Digital By Design




An Evolution

Nielsen started our digital journey with Project Sync in 2014 to deliver Nielsen's digital enablement strategy, starting a journey to meet the future needs of our clients. This evolved into Digital at Nielsen, which encompassed changes like Going Google and The Connected System.

"It's not a project anymore, it's a movement to reshape our company."  -Mitch Barns


In our first eLearning module, you learned about Digital technology terms and concepts.

In the 2nd module, you built upon your knowledge, focusing on the impact of Digital Consumers and evolution of Big Data. 

In our 3rd module, we set the foundation for a change in mindset, highlight the value of being a digital disruptor and introduce digital ways of working. 

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

  • Understanding digital disruption and becoming comfortable with being a digital disruptor
  • Becoming familiar with the shift to a digital mindset
  • Considering how to adopt digital ways of working


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!

Digital at Nielsen

Digital at Nielsen

“With Project Sync, we are trying to figure out enablement and how technology can unleash our product strategy in a much bigger way.” – Karthik Rao

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

Our goal is to deliver:

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

Dimensions of Being Digital

In defining our journey to become a truly digital enterprise, we began by reviewing all the products we deliver for clients today and critically examined them against what being digital is. 

To evaluate how digital our products are, we developed the following six dimensions and the attributes that feed into those dimensions:

Based on the evaluation of these six dimensions, we determined the best starting point to focus our efforts and support Nielsen’s journey to be a digital enterprise.

Digital at Nielsen

  • Automation
  • Technology
  • Openness
  • Speed
  • User experience
  • Agility
  • Insights driven
  • Flexibility
What six dimensions of being digital did we evaluate to understand how digitally current our products are?

Digital at Nielsen

Want to learn more?

  • Click here to listen to Karthik Rao, EVP Digital Enablement, clarify what Project Sync is about, and what it isn’t.
  • Click here to listen to Karthik Rao recap how we are evaluating where we are and where we need to go in our digital enablement journey.

Digital Disruption

What is Digital Disruption?


Digital disruption refers to changes enabled by digital technologies that occur at a pace and magnitude that disrupt established ways of value creation, social interactions, doing business and, more generally, our thinking.

Threat or Opportunity?

Digital Disruption can be seen as both a threat and an opportunity:

  • Change happens at a pace and scale that impacts existing business practice in disruptive ways, challenging existing business models.
  • Digital technologies offer new opportunities for the creation of innovative business models, allowing entrepreneurs to compete with established business practices in a wide range of industries.


Digital disruption can occur on various levels.

Level of Disruption Example
Disruptions to individual life practices Mobile connectivity disrupts established work-life boundaries
Disruptions to work practices Narrating work via microblogging in the workplace changes what counts as (valuable) work
Disruptions to business practices Workplace social media disrupts the way information travels in the organization and induces shifts in power relationships
Disruptions to industry structures Digitization of media content and user-generated content disrupts traditional value chains of content production and delivery
Disruptions to societal systems Social media participation disrupts traditional practices of public opinion making

Digital Opportunity


Shift in Technological Trends

Accenture’s Technology Vision Report highlights six themes that reflect the current shifts in technological trends being used by the digital enterprises of the future. To learn about these themes, select each box:

Digital Opportunity

  • Architecting rigidity
  • Data supply chain
  • Developing disruption
  • Digital-physical blur
  • From workforce to crowdsource
Which of the following themes reflect shifts in technological trends used by digital enterprises?

A Glance at Digital Disruptors

Companies such as Twitter, YouTube and Airbnb have effectively emerged from startups to digital leaders within the last decade. Large established companies are beginning to transform themselves as leaders within the digital landscape. 

