Federal bank regulators currently take 10 to 15 days to make public the quarterly financial data they collect from about 8,400 banks. They'd like to get that turnaround time down to a single day, and in June, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. initiated a $39 million project to make that happen.

The FDIC's proposed solution: XBRL, or eXtensible Business Reporting Language, which tags data so that it can be re-flowed into different formats without re-keying and thus without the risk of errors associated with re-keying. And now that the FDIC has discovered XBRL, analysts see it as only a matter of time before Corporate America begins to embrace this new mark-up language for financial reporting.

Is it inevitable that XBRL is adopted as the standard for business reporting? Inevitable may be a strong word, but given the increased pressure on companies to disclose financial data on accelerated timetables, XBRL has more than a good shot. "The FDIC award is pretty significant," says Rita Knox, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "I think that will do a lot to make people aware of what XBRL is."

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.