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Dermot O’Connor
25 May 2018

GDPR isn’t a deadline. It’s an opportunity

It has been years in the making, but GDPR is finally here.

Now that we’ve arrived, I can’t help but think back to what it felt like at one minute past midnight on 1 January 2000. We’d been through months of worry and panic about the so-called Y2K ‘millennium bug’. Life as we knew it, the pessimists told us, would grind to a shuddering halt.

But it didn’t. We stood there, champagne glasses in hand, and everything continued to work. Computers didn’t crash. Planes stayed in the sky.

There’s been a similar kind of furore over the GDPR deadline, especially during the last few months. I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read that warned of companies feeling unprepared, worried or confused by their responsibilities. The volume dial has steadily ratcheted up and up.

Perhaps it isn’t surprising, given the large fines regulators have threatened for non-compliance. But I can’t help thinking that putting consequences front-and-centre has led to an unnecessarily skewed and panicked conversation about GDPR.

That negative press has created a problem: Many of the positives and opportunities that GDPR presents have been overlooked.

By prompting organisations to put holistic, continuous compliance processes in place, GDPR is helping them to recognise their customers as individuals. It offers far greater clarity on what businesses should do with customer data, and a clear map that charts a course to two-way conversations and genuine customer centricity. It’s the perfect foundation for brands that want to move forward and build open, honest and more personal relationships with their customers.

As we stand on the cusp of the experience economy – where experiences, not product or price, are the primary differentiator for brands – what could be more foundational than clarity and consent?

The smartest businesses are welcoming GDPR

There are operational benefits too. To achieve the highest level of compliance, GDPR demands a new level of collaboration across businesses that hasn’t existed before. It makes sense: If marketing secures consent from a customer, for example, sales can contribute to and nurture that communication channel. Processes now need to be deployed across multiple departments and physical data silos need to be broken down.

The greater the collaboration between departments, the easier it will be for an organisation to build a complete view of its customers and speak to them in more compelling and consistent ways. And with collaboration in full flow, projects can be designed from the ground up with the objectives of multiple teams in mind. Campaigns can be put into practice faster and more efficiently.

To make all this happen, technology is critical. Businesses that have embraced GDPR as an opportunity have introduced technology that will drive these benefits right through their business. Many businesses – our customers among them – are well on the way with this already. For the rest, GDPR can only serve to accelerate progress.

In the end, we’ll all benefit. Customers will receive better, more relevant experiences from brands, and brands will earn enhanced levels of trust and more productive relationships with a clearly-defined group of avid customers. In the wake of recent privacy scandals, that sounds refreshing.

The smartest businesses are welcoming GDPR as a cultural, functional and operational stepping stone towards enhanced customer experience. The pessimists should take note.

So if you think GDPR is just a regulatory headache, reconsider the possibilities. Get ahead of the competition. Embrace the change. Push further towards customer centricity. 25 May isn’t a deadline – it’s just the start.

Dermot O’Connor
VP Business Development and Co-founder

Dermot is VP Business Development and Co-founder at Boxever – a market-leading personalisation platform that uses data and AI to make every customer interaction smarter. Boxever is recognised by Gartner as a leading player in personalisation and ranked by Forbes alongside Google, Apple and Amazon as one of the most powerful examples of AI in use today.

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