With the General Protection Data Regulation (GDPR) looming, over half (59%) of marketers are yet to receive any GDPR-related training from their employer or otherwise, according to a study from the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM).

Coming into force on May 25 this year, the regulatory update will align data protection laws across the continent and hand back control of personal data to the customers. Ahead of its implementation, the IDM finds that 57% of marketers feel they are “under-trained” when it comes to the regulation while over half of businesses have appointed a data protection officer (DPO) to oversee the transition.

“When the GDPR comes into force it will change the marketing landscape in a way not seen before,” said Jane Cave, manager director at IDM; “Beyond the threat of financial sanctions, the new laws offer businesses a unique opportunity to change the relationship with customers around their data.

GDPR an opportunity?

The study comes as the IDM is launching its new professional certificate for DPOs, which accompanies its suite of other training available for marketers of all levels. The new course, developed with the DMA, will help those who aspire to the role of DPO as well as those who need to understand why and how they should recruit a DPO for their organisation.

GDPR will change the way businesses access customer data, involving more processes in terms of recording, accessing and maintaining data. Furthermore, companies will face legal action if they fail to comply with the rules, meaning dedicated time and training is needed to deal with the implications it could have on marketers.

“As such, it’s of the utmost importance that organisations are prepared for these changes, either through upskilling their own employees or ensuring a fully qualified DPO is able to guide them through it.” added Cave.

Looking at it from a customer-centric perspective, Chris Dobson, director of consultancy at Aquila Insights said that marketers need to spend time looking at the “bigger picture” and the opportunities they’ll be presented with – including what customers want, improving strategies, smarter data and secured keeping.