Understanding Digital Technology





In this course, you will begin your digital journey by:

  • Becoming familiar with the goals and objectives of Nielsen's Digital Journey
  • Understanding what digital means overall to Nielsen, our clients & to you
  • Learning the key digital terminology & adopting an exploratory mindset to continue learning beyond this course


You will explore topics by:


You can navigate through your digital journey in any order you'd like. Simply use the home icon in the top left corner.

Let's get started!

What is Digital?

What is Digital?


Want to learn more?
Click here to read an article to understand what going digital means from a business standpoint.

Introduction to Digital Terminology

Introduction to Digital Terminology

In this lesson, you'll be introduced to the terms used in a digital enterprise. Many of you are familiar with these, as you use them in your day-to-day job. As you explore them, think about how Nielsen leverages digital technology today and how we can leverage it in the future. Understanding these terms, no matter your Nielsen role, will help us accelerate our evolution.

Let's get started!

Cloud Computing

The practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer.



Reflection: How does Nielsen leverage cloud computing?

We leverage Google Drive as our online storage and synchronization service. If you need help getting started, click here for instructions on the Living Google resource site. 

Did you know?

“It’s called cloud computing because the old programs to draw network schematics surrounded the icons for servers with a circle. A cluster of servers in a network diagram had several overlapping circles, which resembled a cloud.” Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg, How Google Works (New York: Grand Central, 2014) 15, note 10.


Want to learn more?
Click here to read a PC Mag article on cloud computing.

Cloud Computing

  • True
  • False
True or False:
An Apple iPad is an example of cloud computing.

Cloud Services

There are four main categories of cloud computing services.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Data as a Service (DaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

IaaS is considered the fundamental building block for cloud services. It is a category of cloud computing in which on-demand processing, storage or network resources are provided to the customer. Sold on-demand with limited or no upfront investment for the end-user, consumption is readily scalable to accommodate spikes in usage. Customers pay only for the capacity that is actually used (like a utility), as opposed to self-hosting, where the user pays for system capacity whether it is used or not.


  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Windows Azure
  • Google Compute Engine
  • Rackspace Open Cloud
  • IBM SmartCloud Enterprise


Want to learn more?
Click here to see a simple infographic explaining IaaS.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Another category of cloud computing services, PaaS provides a way to rent hardware, operating systems, storage and network capacity over the Internet. This structure frees users from having to install in-house hardware and software to develop or run a new application.

PaaS is a newer category of services and was designed to develop and deploy cloud apps.


Public PaaS vendors:

  • Salesforce Heroku
  • AWS Elastic Beanstalk
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Engine Yard

Private PaaS vendors:

  • Apprenda
  • VMware owned Pivotal
  • Red Hat Openshift



Want to learn more?
Click here to read a TechTarget article on PaaS's role in the "as a service" family.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

A software distribution model where applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet. This can also be referred to as "on-demand software."


SaaS is essentially the consumer layer of cloud computing and includes web applications that run through the browser, such as Gmail, Office 365, Quicken.com, etc…

Several key characteristics at the foundation of the SaaS model of software delivery include:

  • Centralized Hosting/Delivery
  • Uniform Platform for Delivery
  • Open Collaboration/Sharing


Want to learn more?
Click here to read more about SaaS and how the key SaaS characteristics differ from the traditional software model.

Data as a Service (DaaS)

A cloud strategy- useful data can be supplied to users on demand, irrespective of organizational or geographical separation between consumers and providers.



  • Ability to move data easily between platforms
  • Preservation of data integrity
  • Ease of administration
  • Ease of collaboration
  • Global accessibility
  • Automatic updates



Want to learn more?
Click here to read a TechTarget article providing more detail on DaaS.
Click here to read an article on the world's top 10 most innovative companies in big data. Think about how to get Nielsen on the list.

Cloud Services

  • Platform as a Service (PaaS)
  • Data as a Service (DaaS)
  • Enterprise as a Service (EaaS)
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
  • Software as a Service (SaaS)
From the list below, select the four main categories of cloud computing services.  

Application Program Interface (API)

API is a set of routines, protocols and tools for building software applications. Essentially, API is code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other.



Reflection: Does Nielsen offer any APIs?

Yes! Nielsen Twitter TV APIs deploy the most comprehensive Twitter capture services in the market to power social TV applications for tablets, smartphones, connected TV apps and set-top boxes.

Click here to learn more about Nielsen's suite of APIs.


Want to learn more?
Click here to see more popular API examples.
Click here to review a simple analogy "APIs and You" on page 2 of this article.

Application Program Interface API

  • True
  • False

True or False:
API is code that allows two software programs to communicate with each other.

Big Data

Big Data describes exponential growth and information availability in our digital world.


