Trust is critical as the customer information floodgates close

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) strengthens and unifies data protection for EU citizens and – crucially – gives individuals the power to decide which brands can use their personal data, and for what reasons.

Companies that fail to comply with the regulation, or fail to report instances of data breaches within 72 hours, face the prospect of being banned from processing personal data and risk being heavily fined – up to 4% of group global revenue. It is indeed the largest shakeup in data privacy in decades.

The ability to process personal data is critical to the competitiveness of every organisation in the digital age. From demographics to personal preferences, customer data allows companies to personalise and tailor the products, services and experiences they offer customers. Without access to this information, companies will not be able to differentiate their offerings sufficiently.

Other companies, meanwhile, have built entire business models around the sale of anonymised personal data to, for example, marketing organisations. If their pipeline of personal data is cut off, these businesses will not be able to operate.

>See also: GDPR: Compliance to commitment

Furthermore, we live in world where advances in technology are creating new opportunities for businesses to understand their customers on a deeper level and to monetise this knowledge. Biometric, visual, genomic and device data allows increasing precision as to who an individual consumer is, and what he or she might want at any given time – a business currency than no organisation can afford to risk.

Following GDPR, businesses will need to do everything in their power to ensure continued access to this data. It is for this reason that good data stewardship will become critical to every business.

Building digital trust

The power of data stewardship can be boiled down to one thing: trust. By taking care of personal data, and giving customers free and easy access to this data, organisations will earn a reputation as one that can be trusted. What’s more, good data stewardship creates a virtuous circle: the better you handle customer data, the more likely customers will be willing to trust you with increasing amounts of their data.

And customers are very much in the driving seat here. There’s a direct correlation, therefore, between trust in a brand and the quality and depth of the personal data they can draw upon to further improve their customer propositions.

Companies that view this new era of data privacy and protection as an opportunity to build digital trust – rather than as just another compliance burden – will therefore position themselves for a larger share of value and continued loyalty from their customers. A recent global study showed that eight out of 10 consumers said that ‘trust’ is a key driver of brand loyalty; and 45% reported switching providers because they lost trust in them.

Consumers in the past have voted with their wallets; in the digital age, they’ll increasingly vote with their data. This all begs a very important question: in light of GDPR, how can businesses build a reputation as a trusted data steward? There are four considerations to keep in mind.

See also: The winding road to GDPR compliance

1. Focus on the customer journey

Drive GDPR into your organisation through enriched customer journeys and business processes, rather than just through a technology or compliance approach. By inspiring teams with a vision of a transformed customer journey, you will enthuse the entire organisation with the opportunities ahead.

2. Empower cross-functional teams

GDPR requires a coming together of compliance, business and technology to ensure the changes that are being driven are balanced. If this is going to be achieved with any success, then you will need to put in place cross-functional teams and empower them to make decisions quickly.

3. Create a simple program structure

Keep the programme structure as simple as possible so teams can communicate easily and keep the end goal in mind. We’ve seen companies create over 100 GDPR programme nodes by developing many categories of the regulation for each of their business units – a level of complexity that renders the program too cumbersome.

4. Investigate a wide range of tools

There’s not going to be a panacea for GDPR. You’ll need to look at a wide range of tools to enable different aspects of your program. Many of these tools are in development and will evolve over time.

GDPR is ushering in a very different business world. Change is inevitable and the only thing that can be influenced is whether companies treat it as a threat or an opportunity. Businesses that use GDPR as a catalyst to overhaul customer experiences and deliver transparency to consumers will quickly find themselves in a leadership position.


Sourced from Nick Taylor, MD, Accenture Strategy


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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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