GDPR: Burden or Blessing?

With all the buzz about General Dataa Protection Regulation (GDPR,) a lot of companies still find themselves scrambling to comply. Many may be tempted to view the GDPR as a burden.

A better approach? Let the GDPR be a blessing, the sea change for turning your data into the valuable asset that it is.

Centralizing Data for GDPR

Say a customer asks for you to erase, extract, or transfer his data to another provider; for an initial copy of his data; or to rectify inaccurate or incomplete data. If your lead, contact, and account data are scattered, retrieving and manipulating any of this will devour time and resources.

Customer data centralization alleviates these challenges. Even if datasets have spread across systems used by different departments like sales, marketing, finance, support (e.g., CRMs, ERPs, web forms, marketing automation tools)—fusing records and storing data in a single cloud gives you one trusted place, at all times, to read, write, or update data—individually or en masse—on demand. This is ideal for GDPR compliance.

Count Your Blessings

A unified dataset also expedites how businesses analyze their performance. Often, groups such as sales, marketing, support, and finance rely on their own sets of data. Centralization simplifies this fragmentation by giving everybody one dataset to analyze, so all the parrying and debates about data validity turn quickly into action plans. Less time is wasted wrangling the right information siloed in repositories, which means teams spend more time digging deep into their analyses with their favorite visualization tools.

That kind of unity gives teams a 360-degree-view of the customer lifecycle, which dramatically improves the
customer experience. When marketing is set up for success, staff can help sales turn leads into deals, and support teams can see all
customer interactions through a magnifying glass. Across the board, your whole
organization has more time and insight to explain trends and solve those issues vital to the health of your business—soldering investments to quantifiable outcomes.

Overcoming Burdens

Let’s all admit that centralizing customer data can be complex. But this is no reason to feel overwhelmed. Let’s take a look at how we can overcome a few salient challenges and jujitsu these into bona fide wins.

Burden #1: Consent

GDPR says: “businesses must provide records of the customer’s consent, including the conditions under which each customer has given their consent and the specific purpose for which consent was obtained.”

Translation: Businesses must say—in simple language—where customer data resides, what the data is used for, who has access to it, and why. Your website should ask for permission to collect data, or allow folks to opt out.

Depending on the kind of data you collect, you also might have several distinct consent solutions. Sales could capture customer data for opportunities while support does the same for tickets.

Blessing #1: Build Trust or Customer Loyalty

Turn the burden into a blessing.

Ninety-two percent of Europeans say it is important that their emails and online messages remain confidential. When customers see clear privacy notices and justification for why you collect data, such transparency will help to build trust and customer loyalty to your brand. Plus, centralization fuses consent data. Cookies, metadata, billing information, and phone numbers are all under one roof. And although GDPR will render personal data harder to collect—and therefore scarcer—it will also make the data you do collect more valuable.

Burden #2: On-Demand Data Wrangling

When datasets are spread across systems, satisfying customer requests to change or access information can seem challenging. You would need to find, marshal, and match records, which is easier said than done.

Blessing #2: Data Efficiency and Integrity

On-demand data manipulation improves data economy. Data you don’t need, you no longer collect. Fusing records from multiple databases also improves data integrity. From one warehouse, you now have access to a single data source that is trusted. Teams needn’t spend time debating data isolated across silos. Instead, they can focus on crafting solutions to problems based on data, an opportunity which imparts a seismic shift on company culture.

Burden #3: Documentation and Training

GDPR requires you to keep records about the data you hold, where it is, why you collected it, which rights and modifications are attached to it, when it must be deleted, with whom you have shared that data, where it has traveled, under what conditions, and a data flow audit of mechanisms you have in place to limit access. All of this requires thorough documentation, with contingencies and training protocols so teams must know how to return or erase sensitive data and how to notify customers about a breach.

Blessing #3: Strategy and Execution

Documentation and training are great opportunities for cleaning up your knowledgebase. Centralized data radically simplifies documentation, lowering the learning curve for new users. And, with well-trained employees, you can improve how your organization executes strategies, as greater internal alignment about process inevitably produces more profitable outcomes.

Burden #4: Security

Under the GDPR’s Article 32, controllers and processors must “implement appropriate technical and organizational measures” and consider “the risk ... for the rights and freedoms of natural persons.” In other words, security teams already concerned with encryption must inventory their process for testing security. If you suffer a security breach, for instance, you must respond within 72 hours.

Blessing #4: Backup and Support

Under GDPR, there are costs to losing data or being unable to retrieve it. Storing all your customer data—membership, events, finance, product sales, leads—in one cloud data warehouse ensures key data is never lost or hard to find.

Most companies use transparent data encryption (TDE), a two-tier encryption key, to suspend access, render encrypted data unintelligible after a data breach, and monitor suspicious activity. When centralized, TDE is much easier to manage, which reduces the risk of administrative error on individual targets. Plus, the data you regularly secure is backed up so you can restore data in the event of server failure or natural disaster without hardware redundancy at the server level.

Moving From Burden to Blessing

Although customer data is always changing, centralizing it needn’t be tedious or time-consuming. By automating the centralization process, organizations can ensure that data is up to date and accurate, improving their customer experience and paving the road for GDPR compliance.


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