IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) recently published a report advocating for a data revolution that would transform business reporting, oversight, auditing, and monitoring systems.

The 26-page report, “A Digital Transformation Brief: Business Reporting in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” encourages standards setters, businesses, policymakers, and other stakeholders to trigger a data revolution by liberating data currently locked in siloed reports and platforms. 

The report includes a foreword from IMA President and CEO Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE; it is co-authored by Liv A. Watson, senior director of strategic customer initiatives at Workiva and IMA Global Board member; Dermot Murray, general manager of EMEA at Workiva; Tanuj Agarwal and Urmish Mehta, lead research team members at Workiva; Deborah Lelpziger, managing director at The Leipziger Group; and David Wray, senior director, accounting and reporting, at Huawei.

In the report, the authors observe that increasingly complicated and fragmented regulatory environments make compliance overly burdensome for businesses while also inhibiting investors and other users of corporate reporting from obtaining useful information. In the midst of the global pandemic, where access to quality data from remote locations is paramount, the need for a solution is even more critical.  

“IMA has long recognized how trustworthy, auditable, accessible, machine-readable information is critical to modernizing the corporate reporting process,” said Thomson. “Taking action through the steps outlined in the report will greatly simplify compliance and ensure both financial and nonfinancial information can be used to enhance business decision making.”

The report outlines several steps that must be followed in order to fully digitalize compliance and reporting processes:

  • Establish a stakeholder task force committed to the digital transformation of regulatory reporting. 
  • Ensure standards setters, framework developers, and best practices are committed to the repository as the authority of digital taxonomies for industry bodies of knowledge around reporting and compliance. 
  • Prepare a high-level solution blueprint for implementing a global digital framework within products. Use a high-level understanding of the regulatory ecosystem and its scope with a view to assessing the value that digital transformation programs provide to both policymakers and regulatory authorities. 
  • Ensure software vendors and service providers develop a prototype implementation to test mapping and lodgment of the reporting requirements.

“Through the creation of a universally common approach to exchanging and reusing regulated data, we can significantly lower compliance costs and reduce risks,” said Watson. “The technology now exists. The next step is getting all stakeholders on the path to a solution.”

Read the full report here.