The world of retail is transforming. E-commerce and technology are evolving how consumers interact with stores and brands—especially in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector. In fact, current and advancing technology are facilitating this change more quickly than at any previous point in history, and that means the pace of challenge for businesses—especially large multinational manufacturers—is unprecedented.
For many, the scenario is daunting. For Liz Buchanan, our VP of sales engineering, it’s exciting. Not only is she heavily involved in advancing technology at Nielsen, her current role places her right at the intersection of tech and the FMCG sector—and working to deliver rich data sets to help solve the challenges that many FMCG players are facing.
“There’s no question that it’s a complex time for companies and our clients,” she says. “The rate of change is rapid, and everyone is looking for growth, but the dynamics are unlike any we’ve seen in recent times. To get ahead, businesses need the power of big data, and that data needs to be connected. In the end, the most connected companies win.”
And for Nielsen, Liz stresses that being connected goes hand-in-hand with being open.
“Openness is a true differentiator in today’s market,” says Liz. “It’s also a core tenant of our strategy and development philosophy because we know clients increasingly need access to an array of data and analytics, and they need the ability to combine that information with their own systems. So open is really the only way forward.”
Liz’s current focus is on connecting powerful data sets—from Nielsen and third parties—to help clients react more quickly and accurately than ever before. And her work is part of the science behind the Nielsen Connected System, a new platform that integrates Nielsen data, client data and rich analytics to help clients act on real-time insight instead of historical performance data. For example, the integration of weather and sales data could be a game changer for companies whose business results can fluctuate due to seasonality.
“The Connected System is really a data, analytics and tech solution,” says Liz. “It will help our clients move away from looking at what happened and start looking at why it happened—and that will tell them what to do next. Companies spend 80% of their time looking at WHAT happened. We want to shift that paradigm.”
But tech doesn’t just need to be built—it needs to be embraced. That’s where Liz and her team come in. She’s in charge of conveying the vision, strategy and promise of the Connected System. And much of that is based on one critical acknowledgment: No single company has every asset a client will need to effectively run its business. This key insight forms the basis for our operational strategy, which embraces openness and collaboration.
In addition to fostering a culture of collaboration, flexibility and agility, Liz explains that championing an open philosophy extends well beyond client deliverables. It extends throughout Nielsen’s organization and culture and inspires associates to think about challenges, business decisions and problem solving in new and inventive ways. And while she says this mindset has influenced the development of the Connected System and keeps the workforce invigorated, Liz believes it will also keep our business fresh, agile and adaptive as the market continues to evolve.
“The transition to open is one of the reasons I love Nielsen,” she says. “It pushes us to think differently—to flip a problem on its head and tackle it a different way. It’s something we had to do because we want to transform the way they use Nielsen data, and you can really see this in the work being done on the Connected System. It really stands as a great example of how we’re really embracing this new philosophy.”
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As a cultural phenomenon, openness has permeated the company culture down to a team level. Staying sharp and upbeat about innovation and tech evolution amid a rapidly changing, ever-demanding landscape demands ways to unwind. For Liz, that means sharing her love of singing with her team—a love that started as a young age and inspired her to attend a top music school so she could go on to perform in college. In fact, she continues to sing in her hometown of Chicago, and that ongoing passion even sparks the occasional karaoke outing with her team.
Liz’s love of music and performance have also given her comfort in a role that hinges on storytelling and engaging with people about what’s next at Nielsen. In fact, she says it makes her a natural fit for creating connections.
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