The proliferation of digital channels over the past decade has made data deeply ingrained in everything we do.

The growth in data sharing has provided huge advantages for marketers and consumers alike. Consumers profit from streamlined data-driven services and personalised offers from brands across many sectors, including retail, travel and insurance. However, during this process, many companies have unfortunately found themselves holding large amounts of outdated information, partly due to the sheer amount they’re processing. The incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to completely overhaul and improve this situation.

Out with the old, in with the new

GDPR is set to address growing customer concerns about how their data is being used, by whom, and to essentially create an environment of better transparency. It replaces the outdated 1998 Data Protection Act, which came into force before the explosion of the digital age and doesn’t reflect the vast streams of diverse data collected in today’s age. In a nutshell, as of May 25, 2018, companies will need to be transparent about the processing activities the customer data will be used for. Come May, it will be an obligation and anyone in breach of the regulation will be punished with steep fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover.

How will GDPR benefit data quality?

GDPR is clear about what companies need to do in order to improve data quality. Article 5 of the regulation sets out the key principles relating to the processing of personal data with a strong emphasis on transparency of processing, data being collected for specific and legitimate purposes, adequacy and relevancy, and the accuracy of data, stating that ‘Every reasonable step should be taken to ensure that personal data which are inaccurate are rectified or deleted’.

The rise of innovative tech solutions

Many companies may be wondering how best to ensure adherence to this new, strict set of rules. Innovative Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions are available, which will essentially clean customer data in real time. By introducing DaaS into the marketing process, marketers can maintain the accuracy of data, target the right customers and ensure better decisions at every stage of the customer lifecycle. By following this process, marketers can ensure that a careful balance is maintained between what they intend to do with that data and what its customers expect to happen with it.

Predicted impact of GDPR

GDPR will transfer control back into the hands of the consumer, giving them more transparency about the data they chose to share and for what purposes. Customers seek personal experience, loyalty, convenience and deeper value, and GDPR will provide marketers with the opportunity to provide just that. Marketers should analyse their data, which will be more accurate when adhering to GDPR, to ensure more personalised, yet appropriate communication. The benefits for brands using data in the right way are powerful – return on investment is 30% higher for companies who use data and analytics to personalise their marketing and customer engagement, so there is a clear incentive to obtain customer consent regarding correct and complete data usage.

The necessary steps to become GDPR-ready must be taken as soon as possible. Marketers need to earn the right to be personal and can do this if they are clear in the way they recognise, identify, understand, interact with and reward their customers. They must, therefore, be using the remaining months in the lead up to the implementation to get GDPR ready. The regulation presents a fantastic opportunity for marketers and provides a perfect chance to earn permission and trust from individuals. If marketers succeed, they will unlock longer-term engagement and increase profitability, regardless of how the digital landscape may change in the coming years.