Nielsen Media Research had information about its clients spread across more than 30 separate databases. No single database provided a complete picture of a client and its needs, nor was there any single system that indicated who had last talked to whom within the client organization. Nielsen Media has consolidated the information from all these separate databases using Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM. The organization’s sales and marketing teams now have a single business system through which they can see a more comprehensive picture of clients and their needs, as well as a single system through which they can track who had last contact with a client and what they discussed. Other Nielsen Company subsidiaries have also begun to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM, increasing this transparency still further and fostering more consistent client interactions and more focused client support.
Nielsen Media Research has made a name for itself tracking the television and media viewing habits of homes across the country. It can tell a broadcaster how many people are watching a given television show, enabling the broadcaster to set advertising rates commensurate with demand for air time.
But there were certain bits of information that Nielsen Media personnel were having trouble obtaining. The company had more than 30 databases containing research and customer data, and no way to form a coherent picture of its customers. “We had some 35 databases where we tracked client information,” says Anita Rubino, Senior Vice President of Global Knowledge and Internet Marketing Services at the Nielsen company, “so we had 35 different ways of reporting who that client is.”
Moreover, Nielsen Media executives knew that this was just the tip of a vast iceberg of fragmented knowledge. Nielsen Media is one of more than 30 subsidiaries of the Nielsen Company, and no one within Nielsen Media had any way of knowing which clients were doing business with other Nielsen Company subsidiaries—or what information those clients might be seeking. Broadcasting company NBC, for example, is a company with which Nielsen Media has a strong relationship, but Nielsen Media has no formal relationship with NBC’s parent company, GE. Nielsen Media executives were certain that other Nielsen Company subsidiaries—which gather data on everything from the impact and effectiveness of outdoor advertising to trends and habits among retail shoppers—would be working closely with a company as prominent as GE. But which subsidiaries? And with whom at GE were the different Nielsen account teams talking? If they had such knowledge, it might be possible for Nielsen Media and other Nielsen Company subsidiaries to provide a more effective product offering or to seize service opportunities that no one had previously seen.
Nielsen Media executives wanted to find a way to bring together all the data it had in order to gain better insight into its customers, their needs, and the opportunities those needs presented—as well as better insight into internal matters such as who was working with whom within the customer base and what were they talking about. Solution
Nielsen Media executives quickly realized that the key to consolidating and accessing the information they wanted lay in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. But that realization answered only the first of many questions. Which of the many available CRM solutions would best meet the company’s needs? Which would be easiest for Nielsen Media employees to use, and which would most likely be adopted? Which could most easily make available the information in all the different databases within the organization? The Security of an Internally-Hosted Solution
Working with a variety of external consultants as well as the company’s own IT department, Nielsen Media executives narrowed the field of CRM vendors, eventually drawing up a short list of two serious contenders—one that would run internally, one that would be hosted externally. After much deliberation, Nielsen Media executives opted to run a pilot program using the internally hosted application, Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM 3.0.
“We really wanted a solution that we could host ourselves,” says Steven Perry, Senior Vice President of Client Support and Knowledge Services at Nielsen Media. “All this information is not just data but significant intellectual property, and we did not want to rely on anyone else to retain and secure that for us. We were more confident in our ability to secure and manage it ourselves.” An Easily Adopted Solution
Another reason for the decision to put Microsoft Dynamics CRM to the test was a key requirement that emerged during the CRM search process: Nielsen Media users demanded that the CRM solution be easy to use. Nielsen Media personnel already use Microsoft Office Outlook® for their messaging, calendaring, and global contact lists; they were already familiar with the software and its conventions. The integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office Outlook could make it easy for users throughout the organization to access the data within Microsoft Dynamics CRM right through the Microsoft Office Outlook interface.
“The Nielsen Media sales force spends the majority of its time working in Microsoft Office Outlook,” Perry says. “We didn’t want to have to have them leave Outlook and open up another application to access their customer information. We wanted the information easily accessible through the tools with which they are already familiar.”
In late 2006, Nielsen Media implemented a pilot program using Microsoft Dynamics CRM within one small division of the organization. The ease with which users could access the information they wanted and the degree to which a coherent picture of its clients was taking shape was compelling, so Sara Erichson, the head of the Client Services Organization within Nielsen Media, gave the go-ahead to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM throughout the organization.
Today, nearly 400 people within the Nielsen organization rely on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The application itself runs on Microsoft Windows Server® 2003-based servers in the company’s Florida data center. The users, located throughout the United States, all access the system through Microsoft Office Outlook 2007. Benefits
“We needed a tool that our internal sales, marketing, and service people could use to help us understand who our clients are and how they’re related,” says Rubino. “We know that GE is the parent company of NBC, for example, but some of the local NBC affiliates are not GE companies. For contract purposes, we need to track that parent ownership. That is information our people needed but could not easily access before, given that the data about these organizations and their parents resided in different databases.”
In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Nielsen Media users now have a single source to turn to if they want to know anything about a customer and Nielsen Media’s relationship to that customer. Sales and marketing teams can see all the organization’s customers, who is working with each customer, and what information products the customer is using.
“With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we have the ability to share client information across business units,” says Rubino. “Now, not only can our local and national businesses see each others’ clients, but any other division within the Nielsen Company that is using this deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM can see that information—and we can see their clients, too. That’s been a great epiphany for the [Nielsen] Media world. We’re the types who tend to keep our data close to the chest, so it’s helped us in our goal to be more open and integrated and to simplify our work processes.” Expanding the Success Internally
These benefits have not been lost on other Nielsen Company subsidiaries. Nielsen Health, for example, has already joined forces with Nielsen Media to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM for its employees. “Nielsen Health is a small division of the Nielsen Company,” says Kelly Gitchel, Marketing and Sales Manager for Nielsen Health, “and our products rely on the data collected by other groups. We need to know who is working with whom and when a client has been contacted so as not to duplicate efforts.”
“Before we had the CRM system, we never had this insight,” Gitchel continues. “We never had a holistic view into what was going on. We might have contacted a client a hundred different times and overwhelmed them. Instead, we’re using a one-voice approach, which is much more effective for us.”
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has also made it much easier for Gitchel to answer questions about active sales and marketing campaigns. “If my boss asks who is contacting whom and where we stand with a given proposal, I can easily pull the answer to those questions from the CRM system. I would have been able to get the answers without the CRM system, but it might have taken hours. Now, it takes a couple of minutes.” Tapping into the Marketing Features
These early successes have also whetted the appetite of users for more, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is poised to deliver.
“There are marketing features of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that we haven’t even touched yet,” says Gitchel, “and they’re very exciting. I’m looking forward to using the marketing tools to track leads and promotional strategies. We’ll be able to go to a conference, track the people we contacted before the event, track how many meetings we had with those people during the event, and track how many of these leads turned into opportunities, then accounts, and so forth. I’m looking forward to using this to track the whole process, because it will help me when I look back later and want to see how certain accounts evolved. It will be easier to determine which approaches worked and which ones did not.” Fostering Transparency
“In my eyes,” says Rubino, “the most significant benefit of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is that it's a tool that facilitates the integration of our organization. Our goal is to show one face to the client, and this is the type of solution that can make that real. Other groups may find more direct benefits relating to how they work with a client, but as a strategic tool Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps us appear more open—and that’s an important goal of ours. If we’re open and integrated, it makes it easier for us to share information. It simplifies a lot of the work that our sales people need to do, and it’s the key to integrating our sales and service efforts across the organization.” For More Information
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