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Wunderman Thompson Antwerp


GDPR: From doomsday scenario to opportunity

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes 

A lot has already been written about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new European regulation on the collection, use and storage of personal data of EU citizens that will become effective as of 25 May 2018. Specialized news outlets are reporting on GDPR for months. Numerous blog posts have already been published on the risks & the dangers for data-collecting organizations. The prediction that more than half - or were it 80%? - of the companies won’t be ready by 25 May 2018 seems to resonate like a shiver down the spine of the industry.

 What we miss in this kind of reports and predictions is the bigger picture. A move in society that explains the need for GDPR-style regulation in the first place. We are convinced insights in this context can help in taking the right choices and, eventually, win at GDPR. 

The risks and benefits of data disclosure

GDPR, and the need for privacy regulations as a whole originates from two contrasting trends in society. It is true that more than ever before, society is focused on privacy and the risks that exist in sharing personal information. Privacy is a hot topic in media worldwide, major data hacks take place and new privacy-safe web browsers, apps and plugins launch on a near-monthly basis. Yet, the disclosure of personal data is not only a story of privacy risks. For many, sharing personal data has valuable benefits. In the core, people share personal information with each other to gain trust, to bond and build relationships. Yet today, more than ever, people are also happily sharing information with organizations. Waze promises traffic-free travels, yet it also knows exactly when you are at work or at home. June offers a reduction on your energy bill if you let them manage your energy contracts. The Finnish Bank of Åland tracks all your expenses, but also offers you highly personalized tips and tricks to help you reduce your carbon footprint. An interesting tension can be seen in society, but also often in the individual person; a simultaneous focus on risks and benefits of data disclosure. Kaspersky’s ‘data dollar store’ campaign is a fine example of this internal dilemma.

To win at GDPR, address both parts of the tension

Every business that treats customer data should, therefore, address both sides of the tension. Valuable opportunities remain unexplored when focusing only on the risk-aspect of data disclosure - as many do at this very moment - leading up to GDPR. Emphasizing the benefit-aspect of data disclosure is at least as important. The future is for those companies that prove to be customer-centric when it comes to personal data and provide real value while showcasing data mastery.

Based on the described tension, the perceived data mastery of your company can be increased by providing products, services and communication that 1) reduce the perceived risks of data disclosure, 2) highlight the benefits of sharing personal data.

Starting from this insight, three levels of data mastery can be derived: the ‘olympic minimum’, the ‘trusted partner’ and the ‘data hero’. The Olympic minimum, starting from 25 May 2018, will mean GDPR compliancy. A lot of efforts will initially be put in reducing risks, while highlighting benefits will not be a priority.


With big data comes big responsibility

Yet, we are convinced that, when companies gather more data, it does no longer suffice to do the minimum and be solely GDPR compliant. Customers will expect real value in return. Big data processors as Facebook, Spotify or Netflix already know this. Facebook’s privacy check-up is a world-class example of reducing risks, while they highlight the benefits of sharing data by daily offering fun memories of long-forgotten events. Spotify’s ‘your year in music’ is a ‘data hero’-level way of providing value based on your data. Netflix mines customer data to decide which movies to produce while entertaining their followers on Twitter by posting witty data-inspired comments. 

In short, GDPR will be the start of a major transition in how companies will use data and communicate about data. We are convinced that the winners of this transition will be those who take on GDPR as an opportunity to install or improve a customer-centric data approach, by both reducing data risks and highlighting data benefits.

 This blog post is part of the introduction of our Wunderman GDPR workshop.
For more information on GDPR or our workshops, feel free to contact [email protected].

Author: Evert Van den Broeck, Strategic Planner at Wunderman Antwerp
Category: Data, Email marketing, GDPR