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Reference Model for Digital Financial Reporting

I have used the term logical model. Others have used the term conceptual model. And still others use the term reference model. Call it what you like, but to make digital financial reporting effective and efficient for business, another layer is needed above the complex XBRL technical syntax documented by the complex and technical XBRL Specification.

Evidence that such a model is necessary are things like the matrix schema created by the Bank of Italy, the logical model created by the US GAAP Taxonomy Architecture, the Business Reporting Logical Modeland Financial Reporting Logical Model which I worked on with the XBRL International Taxonomy Architecture Working Group for many months, and the comparison framework created by the Interoperable Taxonomy Architecture Group.

So what exactly is a reference model or conceptual model or logical model.  Wikipedia describes a reference model as having the following characteristics (paraphrasing):

Abstract: a reference model is abstract. The things described by a reference model are not actual things, but an abstract representation of things.

Entities and Relationships: A reference model contains both entities (things that exist) and relationships (how they interact with one another).

Within an environment: A reference model is used to clarify "things within an environment" or a problem space.

Technology Agnostic: A reference model is not useful if it makes assumptions about the technology or platforms in place in a particular computing environment. A reference model is a mechanism for understanding the problems faced, not the solutions involved, and as such, must be independent of the selected solutions in order to provide value to the practitioner.

I am not saying that what I have created in terms of an SEC XBRL financial filing logical model, clearly defining the report elements (i.e. entities) and relations between the report elements (i.e. relationships) is a reference model. But I think it might help show the utility of such a reference model and provides clues as to what such a model looks like.

What is clear to me though is that some reference model, logical model, conceptual model or whatever you want to call it; some additional layer is beneficial. Why else would so many different folks be approaching some sort of issue from such a variety of angles?

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