EU GDPR: Beyond Compliance

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to protect individuals’ personal data and facilitate the exchange of information for businesses that operate in the EU. It has new requirements for data collection and processing that include hiring dedicated Data Protection Officers (DPOs) to safeguard personal information of citizens. And those requirements must be met by the looming deadline of May 2018.

This requirement means that European firms will need to hire at least 28,000 DPOs, according to The Privacy Advisor’s research. This number is an estimate based on official statistics about public and private sector data controllers in the EU, taking into account a set of conservative assumptions. 

Data Management Helps with GDPR Compliance

To help their firms comply with the regulation, DPOs can streamline data management practices within their firms — and that comes with a silver lining: Underlying IT changes required for GDPR compliance will get customer data in better shape and give you the chance to build a 360-degree view of your employees, customers or citizens.

Compliance will undoubtedly be a complex task for large organisations given the volumes and types of data involved, but this new regulation offers the chance to profit from these efforts. Unravelling the labyrinthine web of data currently residing in numerous silos to comply with GDPR is key to finding the silver lining.

Technology Can Help Reduce GDPR Headaches

The specific GDPR requirements are still a movable feast at the country-specific level because each member state must interpret the regulation and decide upon its own recommendations and enforcement practices. Although it might seem hard at first glance to start preparations, there is a lot that can be done now, even without knowing the final requirements.

The first step is to get a consistent view of data that is spread across systems and in data siloes.

This presents organizations with an enormous potential data processing headache. But there is, in fact, an easy way to bring silos of data together. A flexible and enterprise-ready NoSQL technology is an excellent alternative. It automates a lot of the steps required to get the data together and search, manage, store and report on it. This reduces the costs of achieving compliance — and the ongoing operational costs of maintaining compliance — considerably, when compared to a manual approach.

How a 360-Degree View of Individuals Decreases GDPR Risk

It’s also possible to reap more long-term benefits from a 360-degree view of all individuals who interact with an organisation. So, what starts out as a risk reduction exercise to comply with GDPR, becomes a way of creating new revenue-generating applications and services for the business, while boosting customer satisfaction.

By gathering and identifying all of the personal data an organisation has on any individual, how and why this data is being used, and commonalities between data sets, organisations automatically gain valuable insights into the touch points for every individual. This can be leveraged to give customer service, marketing and sales teams a joined-up view of customers and prospects – a golden record, if you like, of everything relating to a customer (or in the case of a B2B organisation, individuals working for each customer).

The quantity of types of data can be enormous. Each golden record may include behavioural, social, transactional, descriptive and product/service data taken from multiple sources including CRM systems, analytics databases that record user click-through/search, web site registration systems, fulfilment systems, call centre audio records, marketing databases, LinkedIn and more.

With a 360-degree view of each customer, organisations can increase revenues and reduce churn by being better able to identify and manage customer interactions and target individuals with more tailored, contextual offers across multiple channels. Plus, customer satisfaction can be enhanced by giving customer-facing representatives all of the customer-specific information they need to respond to a customer’s request or complaint accurately and quickly.

There’s no doubt new legislation could send the IT team into a tailspin. But this time, look at it as a golden opportunity. And the icing on the GDPR data hub cake is that organisations can turn what started out as a risk reduction exercise into a genuine business value activity. These deeper customer insights give organisations a powerful platform from which to build a single, consistent and persistent customer view – and ultimately gain competitive advantage and drive up revenues.


By David Northmore, VP EMEA MarkLogic

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