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21 August 2017

Oh no… not another article about GDPR!

Indeed, we fully understand your thinking: “Here we go again, another article about GDPR…” Will it be yet another legal firm translating a 300+ page regulation into a slightly more understandable text? Or maybe it’s the next IT company trying to sell you THE solution for being GDPR compliant. Or perhaps it’s the next blogger telling you it’s much ado about nothing?

No, we promise you, it’s not that! What will we talk about then? Well, let’s start by asking which internal departments cover the GDPR? IT? Risk? Legal & Compliance? Raise your hand if you are a marketer responsible for discussing the implementation of GDPR in your company.  Not many hands out there, we guess… and for the few lucky ones: congratulations! We really applaud when marketers are in the GDPR taskforce…

General Data Protection Regulation

GDPR: issue or opportunity?

As with many of these European regulations, the first natural reflex is to make sure you comply. Seriously, have you seen the fines? €20 million or 4% of your annual turnover! The next natural reflex will be: “Are we talking about compliance? Surely that’s not a marketer’s job.”

Maybe your company is still wondering where to start to tackle the GDPR issue? Or maybe you’ve already invested heavily in IT solutions, GDPR specialists and legal consultants? But in the end, there is still no pragmatic answer on the table.

Maybe that is exactly where the answer lies. Is GDPR really an issue? If you take a closer look, you will soon realize that it is an opportunity and – even one step further – it is a dream come true for many marketers aiming to be truly customer-centric.

The principles of GDPR

No worries, you will not need to read through a lengthy article again explaining all the principles of GDPR. But just to make sure we are all on the same page, here’s a very quick overview what it’s all about.

First: it is not new. The General Data Protection Regulation is an update of the European Data Protection Directive of 1995. Indeed, since 1995 there has been no revision on how to handle data.

Can you imagine? To put it simply, we were not even surfing the worldwide web back then. So, let’s be honest, maybe an update on how to regulate data protection was kind of necessary?

GDPR regulates personal data, namely any data that makes it possible to identify you as a person. Thereby focussing on 4 principles:

  1. Transparency
  2. Data transfer
  3. The right to be forgotten
  4. The obligation to report data breaches

To comply with the specifics of these four principles, companies need to know exactly what personal data they collect and how they need to protect and handle this data.

Aren’t these principles what we call ‘common sense’? Or to use a striking Dutch expression “gezond boerenverstand”?

Mastering data provides a unique opportunity

New regulations rarely provide corporations with new benefits. However, mastering your data could unlock multiple opportunities.

Nowadays, consumers understand that their data is out there. 81% of organizations(1) believe that consumers would immediately exercise their right to be forgotten, if they could. But maybe you should think this one through carefully before using this belief as the cornerstone of your GDPR approach.

Why have disruptive businesses such as Uber, Airbnb and many others, been so successful over recent years? Just because they are labelled ‘disruptive’?  No, because they invested in data management platforms and used the insights from the data they gathered. In the end, that is what consumers want. They want to have the right information, at the right moment and at the right place. This is a statement we have been talking about for years, but it’s a huge hurdle for many companies because they have not invested in a central data repository capable of supporting these requests.

You might think that customer-explicit consent might lower the success rate of your marketing campaigns. However, it is a simple mathematical rule: if you target the right customers, your chances of conversion will only increase. So, yes, maybe your addressable segments might become smaller, but at least you are targeting the right customer with the right message and hence positively influencing your customer satisfaction and improving your operational efficiency.

Or why not go one step further and start to contact your customers proactively and inform them what data you have available about them, to ensure accuracy and explain how giving their explicit consent might be beneficial for them in the future. You would be surprised about how this might positively influence your corporate image and words such as honesty and integrity could soon be linked with your brand name.

And then we didn’t even mention what an accurate database could do for your business decisions. Think about unlocking the full potential of modern technologies, such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, etc.

We could go on for quite some time about all these opportunities, but by now you probably got our point of view.  In short, the General Data Protection Regulation forces companies, for many good reasons, to invest in a central data repository containing consumer information. And is that not what you have been asking for all these years to enable you to better execute your marketing strategy?

So, if you’re not yet on the GDPR taskforce, make sure you get invited as a marketer as soon as possible and unlock the full potential of this new regulation!


 * Source: Symantec