May 25th, 2018 is the date by which all businesses who have dealings with customers or clients from the European Union, (EU) must be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The GDPR, isn’t just for EU-based businesses and, as such, is something all businesses around the globe, need to be ready for.
But, while there is reportedly much fear over the potential negative impact GDPR could have on businesses, there is also a real chance for businesses to use this as a way to improve their business processing and even, their marketing materials and style.
Today, we want to focus on the potential positives the GDPR could bring to small businesses. However, before we start with the possible good news, lets recap exactly what GDPR is and why it’s been created.
A GDPR Overview
The GDPR has been under discussion within the EU, since 2012 and is an update to existing data protection-related legislation. The final, official summary outlining GDPR, is as follows:
“The aim of the GDPR is to protect all EU citizens from privacy and data breaches in an increasingly data-driven world that is vastly different from the time in which the 1995 directive was established. Although the key principles of data privacy still hold true to the previous directive, many changes have been proposed to the regulatory policies”
It’s clear that the reasoning behind GDPR is to protect EU citizens’ personal data in a way that is transparent and measurable. But, for many businesses, this will require significant changes to the way they manage and store their customer data.
Whenever a new rule that will affect a major part of the infrastructure of your business systems is required, it can seem like a huge headache you wish you could get rid of. The only way to remove any GDPR concerns, is to ensure your business is compliant to all the relevant new rules when they come into force by the date of enforcement.
Luckily for small businesses, there are a few exemptions which have been designed to ensure smaller, often less wealthy businesses, aren’t bogged down by masses of expensive requirements. While there are still many changes that will need to be made, fortunately, it’s possible to adopt GDPR in a way that benefits your business as well as safeguarding your customer’s personal data.
Streamline Your Data Management System
The details of GDPR mean that once you have used your customer’s data for the specific element or promotion it was submitted for, it should then be deleted. On the face of it, this sounds like quite a lot of hard work:
- You must identify exactly when, where and how you collected different sets of customer data.
- A simple and transparent way of deleting that data at the right time must be installed, along with a safe way to prove you have done so, is also required.
Of course, these aren’t the only two issues that arise from this point, but they’re the ones that immediately come to mind and will affect almost every business with EU customers.
Instead of balking at the sheer size of data that will need re-organizing, think of it as a great exercise to streamline your data management and be on top of what data you have. This could result in a complete data audit – time consuming work, we know. But also, it could make you aware that your current data management system just isn’t working as well as it should.
Unfortunately, there are costs associated with this course of action. However, if it means you’re fully GDPR compliant and can easily manage your customer data, then it has to be a positive development for your business. And just think. Even though larger businesses may have more staff and resources to cope with this, the exercise is a much bigger one and even more time-consuming than it should be for your small business.
One potential area to recoup some costs could be in the form of storage. If your small business no longer stores huge swathes of customer data over a long period, your data storage requirements should be re-assessed.
Keep an Eye Out for New Data Management Innovations
Existing data management systems might not be exactly what your small business needs to easily adapt to the new legislation. But, considering the pace at which digital innovation develops, the perfect system could be just around the corner. Keep an open mind about testing new data systems and trying something you hadn’t previously considered.
Or, if nothing comes up, why don’t you partner with a technical guru you trust and work together, to develop the perfect solution?
Chances are, if this new innovative system suits your small business, then it will work well for many other companies, too. And, where there’s digital innovation, there’s a business proposition, which is another way your small business could really benefit from GDPR.
Re-Think Your Marketing Strategy from a GDPR Perspective
It’s not just your data management processes that could be improved by GDPR – your marketing strategy and planning could, too.
As the implementation of GDPR draws closer, there will be a lot more noise about it in the news. Place your small business as one that is fully compliant, can prove it and won’t ever misuse customer data.
There are many ways in which you could promote your businesses GDPR compliance and how it can benefit your customers. And, if you’ve been able to modernise your systems and save costs on data storage, be positive about those financial benefits to your small business. GDPR has been positive for your company and it will be positive for your customers too.
Another potential marketing-related benefit is that the GDPR should make you stop and consider exactly why you’re requesting personal data from potential customers. If the marketing strategies you’ve employed in the past through use of that data haven’t worked, try something completely different, that doesn’t require so much customer data. This different approach is something that could very well appeal to more of your customers and achieve a greater response.
Modern Data Handling Laws ARE Positive
Aside from the extra work the GDPR might cause for many businesses, a better handle on exactly how your data is collected, stored and used is a good thing. It’s beneficial for your customers who can trust you when you say you will only use their details for particular reasons, before deleting it and making it safe from criminal activity.
It’s also beneficial for you as a small business. That’s because all your competitors and other small businesses must manage their customer data in the same, GDPR compliant way – or face stiff fines that could jeopardize their business. It levels the playing field and also gives you an opportunity to introduce change that could be the boost you’ve been searching for!