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When Privacy Forces Policy

Let’s start with the importance of trust in the relationship you have with brands. When you jump into an Uber, you trust the driver will get you to a specified location safely. When you enjoy a bowl of General Mills Cheerios you trust it will be healthy, fill you up for a bit, and not make you sick. When you sign up for Facebook and upload your life daily, you trust your data will be used only for good and visible only the people you specify.

If we don’t trust brands or have a positive relationship, it has an impact on our economy and how our society functions. Our collective trust in governments, business and institutions is on the decline and currently sits at an all time low. This leads to efforts like the GDPR, (General Government Protection Regulation) yes, the most boring acronym since NA.

GDPR is a European Union movement to protect citizens from nefarious users of our data, i.e. brands who have destroyed trust by not protecting our data (financial institutions) or social media networks who have sold our data. So, basically, the rest of the world has to comply with a new regulatory environment because a select few have done swarthy, or idiotic things with our data. Or, more precisely put, the EU is attempting to regulate trust, as it relates to our data and big brands.

Shifting gears, this writer is thinking in future tense, because well, May 25 is the data drop deadline and these pixels are being formed on May 21st. This creates two opportunities. First, it begs for a prediction of what will happen and second, how it might impact your sales and marketing efforts.

Prediction: the date will pass without a sonic boom, similar to the Y2K and databases everywhere will go continue on without sweating.

Then, when UK regulators come back from vacation, after a bounty of violations have piled up, the fines will start to drop. Just as many people pulled out of Facebook recently, other larger companies and brands will get called out for their violations and movements away from those brands will happen, enmass. The result will be many of us, as human beings, will have a more distant relationship with many brands and a closer relationship with fewer brands. Thank you Amber Christian for pointing out this with me over lunch.

The question for you is do you want to have closer or more distant relationships with your customers?

Our data is becoming more personal and more visible than ever before. It is a central part of our identity and those who are seen to exploit it are banished faster than an anime meme. But, for those looking to have a closer relationship with customers, GDPR is an opportunity. As you shed light on the data you can show how data is used to provide a helpful, personal and a more human experience. If it is just about updating preferences on your mail list, then you’ve missed the point and the opportunity.

Here’s another way to look at it. If data is highly personal and central to our identity, you could compare it to a naked photo of your customer. What would your leadership team do with it? Would anyone give their picture to Mark Zuckerberg? When it comes to data, this is the kind of care you need to consider when handling it. If you’re exploiting data for your benefit, you’d better have a real and practical way for it to equally benefit your customer.

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