Artificially intelligent chatbots are dispensing online therapy, virtual reality is transporting us into far away galaxies, and the internet of things is making vehicles smart enough to drive themselves — we are hurtling at astonishing speed into the fourth industrial revolution.
For those who embrace these changes, there are many rewards to be reaped. As consumers interact with sophisticated devices, cars and bots, they generate huge stores of data about their likes, dislikes, needs, and habits. Using such insight, almost every aspect of business operations can be enhanced, from product optimization to targeted advertising.
But with more data access comes greater responsibility: consumer information must be used with care.
Fortunately, companies can fast track their way through digital transformation while keeping data secure. All they need to do is follow rulebooks written specifically for today’s connected world, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The changing security climate
By 2019 it’s predicted that 99% of multinational corporations will sponsor the use of wearable fitness tracking devices to improve corporate performance.
Digital technology is vital to our social, professional, and biological worlds. Consumers can use connected devices to do anything, anywhere: communicate, work, shop, catch a ride, or even check their heart rate. Businesses can leverage deep insight to better inform strategy and boost efficiency: by 2019 it’s predicted that 99% of multinational corporations will sponsor the use of wearable fitness tracking devices to improve corporate performance.
Yet technological development has moved so fast that data protection regulations haven’t been able to keep up, which has given companies a freer reign but also increased the risk of data misuse. Now, however, things are starting to change. As adoption of smart tools has grown, so have concerns about the data powering them — especially after high profile breaches at Yahoo, AOL, and Sony. Consumers want experiences to be both tailored and transparent, with full visibility into data usage. And legislation is finally catching up.
Enter the GDPR. While the European Commission issued the new laws, they apply to all companies processing the data of EU citizens, which means the enforcement date — May 25, 2018 — is set to have a sizeable global impact.
And while there’s little activity at federal level in the US, at state level we’re seeing considerable shifts in privacy law. This year, over 11 states have introduced over 21 proposed privacy laws, many following concerns from constituents over failed attempts to introduce federal rules and regulations.
And while there’s little activity at federal level in the US, at state level we’re seeing considerable shifts in privacy law.
California continues to lead the way in data protection – it was first state to enact a security breach notification law – and has now introduced a proposed ballot measure: the Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.
Getting a firmer hold on data
The principle aim of these laws and regulations is to enhance the rights of individuals, while giving them greater control over their personal data. The most significant regulation, the GDPR, stipulates companies must follow multiple robust rules, including asking for clear permission from consumers to access their data — which can be withdrawn — providing a copy of information if requested, and deleting insight they can’t prove is crucial to their business. And non-compliance could also land companies with fines as high as 4% of total global revenue or approx. $21.5 million (€20 million).
To stay on the right side of the laws, companies will need to ensure internal practices are watertight. And to do that, they must create one comprehensive view of overall data flow and deployment that allows them to assess, and adjust, their activities. Of course, this isn’t a small task; for most companies it will require a reorganization of data from several isolated systems into one shared repository. But it can be made simpler by harnessing models designed to merge fragmented insight, such as Universal Data Hubs (UDHs).
What’s more, the process of data consolidation delivers more than just GDPR compliance; it brings companies closer to meeting the ultimate goal of marketing: creating a 360-degree view of consumers. Traditionally, data has typically been siloed — for example, online and offline information is often stored separately, and channels are also further divided; with mobile, website, and email data frequently held within different databases. Yet this approach makes it hard to build a single picture of individuals or their journeys. As a result, it’s also difficult for marketers to create messages that resonate with specific consumers and form part of a consistently engaging cross-channel experience.
Bringing myriad data sources together goes a long way towards resolving this issue. With all information accessible under one roof, companies can trace unique paths to purchase and gain detailed insight into who consumers are, and what they want. Using this in-depth data, they can then deliver precisely targeted messages that both capture individual interest and drive results. Futuristic technologies, such as Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning, offer a wealth of benefits to marketers – from customer service chatbots to personalized advertising – but these tools are only as useful as the data that fuels its decision making. By ensuring their data is in optimal shape, marketers are best placed to embrace this new era of digitalization.
So, new data protection laws and regulations are not just an update to bring data procedures in line with the needs of the fourth industrial age; they can also be good for business. By encouraging companies to take back control of their data, eradicate silos and adopt a more holistic data perspective, new regulations will help generate the information needed to make sense of complex consumer journeys and turn modern connectivity to their advantage.
And, whichever way you look at it, such benefits are more than worth the effort of compliance.