XML refers to Extensible Markup Language and is a language and system that defines rules for document encoding and translation into machine readable formats. The XML standard attempts to create a simple, text formatted language that is readable by people, yet provides context to software programs.
For example, in finance, XML is used in the filings of financial documents and is called XBRL. Annual reports and other financial documents are filed in XBRL, which allows for standardization of company financial data and ratios. For example, if a company transmits only a text formatted document or a simple spreadsheet, a computer can read the data, but not understand the context of that data. With XBRL, a datapoint is given meta-textual reference, so that a computer understands what that datapoint represents.
Within HR software programs, XML also promises to transform the delivery and readability of data. The HR XML Consortium advocates for the use of standardized XML protocols for use in Human Resource applications. When HR-XML is used, different HR software platforms can “talk” to each other without separate integration and translation mechanisms. Additionally, a common framework for HR data allows for easier bench-marking and delivery of metrics across an organization.