Reordering the data treasure trove: how to be GDPR ready

For marketers, Gartner’s prediction that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use this year means two things. Firstly, they will have access to a treasure trove of data. Secondly, the omni-channel nature of this data means it’s likely information will be held across multiple isolated platforms, making it hard to find true insight gems.

And with the May 2018 GDPR deadline fast approaching, making such huge volumes of fragmented data manageable — and compliant — on time will be no mean feat.

But the challenge isn’t insurmountable. It is possible for marketers to reorder their data and transform it onto a controllable, single store of insight using technology already at hand.

What’s more, embracing the GDPR’s mission to quell consumer distrust and protect online privacy could deliver valuable rewards for businesses; especially those that take an early lead on championing transparent data usage.

So how can these issues be tackled to ensure GDPR readiness?

Connect the dots

At present, consumer data is often siloed on several levels. For instance, data from website visits is kept separately to social, mobile data, and email insight.

And it doesn’t end there: offline data is also frequently stored separately to digital data, so in-store purchase information and catalogue orders have their own datasets too. But to understand consumers and serve relevant, timely messages — as well as keep data practices in check — it is crucial to link all activity.

This sounds like a tough task, but in fact, the data within multiple silos can be connected to form a data hub using models such as Unified Data Hub (UDH) or data-centric web services. This enables marketers to achieve a single view across datasets that allows for the creation of centralised segments and can be easily adapted over time to accommodate new tools as further engagement channels are introduced.

Admittedly key entity data can be complex, depending on the type of business, but once integrated it offers an efficient and effective means of joining-up the consumer journey, regardless of the devices involved along the way.

Ensure compliance

Bringing data together is one thing, but to achieve full GDPR adherence there are many other factors marketers will need to consider; such as when, where and how they are using, and storing, data.

To help them on their way, here are a few of the core processes they must follow to get a firm hold on first-party data and keep brand-customer relations strong.

Obtain consent

All businesses involved in collecting personal data (defined as any data that can be used to identify individuals, from economic to social information) need to obtain clear consent to do so. Requests for consent need to be simply worded and explain how data will be used.

Be transparent with data

Once consent is given, businesses can only use the data in question for the purpose originally stated. Furthermore, they should not hold data longer than is necessary and must delete personal information if requested by the user and if it is not essential to their services.

Report security breaches

The GDPR stipulates that any breach of data security must be reported to the local data protection authority within 72 hours of discovery.

Implement ‘privacy by design’

Businesses are obliged to implement ‘privacy by design’; in other words the construction of all systems, projects, and procedures must include privacy protection measures.

No-one would question that customer data is a valuable asset for all businesses. But the vast amount of data being generated, and its fragmentation, can hamper marketing efforts, in addition to making data compliance difficult.

Yet by connecting information in a universal data hub and bridging silo gaps, marketers can effectively store and analyse customer data insights, using technology already at their fingertips.

And taking that leap towards GDPR compliance can do a lot for retaining consumer trust and enhancing communications – it’s simple, it’s effective; it’s the way to stay ahead.

– by Lindsay McEwan