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A third of businesses feel âunpreparedâ for GDPR, according to marketers

Research from the DMA highlights the need for board-level leadership, while exploring marketers’ expectations and concerns about the new legislation

The newly passed EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will change the relationship between companies and customers in use of their personal data. These new laws will come into force in May 2018 to provide consumers with greater protection by changing how businesses hold, process and deal with all customer data. The new framework will also help brands safeguard their own reputation by building long-term relationships with customers’ based on transparency and trust.

In the first of the DMA’s bi-annual studies into the marketing industry’s awareness and preparedness for the GDPR, the results show widespread awareness of the incoming changes, with just 6% of marketers reporting they have ‘no awareness’. However, a third (30%) of those surveyed believe their company is ‘unprepared’ for the new rules, while 42% believe their marketing efforts will be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ affected by GDPR.

According to the research, one in five marketers (22%) agreed that ‘senior management’ must take responsibility for ensuring their organisation is fit and ready for GDPR. Making the programme of change over the next two years a board-level issue that the entire business should be aware of too. This was reinforced by the findings that 21% of those asked admitting that they do not know specifically where responsibility for GDPR should lie, while almost one third (30%) selected more than one department and one in ten (9%) stating everyone in the organisation is responsible.

Chris Combemale, CEO of DMA Group, comments: “Data is at the heart of the modern economy and as an industry, we must be responsible for our actions when handling consumer data and create new frameworks that fit with the GDPR. Data protection is now firmly a board-level issue and should be seen as a critical business risk, rather than a compliance issue alone. Loss of customer trust, security breaches and the reputational damage of fines could pose risks to brand and shareholder value. As well as protecting consumers, the new legislation also provides a framework for businesses to ensure the potential economic opportunities that digital transformation and big data offer are fully realised.”

Customer data, not just consumer data

There was a striking difference between the views of B2B and B2C marketers. For example, while awareness appears to be fairly consistent across both marketing disciplines (87% for B2B and 93% B2C), consumer marketers reported being significantly more ‘prepared’ (68%) for the new rules than their business-focused counterparts (36%). This could be connected to just 25% of B2B marketers believing they will be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ affected by the new GDPR rules, compared to 36% for marketers that described themselves as B2B and B2C, while for B2C marketers this proportion rose to almost two-thirds (66%).

To find out more about the research or the latest range of GDPR-related advice, events, guides and training, visit: On the 30th September 2016, the DMA will also be hosting its next Data Protection 2016 – GDPR Update summit, where professionals will have the opportunity to discuss the latest implications and updates to GDPR affecting the new data privacy landscape.

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