Why GDPR is an opportunity

After seeing all the emerging solutions on offer at the Technology for Marketing Conference (TFM) at the end of September, I was reminded just how far technology has come in the last couple of decades, and how far it has still to go.

When I took the leap from customer services into marketing in 1989, I was hooked from the very beginning. Within a few short months, I began my Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications.

Looking back now those learnings seem so basic compared to what is on offer today. But at the time they felt ground breaking.

The four P’s, developed into the seven P’s, SWOT, PEST and Maslow theories and other practices that invaded my brain. Don’t get me wrong, they still have a place, but times they are a changing.

Back then it took time to unravel questionnaire, survey and focus group results to build a picture of your target market - processing mountains of data against demographics to be mapped against the proposals from the new product development team.

At the break of the Millennium I was working at Vodafone and for the first time had a wealth of information from an entire team dedicated to customer insight. A lot of resource was spent getting under the skin of consumers and finding out what they wanted.

It was a real eye opener and we saw the beginnings of automation and personalisation of products and services.

Changing regulations

This was all taking place under the now outgoing Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). There was a certain level of confusion about opt-in or opt-outs for information gathering and using, but compared to the latest legislation that is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) it now feels like a simpler time.

The vast amount of personal data available from an even greater number of channels, together with technological advancements, is mind blowing.

Add to that the fact that data can be collected in real time, with customers making instant decisions, leaves marketers reeling with a lack of loyalty to any given brand.

So, what can be done to help brands continue to succeed in this digital age?

Data is of increasing importance and value. There is a real need for the insights data can bring. Hidden in the data you collect could be the source of competitive advantage.

best practice will be to educate your customers

But, in the midst of the need for this data, many organisations have lost sight of the most important aspect. The data comes from their customers, each an individual. It is their personal details you need to analyse. Their preferences. Their purchasing history. Their performance. Their health. This can be really sensitive information and is entirely important to them.

GDPR goes a long way to addressing this issue, giving back control of personal data to the citizen. But there is more that can be done. Marketers, although not entirely responsible for delivering GDPR across the organisation – it touches on all departments and starts in the board room – must take responsibility for engagement and communication with prospective and existing customers.

Bringing them with you on your organisation’s journey through the new legislation.

One distinct step towards best practice will be to educate your customers. Take them from the digital skills they currently have (log in, select and purchase online) to a true digital understanding of what data they are entrusting to you. What you not only plan, but will do with it, and how it will be processed, shared or profiled.

This will come from your privacy policy and other communications. These communications and policies must be easy to find, read and understand – and be relevant.

Trust and data

With today’s technology pop up boxes, video and interactive screens can be used to get your message across. But you must record your customers’ acceptance – their permissions – or it’s “do not pass go, do not collect …”

MyLife Digital has developed the Consentric Permissions personal management solution to help organisations deliver this against GDPR. 

digital transformation begins with transparency.

Going back to the beginning and thinking about TFM, and how far tech can still go. It’s astounding and amazing out there. From virtual show rooms, robot assistance, chat bots, holographic points of sale and touch screens, to Bluetooth and the Internet of Things. The list goes on and on.

Will Alexa lead us to more interactive homes with fridges restocking themselves from supermarkets and deliveries by drone or driverless car? Maybe? Probably? Certainly?

But remember with every transaction made there will be data – heaps of it. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes (or on their hover boards). You have to trust your personal data to these organisations. 

The basics - who you are, where you live, your payment details, your age, your preferences. For food shopping your dietary requirements, for clothes your measurements, for holidays where you would like to go and when you want to travel, for prescriptions or wellness services your health records and fitness performance levels. A tsunami of personal data.

Your customers will want this – but not at any cost.

Data has a value. Digital transformation begins with transparency. It’s time to create the new economy with personal data as the currency and trust as the credit rating.

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