In AD 20, Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
's game-changing Orbis Terrarum
was posthumously published. Only reconstructions remain but Agrippa's map set the cartographic scene for centuries.
Most telling in Agrippa's interpretation of the world was his focus on the strategic at the expense of geographical accuracy. In contrast to Greek culture at that time, creating a practical tool for military expansion was all that he and his imperial colleagues were interested in.
Business analysis strategy
So with strategy in mind, it's not too great a leap to mention in the same breath Bureau van Dijk's Orbis
, a database of private companies from around the world.
Built with similar – if not military – objectives in mind, Orbis is designed to aid users' strategy, be it in assessing credit risk
, business development
or any number of other tasks that need access to accurate and easy-to-interpret information on private companies, their financials, their directors and their corporate ownership structures.
Last month, almost exactly 2000 years after Agrippa's Orbis was first made available on a stone interface, our very own tablet-friendly Orbis hit the 200 million
We hope you'll excuse such grand comparisons, as we're very proud of reaching this milestone, and it's not been without hard graft.
The story behind this
How have we managed it?
In the past year, we've both sourced new information providers, and new content from existing partners, and we've expanded in places like Latin America, coverage of which has tripled, and in China.
"We're constantly proactive about new data sources," says Louise Green, Bureau van Dijk's global marketing director. "There's a real appetite for international company information and we're working to deliver it."
It's a story that goes back to the 1990s, for which we provide an absorbing overview in our recent white paper, Untangling the world of private company information
The white paper discusses the availability of private company information around the world, examining:
Why different countries have such varied filing requirements;
The influence of "open" and "closed" cultures; and
The complex process of gathering data.
Its appendix details the private company filing requirements of a selection of economically and historically significant countries.