Prior to the 1990s, large business relied heavily on its group financial ledger to integrate information across the company. Evidence of this can be seen in historical reporting (such as annual reports) from the era in which financial results are the main statement of the health of the company.
With the advent of much larger volumes of information, twenty-first-century reports still use the language of the financial ledger, but these reports now include much more sophisticated metrics. For instance, retailers can now provide information to shareholders about the comparable store sales by individual merchandise categories and mergers are able to be measured in detail as facilities are aggregated or realigned.
Just as dramatically, the advent of real-time information from operational processes across the enterprise has meant that it is possible for centralized executive management to apply direct control over a much wider scope of operation. This is one of the factors that have resulted in the consolidation of many businesses into much larger global operations.
During most of the twentieth century when management was undertaken as a hands-on exercise, human senses were the main vehicle for data collection. Executives could see if the factory floor was busy or note how many shoppers were walking the aisles. As business has gone global, teams are often virtual, with communication impeded by time zones, language, and national and organizational culture. ...