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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Interactive Data:
Putting Technology to Work for American Investors

What is Interactive Data?

Put simply, interactive data means using technology to provide investors with quicker access to the information they want, in a format they can most easily use. Today, publishers of financial information offer a wealth of data about stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Unfortunately, investors seeking financial information direct from the source must often attempt to read lengthy corporate annual reports or mutual fund prospectuses. Even if these documents are online, they are often digital blobs with limited search capability.

And whether it's the individual investor or an employee at a financial publisher who's poring over a company report, the need to manually review such documents is a time consuming process.

Interactive data pinpoints all of the facts and figures trapped in these dense documents, allowing investors to immediately pull out exactly the information they want, and instantly compare it to the results of other companies, performance in past years, industry averages — however the investor wishes to slice and dice the data. Sophisticated tools to analyze financial data could be developed and become available to the average investor. Meanwhile, for the financial pros and financial publishers, analyzing companies could become cheaper and easier, as inputting and re-keying costs are lower and resources are freed to focus on creating better analytical tools.

How does it work?

Instead of reading a dense document and manually identifying relevant data, interactive data allows the creation of documents that are machine-readable, so that computers can quickly extract the desired data. Think of every fact in an annual report, every number in a company's financial statements, as having a unique barcode that tells standard software what the item represents and how it relates to other items in the report. Interactive data "tags" all of the key facts in these large documents, so that software can instantaneously recognize them and serve them up to the investor.



Modified: 06/03/2009