GDPR: Friend or Foe?

Nicola Pero, Chief Technology Officer of Engage Hub discusses how compliance with the regulations of GDPR can build brand strength, and what technologies are required to conform.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been widely publicised. This is largely due to the fact the last time the law on data changed was back in 1995. At this time, just over 23% of households had a computer. Since then, the technological environment we inhabit has shifted beyond recognition.

GDPR has been enshrined in law and will be enforced from 25 May 2018. There’s no denying that change is essential. Seen in these stark terms, the need for reform – the necessity of ensuring that our rights as consumers are protected – is glaring. But should you view the GDPR as a necessary evil? Or should you embrace it as a positive change?

Your stance on this will depend largely on your business’s willingness to embrace the positive effect it can have on your brand building capabilities, and your business’s willingness to embrace the technology to comply fully with the new rules.

Building Brand Strength:
It’s time to see GDPR as an opportunity. Its inevitable arrival, is giving your business the time to review and refine your data processes, to make changes and to ensure you’re doing better, building trust in your business and your brand.

Under GDPR, you’re required to carry out privacy impact assessments, which are designed to give you an understanding of the risks to personal data and privacy.
-Say goodbye to opt-outs – Under GPDR, the double opt-in is crucial if you want to avoid being fined
-Introducing the consent lifespan – You need a legitimate reason to communicate with consumers, and consent will be granted for a limited timescale
-Aggregation has been significantly reduced – No longer will it be easy for you to aggregate data to profile
an individual
-You need consent for data mining and machine learning – So those advanced digital marketing techniques will be harder to implement in the future

If you act now, you can secure consent from your existing data for continuing communication. You also have the option to purchase data and secure opt-in from those contacts. In doing this you build trust between the business and the customer.

By proactively embracing the new rules you are being given the opportunity to build a sense of trust with your customer, which increases the value of your brand. This long lead in time also allows you to maintain your status and ensure it is not tarnished through negligent actions.

It’s important to remember that failure to comply will be publicised, damaging both your finances and
your reputation.

With the impending arrival of GDPR, things are set to get more stringent. For example, regulators will be able to intervene more readily in businesses and their operations in order to shape how personal data is used. They’ll also be able to impose even greater fines for non-compliance, which could lead to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover for the preceding financial year, whichever is greater.

Economic reprimands will impact your market standing and break your brand strength. It is important to prepare so as not to expose yourself to this risk.

Select technologies to ‘sit above the data base’
The protection of personal data and privacy are built into all business processes – and flow through every department – so you’ll need to evaluate the way your whole business works to ensure compliance.
-Change the way you store every piece of information about a consumer – Data held in silos from online and offline channels needs to be integrated
-Consumers can legally request all data about them – That means you need to be ready to send anything from metre readings (for utility companies) to appointment history (for dentists)
-Take time now to implement the correct processes or infrastructure – Otherwise your business could incur huge operational costs

It’s actually relatively straightforward to make data more accessible by using technology that sits above databases to store siloed data. As a number of businesses have already discovered, it pays off in the long run to integrate your data silos, bringing together behavioural, social, transactional, descriptive and product data into a single system.

A data management platform significantly reduces the risks associated with not being able to find data or action a request. And a holistic view of all individuals interacting with your organisation also delivers significant long-term benefits.

It’s your chance to transform your business, getting rid of outdated processes and making you transparent and accountable to your customers. GDPR is most definitely friend rather than foe, and it’s time to take action.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine