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GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is fast becoming the top line on a lot of to-do lists – and with good reason. Customer data is what makes the business world go round, but have you thought about how valuable it really is to your company?

Data is a powerful tool that is imperative to the success of your business. An important factor to remember is that data is not something you have the right to; your customer has chosen to supply you with this information, and that is a privilege. If you make the decision to exploit the tool you have been given, you are in turn tarnishing the perception and the reputation of your business that you have worked so hard to build. For example, in recent news there has been a very public exposure of Cambridge Analytica and their autumn harvest of 50 million Facebook users. This has resulted in global uproar and in turn, a market value loss of $50bn dollars for Facebook and an irrevocably damaged reputation for both companies. Cambridge Analytica will no longer be the highly successful British Political consulting firm with over 30 years of experience, they will be that company forever associated with: “do you remember when 270,000 people took a quiz on Facebook to see what muppet they were and it resulted in the unconsented distribution of the data of 50 million people and potentially used it to deliver pro-Trump material to sway the US election of 2016?”.

The fundamental thing to remember about customer data is transparency. You must know where your data comes from; keep a database so you have an accurate reading of how you got it. You must know where it is going and where it is being stored and ultimately, protected. TalkTalk received their second fine in two years after customers began receiving calls from Wipro, an IT services company based in India, and finding they were able to quote their account numbers and addresses. Their first data breach in 2015 involved a cyber-attack and 160,000 customer bank details being stolen. Instances like this will only result in large fines and a complete overhaul in your brand perception and reputation.

The key is to keep your data requests clear and concise; give granular options when giving the consent options. A quick gain in the immediate vicinity may seem like a sure fire way to propel your business to the top, but a public data breach reveal 2 years down the line will damage your reputation beyond repair, something you will be hard-pushed to claw back. An association with dishonesty is enough to fold a business entirely and the ICO are not afraid to name and shame. It’s always best to keep it clean and show your customers the real value of them giving up their data and what you are willing to offer.

For more information on GDPR click here or give us a ring on 0117 311 8200.

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