For Yana Salimova, Data Science Is the Heart of Measurement in Russia

Can you imagine riding a bus long distances and then having to walk even further in freezing temperatures just to do your job? For members of our field team in Russia, this is a regular reality as they gather data from remote stores across the country. They literally go the distance to provide our comprehensive measurement.

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Yana Salimova, Operations Leader in Russia, understands these realities well. In her role, Yana works with associates in the field as well as those across our operations team to collect, produce and deliver our services to clients.

“Russia is a very diverse market. We have modern, developed trade, such as supermarkets and hypermarkets, in big cities, and at the same time, we have small, traditional trade kiosks in little rural villages,” Yana explains. “We measure both modern and traditional trade.”

However, Russia’s modern and traditional trade are evolving. Internet use is rapidly increasing, opening the doors to new data for retailers and brands. As a result, Yana and her team are adapting how we measure. Fortunately, Nielsen’s presence in more than 100 countries around the world has given them some valuable insights.

“In emerging markets, big data is still a new concept. We have experience from developed markets to help companies analyze their data.”

“In emerging markets, big data is still a new concept. Increasing internet penetration helps them to gather better data, but not everybody knows how to use it,” says Yana. “And here, Nielsen can help. We have experience from developed markets to help companies analyze their data.”

Luckily, Yana thrives on change. She’s been with Nielsen for over a decade. And it’s the constant need to continue innovating—whether she’s using solutions developed from learnings abroad or creating something new to solve a challenge unique to her market—to meet our clients’ diverse needs that keeps her excited.

“I love Nielsen because Nielsen loves me back. In my 10 years at Nielsen, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to work in different areas and to learn something new every day,” says Yana. “Nielsen gives me the opportunity to work with people around the globe and to learn about different cultures.”

Navigating the Russian Retail Landscape

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Collecting data across a country as big as Russia requires an equally large field force within our data acquisition department. Nearly 1,000 employees work in nearly every single area in Russia—from big cities like Moscow to rural villages—to gather data on the shopping habits of the Russian consumer.

Some might question the literal lengths our field team goes to when collecting data. But while measuring trends in remote rural areas can be difficult and take time, it provides our clients with crucial knowledge to understand where to put their products and how to price them.

“Our field team does a great job to persuade these stores to cooperate and to let our people in the stores to collect the data,” Yana notes. “Then, we can collect the data either from a big supermarket or from a small kiosk in the village.”

One thing that has helped the field team develop into a measurement powerhouse able to track shopping habits across Russia’s diverse retail landscape: experience.

“There are a lot of people who have been with Nielsen 10 or even 20 years, and they spend all that time collecting data,” Yana explains. “They’ve built really good relationships with the stores. We have some stores that have been in our panel for years.”

Innovating for the Future

These powerful and long-lasting relationships underpin the quality and strength of our data. However, new innovations are helping us continue to provide the most comprehensive measurement for our clients. And it’s our data science team that’s hard at work developing the technologies to better measure both modern and traditional trade.

One way we’re improving our traditional trend measurements is with a newly deployed quality control tower. This tool allows us to see the field team in real time on a map and send them messages back and forth using the same online tool. This improves quality and speed of delivery for our traditional trade measurement.

“Innovation is the best thing to do. It’s exciting to work on new things and create new products.”

“Innovation is the best thing to do,” Yana says. “It’s true not only for me, but for other Nielsen employees, as well. It’s exciting to work on new things and create new products. In other roles, you don’t always see the results of your labors, but innovation does.”

For Yana, these innovations put data science at the heart of Nielsen’s business. It’s data science that combines different sources of information to find new insights for our clients as today’s retail landscape continues to evolve.

“In Russia, we are not yet using a lot of big data—we are just scratching the surface—but it already helps our clients,” Yana shares. “We had a pilot study with a Russian technology company to target ads to small areas within the cities. We helped our client to grow their share in the city.”

Finding Success Through the Unexpected

While many wouldn’t expect an operations team to work closely with clients, Yana believes it’s crucial to her team’s success. Good innovations solve problems, and understanding the challenge is the first step. Working directly with clients also allows her team to see the value in what they do.

“The only way to understand if you’re doing good work is to hear the feedback from our clients.”

“The only way to understand if you’re doing good work is to hear the feedback from our clients,” explains Yana. “At Nielsen, great ideas are coming from both our clients and our team members. When you understand client needs, you understand the context, you understand what sources of information we have. You can combine it all and bring something new to our clients.”

While Yana’s passionate about innovation and technology, as well as her clients, her personal key to success is to unplug.

“I really like to get disconnected from mobile and internet and just spend time in the high mountains breathing the fresh air, with no people and no technology around me,” Yana shares. “It’s the only way for me to recharge the batteries and go reenergized to the office.”