If, like many UK companies, you have recently spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for the introduction of GDPR, you may be struggling to see any real benefits from the new requirements.
Certainly, the irony has not been lost that the very regulations aimed at reducing unwanted email correspondence has been responsible for dramatically increasing this traffic over recent weeks. This will have inevitably been a distraction from a company’s core business as they have focused on contacting their customer lists.
However, now that the 25th May has finally arrived and the new legislation is in place, it’s time to sit back and review whether the longer-term benefits of the changes may make the recent months of activity worthwhile.
With that in mind, here are five key benefits that GDPR could deliver to your business:
- Increased Productivity
The fact that we should all see a dramatic decrease in junk mail is a clear benefit. In theory we should now only receive communications from companies that we are interested in remaining in contact with, rather than those whose data base we ended up on and whose products are of no interest to us.
The benefits in this reduction in distractions hitting your staff’s inboxes could be substantial as research has shown that these types of minor interruptions can have a significant effect on our concentration levels.
A study by the University of California found that it could take upwards of 20 minutes for an individual to regain their former levels of concentration after this type of distraction. An experiment conducted by the University of London also found that we can lose in the region of 10 IQ points when our concentration is interrupted in this way. Therefore, any reduction in the level of emails is likely to have a positive effect on your staff’s ability to concentrate and perform better.
- Spring Clean Your Data
In many ways the new regulations can be seen as rather like a good spring clean, by forcing companies to review and refresh the data they hold. By ensuring that data is accurate and up to date, you’ll avoid wasting time with out of date information. You will also be able to be more targeted in your marketing to customers, focusing on those who are actively interested in engaging with you and not wasting time on those who just want to be left alone. The effect of which could be to help make your marketing spend more targeted, effective and potentially go further.
- Improved Customer Care Culture
Customers will view companies positively that actively embrace the drive to improve and protect personal privacy.
Those organisations with more flair and ingenuity may see the obligatory Privacy Notice as a way of making a public declaration to their customers which says a lot about the way that they operate. With most companies producing off the shelf bland statements to go on their website, this could be your chance to stand out and to speak to people in a way that positively promotes and engages customers with your company’s culture.
This is also an opportunity for you to address your staff culture when it comes to customer care. With around 50% of security breaches being caused by careless employees, the reputational risks and potential damage to customer relationships are significant. So are the fines that can be levied by the ICO for privacy breeches. Therefore, it is important to address the culture to make sure all staff take responsibility for data security and the part that they play. Whilst disciplinary codes may be tightened up to make individuals more accountable, forward thinking organisations will take this opportunity to positively engage with staff and reinforce a culture of genuine customer care and respect.
- Transparency – it’s all clear now
GDPR requires companies to be transparent in relation to how and why they are processing customer data. They can only use the data for the purposes that it was provided for, they must ensure it’s current and only held for as long as is needed.
The positive to this is that this level of transparency should lead to improved, trusting relationships between companies and their customers. Companies that promote transparency may also see a positive impact on performance as a result of improved consumer confidence.
- Go Green!
The cost of all the junk email circulating the system goes beyond the issues of lost time and productivity.
According to the Guardian, the energy costs created by the sending, sorting and filtering of spam email accounts for 33bn units of electricity each year and creates a carbon footprint of around 135kg for an average business user. That’s the equivalent of driving around 200 miles in an average car.
Research by McAfee claims that around 62 trillion spam messages are sent every year, using 33bn kilowatt hours of electricity and causing around 20 million tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year.
For any company who claims to consider wider environmental issues, these are important facts. It’s worth making sure your company website and literature reflect any pro-active steps taken to reduce unwanted correspondence as this will support your green credentials.
What Does the Future Hold?
Given that research earlier this year from the Institute of Directors revealed that 30% of company directors hadn’t heard of the GDPR, the chances are that there are still a considerable number of organisations who have yet to fully embrace the new regulations. Therefore, it may be some time before we see any evidence of enforcement by the ICO, as they ensure that all companies take on board the new requirements.
However, once this possible period of leniency is over we can probably expect to see some high-profile cases where breeches have been found. This will make it all the more important to accept the enviable and embrace the changes. Therefore, by focusing on the positives, companies can reap the benefits and maximise the opportunities that the new regulations present.