A look at companies who have successfully transformed into digital disruptors:

  • Tesco: Tesco, the U.K.’s largest supermarket chain, and the third largest in the world has created interactive grocery stores in airports and subway stations. The company has also expanded into new industries and now offers movie streaming, e-books, and even its own low-priced seven inch tablet. More than 20 percent of Tesco’s online sales now come through smartphones, and 10 percent of all orders from Tesco Direct come through its mobile website.
    Click here to read more on Tesco’s transformation.
  • General Motors (GM): General Motors is disrupting the car rental business by partnering with RelayRides, a startup whose use of mobile phones makes ride sharing easy. The partnership allows individual car owners to rent out their idle vehicles. Any GM car owner who lists his car on the RelayRides marketplace can link his OnStar and RelayRides accounts. This allows a borrower to reserve and unlock a GM car with nothing more than a mobile phone.
    Click here to read more on disruption in the auto industry.
  • Disney Theme Parks: Disney introduced the MyMagic+ system, which provides visitors with a smartphone app and a radio-frequency-enabled wristband called the MagicBand. The wristband acts as a ticket, room key and credit card, allowing visitors to book rides in advance and charge meals with the “touch to pay” technology. Visitors wearing the MagicBand are offered a personalized guest experience with much less waiting. 
    Click here to read more on Disney’s transformation.
  • GE: GE is building cloud-based services with intelligent analytics so that it can collect and combine vast amounts of industrial-machine data and equipment data, extracting unique insights that it can use to set new performance standards in major industries such as energy and aviation.
    Click here to read more on GE’s transformation.

Digital Disruption

Reflection: Disrupted to Disruptor

Re-examine the role you play at Nielsen and within our industry. How will you become a digital disruptor?


Want to learn more?

  • Click here to check out Mitch Barns' blog post on “Riding the Disruption Wave”.
  • Click here to listen to a podcast on digital disruption from Forrester Research.
  • Click here to see CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list, featuring private companies with revolutionary innovations.
  • Click here to view a brief Ted talk on how large companies can better channel change and continue to thrive.

Digital Mindset Shift

What is a Digital Mindset?

Digital-thinking is an evolution. It’s about using new technologies as a foundation to refine processes.


Not surprisingly, there are challenges to evolving into a digital enterprise. As illustrated in Altimeter’s State of Digital Transformation infographic, one of those challenges is changing company culture. A true digital enterprise requires an adoption of an entirely new mindset. 

A digital mindset is very different from a traditional mindset. It is open and evolving. Organizations adopting this shift constantly experiment, innovate, learn and optimize. The digital world thrives on entrepreneurial spirit and values where culture guides an organization more effectively.
Stephen Johnson in ‘The Third Place Manifesto’ appropriately describes a core premise of the digital mindset: “We live our lives in a perpetual state of beta.”


Want to learn more?

Click here to view a brief video highlighting 3 steps towards developing a digital mindset.

Keys to a Digital Mindset

The digital mindset comes in a variety of dimensions. Forbes featured an article from IESE Business School in which the authors have found at least five important dimensions that make up the digital mindset.

Keys to a Digital Mindset


Have you begun making the shift to a digital mindset? If not yet, consider how you might start!

Want to learn more?

Click here to read a blog post on thriving in the digital workplace.
Click here to read an article on the benefits of digitally-led thinking for business.

Keys to a Digital Mindset

  • Implement radical changes yet disregard cultural shifts
  • Sustain yet disrupt
  • Give up control yet architect choices
  • Ensure market longevity yet avoid disruption
  • Be skeptical yet open-minded
  • Rely on data yet trust your intuition
  • Provide vision yet empower others
What five dimensions make up the digital mindset?

Digital Ways of Working

Agile Working


The Agile Manifesto was first introduced in 2001 and outlined four principles (1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. 2. Working software over comprehensive documentation. 3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. 4. Responding to change over following a plan) that are still very relevant today. Agile is a new way of working that isn’t just about following a process.

Paul Allsopp from the Agile Organisation describes agile working as ‘bringing people, processes, connectivity and technology, time and place together to find the most appropriate and effective way of working to carry out a particular task. It is working within guidelines (of the task) but without boundaries (of how you achieve it).”

An important element of digital transformation is the ability for employees to adopt agile working practices that allow the business to adapt more quickly and take advantage of new opportunities.


