Why small businesses should embrace GDPR and be ready for May 25

GDPR Small businessData is vital for many businesses looking to take their productivity and profitability to the next level. Yet according to our research, 56% of UK small businesses have concerns about their current data collection processes.

With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to become law in May 2018, every UK business needs to ensure that the way data is collected fully complies with the new laws.

Many businesses see GDPR as a threat, but as Ian Woolley of Ensighten explains, it also brings opportunities that small businesses can capitalise on.

The big difference between large enterprises and those of small and medium size businesses is their access and ability to analyze large pools of data – smaller businesses traditionally feel they have not had the same purchase on the ‘data economy’ to unlock its full value.

However, it’s a common misconception that more data equals more value and insights. The truth of the matter is that having smaller pools of high-quality customer data can prove to be more valuable for SMEs.

GDPR will see a step-change in data collection

With the GDPR becoming enforceable on all companies doing business with EU citizens from 25th May 2018, without discrimination of business size, there must be a bottom-up restructure for how organisations think about data.

As GDPR legislates a complete reform of how personal data is sourced, protected, and used, it will critically, hold businesses accountable for the data they hold on behalf of their customers. One of the crucial elements of the GDPR is the need for fully informed and explicit consent from customers before their data is taken or used.

GDPR ultimately presents an opportunity for businesses to hone their data by increasing its accuracy and its value. With scant weeks to go until the enforcement date, this article outlines ways small and medium-sized businesses can get their data into great shape to unlock business value that will pay dividends.

Embrace GDPR, do not fight it

One of the main concerns from all businesses is that the size of their data pool is going to be reduced as most data that was collected prior to GDPR (likely not to GDPR standards) will no longer be legal to use. However, this presents several opportunities for businesses to take.

Putting in place processes and technology to greatly assist in making the identification and management of personal data much more achievable is key. Good data management is crucial and something that is all too often neglected.

The introduction of GDPR is going to put these management processes under deeper scrutiny. Making sure that all prior collected data is managed appropriately before 25th May will be a big step towards the final goal of GDPR compliance.

Quality of data over quantity

The fact that data pools may become smaller is an opportunity for brands and marks a positive step towards rich value data – doing away with digital waste.

With GDPR, from the first interaction the user has with your website, they will need to be made aware of what data is being collected and for what purpose. Explicit consent must be gained for the use of personally identifiable information for business use.

Inevitably some users will deny you access to their data, however, those who do allow you access to their data will do so knowingly and are willing for you to use it in the ways outlined when consent is given.

This, for many, will mark an end to digital leafleting with the blind hope that a small percentage will link to the latest product and will whittle customer lists down to only those who are actually going to respond positively to marketing. This decrease in waste means businesses can make sure their most valued customers and prospects are being targeted appropriately when needed, raising profitability.

Make sure all bases are covered

Dealing with old data before the GDPR deadline is one thing, but what about any new data that you will be collecting? Any new data that is collected must have a due record of informed consent.

For transparency, you must ensure there is sufficient justification for storing the data. Do you have these people’s permission for storing their data? And, do they know what they have signed up for? Having answers to all of these questions will go a long way in becoming GDPR compliant.

Once you have collected data in the correct manner, the next question is how you store it, as at any given time, the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) can request to a data audit and a consumer can ask for their data.

It must be easily discoverable, it must be kept confidential at all times, must be kept safe. There also needs to be a privacy notice in all communications with clients and associates.

Once all of these have been met you can be much more at ease when collecting new valuable personal customer data.

GDPR is an opportunity not an obstacle

According to our research, two thirds of UK marketers (66%) see GDPR as a strategic opportunity as a strategic opportunity. However, 42 per cent know that their brand website are not yet compliant. This presents an opportunity to get ahead of the game.

By managing the required changes sooner, you will both be closer to complete compliance and providing a better user experience by not confusing your online users with a rushed new look and consent options in May.

Your technology platform will be how consumers interact with the implementation of GDPR, and therefore it is important that it helps to build brand trust and consumers become increasingly aware of their new rights.

GDPR can be a change for good

When all these steps are taken successfully and GDPR is adhered to it can provide a better value exchange for everybody involved. While reliant on a personalised 1:1 privacy consent for all visitors, a well-designed solution will give these visitors a positive experience with respect to communications and interactions – and simplifies control over data collection by various marketing technologies.

Given the global reach of the internet, being able to build a system of trust and clear communication with valued users will have a crucial impact to how customers respond to their newly granted rights.

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