Proactively Gearing Up for GDPR is Good for SMBs

If you’re like many small businesses, you may have heard of GDPR but are still unclear about how this could affect your data storage and communication strategies.

This European law around data protection and personal privacy, called the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) takes full effect on May 25, 2018. While this is strictly a law for those doing business with individuals in Europe at this time, many analysts believe that the rules and regulations will quickly migrate to the United States — where they will affect many more businesses and individuals. Ultimately, these rules around data collection and storage are expected to facilitate data sharing and processing between organizations by creating standards that are more easily understood.  Even if you are not currently doing business in Europe, proactively gearing up to meet these more stringent standards is a solid business decision. Focusing on GDPR requirements forces your business to evaluate the data storage infrastructure you will need to effectively manage communication between various stakeholder groups such as customers, vendors and employees.

Creating a Data-Driven Model

One of the key methods that organizations (of all sizes) are using to become GDPR compliant is creating a data-driven model for their business. While this sounds relatively simple, it could involve complexities such as consolidating legacy data, centralizing access to data and tightening up security procedures. While these all sound like worthy pursuits for any organization, the layers involved for a mid-size or enterprise business can be overwhelming. Moving from an application-centric approach to a data-driven model is a true paradigm shift and could involve rethinking the entire infrastructure — something that will not happen overnight. However, payoffs in the form of enhanced privacy for individuals and a more cohesive communications delivery mechanism are significant.

Consolidating Communications

Today, consumers are being bombarded with emails that contain sales offers, product information, news and other informational updates. While some of these messages are highly relevant, others can be off-putting and viewed as junk mail or spam. It’s critical that time-sensitive messages reach individuals when they need them – and that won’t happen if communications from your organization are immediately discounted by the recipient. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to target communications to the right audiences is to use a consolidated communications platform that allows you to tailor unique messages in a way that would be difficult if you’re using multiple messaging tools. Combining customer information into one data-driven platform provides you with a way to manage access much more easily than if data were spread through various verticals within your business.

One of the key challenges around cyber security today is reducing employee error. Employees who set weak passwords, share sensitive data with co-workers or click on infected links increase the risks of a data breach. When you create stringent processes and procedures around security and pair that with proactive communications, you’re one step closer to providing complete protection of tangible and intangible assets.

Improving Data Accuracy and Security

Most organizations today have customers who are geographically diverse, whether they’re scattered throughout the U.S. or around the globe. Maintaining a high level of contact data accuracy is critically important as you reach out to your various audiences. A platform that not only protects your data but makes it easy for individuals to update their contact information will put your business far ahead of the competition. Customers want the “easy button”: a simple way to manage all their information and activity online from any device or method of their choosing. The GDPR regulations are very clear around reviewing your data security policies, including:

  • Auditing and documenting the types of data used by your websites
  • Reviewing security policies
  • Eliminating any data or modifying retention policies to eliminate data that is no longer needed
  • Obtaining user consent for any personal data such as email addresses, names, birthdates and addresses

Consent required must be clear and affirmative, not passive as many organizations have gathered data in the past.

Getting ready for GDPR will require a great deal of time and effort for your organization, but there are some steps that you can take that will set you on a springboard to compliance. Consolidating your communications into a single, GDPR-compliant platform can help you keep track of personal data access and usage throughout your organization.

Learn more about how GDPR will impact small businesses through a free webinar on May 23 at 2pm Eastern Time. Space is limited — reserve your spot today!