  • Reduced waste
  • Increased speed
  • Lower cost
  • Improved decision making
  • Improved confidence


  • Click here to view a brief video of Karthik Rao, EVP Digital Enablement, talking about the notion of agile.
  • Click here to view a brief video explaining the agile approach.
  • Click here to read more on the importance of being agile within the digital space.
  • Click here to read more on benefits of agile working.


BPI and Agile

At Nielsen, our Business Process Improvement (BPI) Team leverages agile ways of working to:

  • Optimize operating systems to deliver improvement goals
  • Align management infrastructures to embed the change
  • Build capabilities and shift mindsets to ensure sustainability

BPI helps clients and business leaders solve their hardest business problems through transformational operational excellence and innovation.


What kind of digital worker are you? Take this quiz to find out.


Click here to check out Nielsen’s Smart Tool Series, offering everyday BPI tools to help you work smart.
Click here to learn more about Nielsen’s BPI Team.

Digital Resilience


The digital evolution has brought many successes, but also requires the need for enterprises to be resilient in failure. The concept of ‘fail fast’ may be difficult to accept, yet there are many positives to this approach. ‘Fail fast’ has been utilized in start-ups and software development for years. It means the practice of conducting quick, cheap experiments to gain invaluable insights to hypotheses in order to rethink, close the loop and ultimately “pivot” or change course based on integrating the new lessons into the model.

This practice has been adopted by companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Etsy. According to Accenture’s Technology Vision report, the rationale to adopt this fail fast approach is simple: "As organizations migrate toward digital, every aspect of their business is becoming increasingly interconnected and automated…True resilience is what will help organizations mitigate risks to revenue and brand reputation caused by service disruptions."



Netflix has grown from nothing to servicing over 50 million members in 40 countries. One of the most successful websites in the world, Netflix achieved this success by using a fast iterative design approach. In the company’s early stages, the web design team would make significant design changes every 2 weeks. They understand that some of the changes will work, but most won't. Much of what they do try doesn't survive to the next iteration. 

At first, this sounds like a frustrating design constraint. However, the design team didn’t feel frustrated. Instead, they were free to be flexible and adaptive, so they could react effectively to customer needs. They're building for the present  all the time.


Two recent product pullbacks introduced by Amazon were recognized as failures quickly. Amazon shut down its private-label diaper product (only six weeks after launch) and withdrew its mobile wallet (six months after a prominent rollout). 

Amazon acknowledged the failures through a released statement saying they learned a great deal from the beta programs and the company will look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as they continue to innovate on behalf of their customers.


Failure isn’t just an option, it’s practically a requirement at Google. AdSense and Google Answers were both uncharted territory for the company. While AdSense grew to be a multi-billion-dollar business, Google Answers (which let users post questions and pay an expert for the answer) was retired after four years. Google learned a lot in that time, and were able to apply the knowledge they had gathered to the development of future products. If Google had been afraid to fail, they never would have tried Google Answers or AdSense, and missed an opportunity with each one.

Did you know?

'Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough' – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO Facebook

Digital Ways of Working

  • True
  • False
One of the key principles of agile working is processes and tools over individuals and interactions.

Digital Ways of Working

  • True
  • False
Benefits of agile working include reduced waste, increased speed and improved productivity.

Digital Ways of Working

Want to learn more?

  • Click here to read how losing can help you win.
  • Click here to read more about how Amazon fails fast.
  • Click here to read about Google’s Eight Pillars of Innovation.

Digital Achievement

Activity: Ready for our Digital Evolution?

Click here to head to the NLSN Digital Google+ community for a quick chat with your colleagues. Share your thoughts on your experience with digital disruption and how you will prepare to shift to a digital mindset.


What's Next - What You Can Do!

Congratulations on reaching this point in your digital journey!

The digital ecosystem continues to evolve and you are encouraged to carry on with your own journey by reading articles, following though leaders via social media and staying current with the latest news.


Want to learn more?

Click here to read more on digital disruption.


Continue the Conversation Online

Remember you can stay up to date with Nielsen's digital evolution and access the resources listed in this course at any time on the NLSN Digital Google+ Community.