Planes are falling out the sky, the internet is broken, and all hell is breaking loose! Wait. No it’s not. Well that is a relief!
The build up to ‘GDPR deadline day’ reminded me of the ‘millennium bug’ hysteria in 1999. This time though, instead of planes falling out of the sky, businesses would be issued with crippling fines and unrecoverable damage to their reputation.
The truth is that there was never going to be business meltdown on May 25th 2018.
The GDPR deadline is not a business disaster – but it is important
The GDPR deadline date is significant though. Companies do need to comply with stricter rules around how they capture, store and process data. The fines and risks to reputation are a reality for those that fail to protect and respect consumer data in the future. So while the headlines focusing on a dramatic May 25th deadline might have been a bit over the top, the underlying warnings are real. All businesses should keep up the good work they have done to get ready – and continue to make improvements.
The positives of GDPR
The lead up to the GDPR deadline day has been full of stark warnings about the punitive outcomes of not being compliant, however there are some real positives that the headline writers largely chose to ignore.
The positives for consumers
GDPR efforts have meant many businesses invested in better data and privacy policies for their customers. These companies have improved the security of their data, and therefore they have reduced risks of data breaches which can harm consumers.
Consumers now have much more control about who can do what with their information. This should lead to a reduction in unwanted spam.
They also have the right to access to their data that a company may have stored about them.
At the very least consumers have peace of mind that they have more control over their own personal data and how it is used.
The positives for businesses
Businesses exposure to data risks should now be lower. Awareness has improved across the business world and employees at all levels will now be taking customer data much more seriously. This reduces the likelihood of technical and human errors leading to high profile data breaches, which can in turn lead to expensive fines and significant reputation damage.
Many businesses will have also been able to use GDPR to improve their technology and ongoing processes. This can help companies develop new products, become more efficient, and grow faster over the longer-term.
What next for business?
The biggest immediate change on GDPR deadline day is that businesses can no longer send out large volumes of emails with scant regard to who they are sending them to. The ‘numbers game’ is over.
Business now need to be much more strategic in how they market themselves to consumers. Rather than ‘spray and pray’, business need to think carefully about what messages people want to receive and provide relevance.
They need to be more targeted and smart in their approach. Failure to do this will diminish already depleted marketing databases even further (through increased unsubscribes), making it even more difficult to get in front of consumers.
But fear not, this shift is a good thing. Just like technology advances have improved businesses and opened up new opportunities; advances in how customer data is used and managed effectively can serve to improve marketing, communications and ultimately return on investment.