As you may have noticed, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an extremely hot topic right now and rightly so. Whether you’re still trying to make sense of exactly what the GDPR is or you have already started preparing to become compliant, you’ll know that aligning your company with the GDPR can’t be done overnight.
However, it may not be all doom and gloom. What if we stopped focusing on the burden of preparing for the GDPR and focused instead on how implementing the GDPR may ultimately benefit your business?
Start understanding your data
Many Irish companies have mountains of data about their customers. Look at GDPR compliance as the opportunity to begin categorising and understanding your data and, ultimately, your customers. There is no better tool than knowledge, so if you begin to really understand your customers you may be able to generate more value for them.
Weed the data bed
Many companies, quite possibly including yours, store data that is now redundant, obsolete or trivial. This data can be anything from emails belonging to former employees to HR records that are no longer relevant. The GDPR states any data your organisation holds on EU residents must have a lawful basis for processing (a term that encompasses collection and storage) and you have to be able to prove this. So why not take this opportunity to start clearing out the unnecessary (and possibly non-compliant) data your company is paying to store? Not only will this provide you with a nice clean database of customers, but it also has the potential to significantly reduce your company’s costs, ultimately allowing more money to be given to other budgets where it may be better used.
Create a more qualified pipeline
The primary objective of the GDPR is “to harmonise the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons in respect of processing activities and to ensure the free flow of personal data between Member States”. For much of the personal data you process, you will need to obtain consent from your customers. Getting consent from customers creates a fast-track to warmer leads. After all, if a potential customer actively consents to having their data processed, it’s likely that they are keen to find out what you can offer them.
Get greater clarity when dealing with customers in different countries
The GDPR is designed to provide a clear framework for all organisations to work under. At present, there are varying rules and stipulations regarding data protection, and organisations have to be aware of them all in order to do business. This is particularly difficult for Irish companies, as many have customers based in Northern Ireland, meaning that they need to be compliant with the UK Data Protection Act 1998 as well as Irish data protection law. The GDPR brings an end to this, and, in the process, will provide greater cohesion and much stronger data protection for everyone involved.
Create competitive advantage
Many companies, particularly those involved in B2B, know how difficult it can be to earn a place on their customers’ ‘approved suppliers’ list. Sometimes, you may see compliance with certain standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 27001, as a requirement for achieving approval. In the future, as complying with the GDPR is a legal requirement we will begin to see GDPR compliance as a pre-requisite to be included in a company’s ‘approved suppliers’ list. Being welcomed onto the ‘approved suppliers’ list can be difficult; you do not want to fall at the last hurdle simply because you have not achieved GDPR compliance. Your company could also be removed from ‘approved suppliers’ lists if you fail to comply with the GDPR. This reputational damage coupled with the large fines that can be imposed on companies found to be non-compliant should make the GDPR a priority for all Irish companies. Achieving GDPR compliance before the deadline and ahead of your competitors may open the doors to significant opportunities in the future.
Although there is a lot of work involved to achieve compliance, if you begin to look at the GDPR in a different light, you may begin to see it as a positive step forward that will ultimately benefit your company.
Take the first step towards implementing the GDPR in your business by attending our GDPR training in Dublin – limited places still available.