Despite the hysteria and confusion, I am pleased to say that the threatened “GDPR data apocalypse” has not materialised and, at the start of 2019, I have never been more optimistic about data and the database marketing industry.
Far from damaging our industry, GDPR is eliminating those that do not treat data with the care, respect and attention that it deserves.
The volume of data may have reduced but the quality has definitely increased. And this presents an opportunity for all of the good brands. This flows through to all parts of our industry, whether you are a client, account manager, programmer, analyst or any other role.
Database management isn’t just about gaining consent once. Databases containing consumer information continually evolve and change. These assets need to be treated with respect and all business must do all that they can to keep them up to date and accurate. Forward thinking, data led, companies will continue to flourish. Those that are not as professional and do not respect their data and the law will be, quite rightly, found out.
Also, marketers are acknowledging that GDPR is significantly wider than consent and there is a growing realisation that the data quality obligations introduced by GDPR cannot be ignored. Article 5.1 (d) is clear: reasonable efforts must be made to keep all personal data held and processed by a business clean and up to date – or be deleted. And it has never been easier to keep data clean and accurate.
Automation will be a key trend in 2019, with Data as a Service (DaaS) solutions becoming more widely adopted for efficiently and securely maintaining data quality, optimisation and compliance.
This will be especially evident in the increasing adoption of real-time data delivery and decisioning via DaaS, a sophisticated and secure way of accessing real-time data. Organisations will turn to these automated systems to process huge volumes of data, while remaining GDPR compliant and supporting machine learning systems, which use algorithms to draw conclusions and make business decisions.
There is no excuse for poor quality, poorly managed data in 2019 and beyond.
Fuelled by good quality data, artificial intelligence and machine learning will also grow in prominence, with algorithms providing a scalable way for marketers to create unique experiences for consumers.
The importance and value of data as integral to business success is clearly being acknowledged at senior level.
According to Gartner, by 2021 the office of the chief data officer will be seen as a mission-critical function, comparable to IT, business operations, HR and finance in 75% of large enterprises. As the data landscape evolves, the CDO will have a vital role to play in helping businesses deploy information as a driver of profit and innovation, using it gain competitive advantage, retain customers and expand into new markets.
Third-party data, just as valuable post-GDPR
Despite some confusion and misinformation, third-party data is alive and well. Although we have been saying this for some time, I have borrowed from the recently published DMA advice, Using third party data under GDPR, which states: “There is nothing in the GDPR that prohibits the use of third-party data provided that it is undertaken in the right way, with the appropriate safeguards.”
The message is clear – and provides much needed clarity for marketers. The direct marketing industry can now have the confidence and conviction to continue to use responsibly sourced and permissioned third-party data to optimise their data and data strategy.
In 2019, another issue high on the agenda will be preparations for ePrivacy Regulations. Businesses will need to explore how they might have to change their electronic marketing techniques – with some potentially huge implications for email, telemarketing and programmatic methods. This year will see more clarity on what changes will be required under ePrivacy as the legislation evolves and moves towards implementation.
Businesses and marketers should see GDPR and ePrivacy as an opportunity to be more responsible and accountable, to get their data and data strategy in order. Get it right and the future is bright.
Jon Cano-Lopez is chief executive of REaD Group
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