change but the value of the information and the value of the exercise both to me and to other organizations increases dramatically.
I was brought in to help us make the migration from being primarily a services company to an enterprise software company. I've realigned the organization so that we have a commercial software production team that really takes on all of the nuance of building software that can live and thrive in an enterprise, and instead of having one version of our software installed within our own walls, we expect to have our software running in thousands of organizations around the world.
That's really resulted in changes in how we develop software and gather requirements and involving customers more in the requirements process. And coming up with ways to involve key customers as part of the release process. That's really what I've spent the last year working on. You see the fruit of that labor coming to bear with the release our self-service filing application called ActiveDisclosure.
What is ActiveDisclosure?
There's a growing trend in the market of customers wanting to create their own filings. They want to own the process and use tools like Microsoft Word and Sharepoint to create and manage that process. ActiveDisclosure leverages the Microsoft Office Platform, SharePoint and a variety of .NET technologies to deliver a very friendly way of producing not only the filing but also the associated XBRL (tags).
We're demystifying the creation of XBRL via add-ins to MS Word and integration with Excel. They can really tag something once and leverage it every quarter. ActiveDisclosure will also allow customers to validate their SEC filings with the SEC and by comparing them with their peers. That will give you an added level of assurance, reduce risks and give you more control and greater speed in getting your filings complete.
But just because you make something available as a cloud service, if you don't make it flexible enough and it isn't familiar to users, there's a lot of hesitation and lower level of adoption rate. So we're focused on allowing people to customize every aspect whether it's the template that they use inside of Word to the business process to how the user portal looks. All of that can be personalized.
What's on tap for 2013?
We're looking to expand the usage of our data through ActiveDocuments and ActiveFinancials, which are designed for tablets and mobile devices. They allow people to access core financial data for over 10,000 publicly traded companies in the U.S. regardless of where you are or whether you're in Excel or browsing the web on your iPad or Android devices, it'll give you access to what data so that you can quickly build functional models to compare different companies.