Marketers at MarTech say GDPR is a watershed opportunity to engage with their customers
Consumer patience with companies that mishandle their data has worn thin, but some marketers say it's all leading to a more positive outcome in the near future.
Consumers are tired. They’re weary of hearing about data breaches every day. They’re fed up with the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle. And they’re ready to reclaim what should always have been theirs to begin with — their personal data.
That’s what Holly Rollo, chief marketing officer and senior vice president at RSA, and Rob Glickman, chief marketing officer at data platform Treasure Data, told me in two separate conversations when I spoke to them at the MarTech Conference on Tuesday in San Jose.
GDPR is changing the game
Both Rollo and Glickman see the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a game-changer.
GDPR is a sweeping set of European Union (EU) rules that mandate how entities handle EU citizens’ data no matter where they reside. The deadline for compliance is May 25, 2018. Organizations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4 percent of their annual global turnover or €20 million (whichever is greater).
“GDPR is a watershed moment, when you finally can’t get away with breaching trust anymore — consumers are raising their hands,” Glickman told me.
Rollo said that “as a society, we’re starting to understand more. It used to be that security was something that happened in a back room, now people are starting to understand that it has to do with me, and my digital footprint.”
“I see GDPR as being a great opportunity for us to leap over the process hurdles we haven’t been able to address. Customers and prospects will have a better experience, and you’ll be interacting with people who want to interact with you, which is ultimately what marketing wants to do,” Rollo said.
The explosion of data has left a mark
Rollo says that marketers will need to evolve their current privacy practices to keep up.
“I think any responsible company has a privacy program underway,” Rollo said. “For them, GDPR is just another regulation. I think that the issue is that in a world where everyone is transforming to digital, everything explodes. All the data explodes, all of the processes explode. How do you manage all that data? Suddenly, it’s like oxygen. A byproduct of digital transformation is data exhaust.”
Glickman told me that with the explosion of data came a deluge of niche companies that handle just one slice of consumer data. He said when marketers focus on just one area of the user’s experience, say a website, data that has been collected another way falls through the cracks.
“What if your tier one accounts have already contacted you and are in Salesforce?” Glickman said. “Your marketing department is on the website, but your most valuable customers have already spoken to you.”
Glickman said that whereas end users traditionally favored convenience, the tide is shifting, causing a seismic change in how consumers are increasingly regarding their privacy.
“On the surface, [GDPR] is a data privacy regulation, but it’s really about behaviors, what’s happening in society,” Glickman said. “People aren’t prioritizing convenience anymore.”
“The world is a different place than it was 30 years ago. We have companies openly supporting causes that they wouldn’t have before. The world has changed so dramatically. Companies are finally open to many themes that we should have been open to all along. There’s much more permission to lean in,” Glickman said.
Rollo said that though the time is ripe for the change, marketers need to work with their IT departments to ensure that the right processes and procedures are followed — and that third-party partners are vetted properly.
“Marketing people need to take a deep breath, make sure that their IT security and legal teams understand what they’re trying to do. Get their thoughts and inputs on the right process and requirements for that infrastructure (stack). It’s a team sport,” Rollo said. “We need to start with understanding third-party risk as it pertains to your stack.”
Getting it together
Both Rollo and Glickman spoke of the benefits of an integrated approach.
Rollo said that we need to stop working in silos. She expressed concern that cobbled IT departments, or shadow ITs, and the fast-moving nature of data in general, have created situations where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.
“Marketers are moving fast, and they don’t understand that they are building an infrastructure (stack) that needs to be protected,” she told me.
Glickman shared similar concerns and said that regulations such as GDPR will force function.
“[The trend toward a unified view of data privacy] has been percolating for years,” Glickman said. “It takes time for things to catch up. What GDPR is doing is forcing function. By pure chance, we have a seminal event that’s forcing companies to finally get it together. Because they’ll either be fined, or they’ll be dragged to Capitol Hill [to testify like Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg did earlier this month].”
Questions about GDPR? Download our free guide, The General Data Protection Regulation: GDPR — A Guide for Marketers.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.