The 3 Vs


Big Data is sorted into two broad types:

  • Structured Data is organized in a mechanical and manageable way (e.g. Nielsen’s panel data). It can be searched and integrated with relative ease.
  • Unstructured Data is raw and unorganized. It includes data from natural language, images, and video that are more cumbersome and costly to analyze (e.g. sentiment of social media posts).

Big Data often presents challenges – the sheer volume makes discerning the signal from the noise challenging. Many big data sets, although census-style, are incomplete and not fully representative of the population.

How does it work at Nielsen?

For Nielsen, consumers watch and buy in an ever-growing number of ways. More Internet-connected devices mean more unstructured data. Big Data analytics seek to produce actionable insights from these complex “data exhausts,” or the information produced often inadvertently by greater interconnectivity.

Nielsen's “Big Data-style” products include Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings, Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, Nielsen Buyer Insights, and Nielsen Catalina Solutions. Each solution measures consumer activity using census data from real transactions/interactions.

Examples of Big Data Processes are

  • Data Extracts: The process of retrieving data from a data source (usually an unstructured data source) for further processing or storage.
  • Data Harmonization: The process of providing data in a clear and comparable format that can be integrated with client data.

Big Data

  • Unstructured Data
  • Inconsumable Data
  • Consumable Data
  • Structured Data
What are the two broad types of Big Data?

Data Federation Technology

Data Federation Technology is software that provides an organization with the ability to aggregate data from disparate sources in a virtual database, so it can be used for business intelligence (BI) or other analysis. 

Rather than collect all the information in a database, data federation collects metadata—data that described the structure of the original data—and places it into a single database. Data federation gives users access to third-party data without having to go to the trouble and expense of full data integration or data warehouse creation.

There are various types of approaches that use data federation technology, including data virtualization and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).


Want to Learn More?

Click here to read a TechTarget article providing more detail on data federation technology.
Click here to understand the difference between data federation, data virtualization and data integration.

Data Federation Technology

  • True
  • False
True or False:
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is an example of an approach that uses data federation technology.

Digital at Nielsen Overview

Digital at Nielsen

Digital at Nielsen is about leveraging technology to transform Nielsen into a more digital enterprise. By becoming a more digital company, Nielsen can make business decisions with new levels of speed, flexibility, integration and openness.

Our goal is to ultimately deliver four key solutions.

  1. Differentiated data and predictive analytics at the right time for clients to drive precision activation
  2. Robust tools and automation that increase Nielsen stickiness with clients & create capacity for higher-value client facing activities
  3. Seamless integration within products, with client systems and 3rd parties
  4. A more contemporary client and associate experience

Why is Nielsen Becoming a Digital Enterprise?

Why is Nielsen Becoming a Digital Enterprise?

Consumer behavior is changing rapidly as a result of devices and digital technology. Our clients are also experiencing and adapting to this disruption by leveraging technology and information/insights to create competitive advantage.

We have to be in-sync with all of this to help our clients win. 

Becoming “Digital” means transforming our technical architecture and product sophistication to enable new levels of speed, flexibility, integration and openness.




Want to learn more?
Click here to listen to Karthik Rao, EVP Digital Enablement, discuss Digital behind the scenes at GLM 2015.
Click here to view a five-minute video where McKinsey director Paul Wilmott explains how companies can successfully transition to becoming digital enterprises.

Why is Digital Important to Our Clients?

Why is Digital Important to Our Clients?

The pace of digital evolution is accelerating. "Connected consumers" are changing the world, with significant implications to our clients.

Our clients must adapt to the consumer's digital life while balancing multiple priorities:

Adapt to consumers

Adapt to the economy

Embrace software, algorithm & big data innovation



Want to learn more?
Click here to listen to Karthik Rao, EVP Digital Enablement, discuss Project Sync and Nielsen's role in helping our clients navigate the digital journey in winning with consumers.
Click here to read an article on competing in the digital age.

Digital Achievement

Activity: What Does Digital Mean to You?

Click here to head to the NLSN Digital Google+ community for a quick chat with your colleagues. Share your thoughts on what digital means to you. 

What's Next?

What's Next — What You Can Do!

Congratulations on reaching this point in your digital journey!

As digital continues to evolve, you are encouraged to carry on with your exploration. 

Next Steps

Here are some steps you can take to continue your digital journey:

  1. Understand Our Strategy- What it is and it isn't. What it means for your business and what it means for your teams.
  2. Focus on an Outside-in Approach- Have conversations with your stakeholders and clients to understand how technology enablement is transforming their industries.
  3. Drive Positive Change- Empower your team to move forward with you; identify opportunities that will boost our progress; look for digital saaviness in new talent; ensure your digital leadership is authentic.
  4. Be Intellectually Curious- Pursue education; learn the terminology; know the trends; study market leaders; get a reverse mentor. 

Additional Resources

Internalize the strategy: 
Use technology to transform Nielsen into a more digital company - so we can help our clients make business decisions with new levels of speed, flexibility, integration and openness.

  • Click here to join digital discussions with your colleagues.




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