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Doc Searls and Gigya Agree: GDPR Offers Opportunity to Forge Customer-Centric Relationships

In a Gigya webinar last week, I got to peek into the future of marketing with the help of acclaimed author and consumer data privacy commentator Doc Searls. With the European Union ready to start enforcing its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in little more than six months, that future is coming up fast for enterprises around the globe!

Our talk explored some potential risks posed by this sweeping data privacy law, but also some exciting opportunities.

The Risks

As an Alumnus Fellow of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, Doc is uniquely positioned to comment on the past, present and future of digital relationships between businesses and consumers. He’s watched online marketing develop over the years and views GDPR as an extinction event for two common marketing practices.

The first is adtech. Doc said adtech is facing its doom  in privacy-conscious Europe both as a result of GDPR and because consumers are increasingly frustrated by it. “The wanton collection of personal data for the purpose of hitting people everywhere with guesswork about what they might want is going to fail,” he said.

The second is the use of third-party data. Doc said companies who had been relying heavily on third-party data are now scrambling. “I read a story that one of the big consulting firms who had been advising companies to acquire all the customer data they could . . . is now being paid millions of dollars by those same companies to help find where they put that data. It’s like this toxic asset – the radon gas of the company. It’s the silent killer that puts them at risk” of GDPR noncompliance.

The Opportunities

Doc and I agreed that GDPR offers opportunities for businesses to forge new, improved relationships with customers.

How so? According to Doc, it’s a chance to shift the organizational perspective on customer data. For too long, businesses have looked at customer data as “the new oil.” Yes they valued it, but the worth centered on the overall commodity. Thanks to data privacy laws like GDPR, companies will be required to instead value the customer relationship above everything else.

Doc explained: “It may actually pay some companies to say, ‘You know what? We’re wiping (our data) clean…We’re starting over with GDPR…’ Then they can say, ‘Hey customer, what do you want us to know about you?’ That may be a better way for some companies.”

I added that the companies who will thrive in the post-GDPR landscape will build trusted, two-way relationships with consumers. In order to do this, they need to provide two fundamental things: transparency and control.

“Organizations need transparency in the way they operate and the way they interact with consumers. On the other hand, they need to give control to their customers. Consumers need to feel in control of their personal data.”

How to Tap into the Opportunities

While it’s easy to talk about being transparent and giving customers control, actually achieving these goals is another matter.

Until recently, there hasn’t been a solution on the market that could address these issues effectively. Now, with Gigya Enterprise Preference Manager, brands can build trusted relationships with customers by giving them capabilities to manage their profiles, preferences and consent settings.

Gigya Enterprise Manager slide: 38% of consumers want transparency; 77% want control of their marketing communications; reduce the risk of regulatory scrutiny

Doc, who learned about this new solution along with many other webinar attendees, said: “Everything that we just saw in terms of Gigya’s offering is my wish list as a consumer . . . We need tools on our side. And I actually think Gigya is better positioned than anybody to help us.”

The Bottom Line

These few quotes are just a snapshot of the entertaining and impactful points we discussed during the webinar. If you’d like to watch the entire presentation, visit:

GDPR – The End of Marketing as We Know It, and Why That’s a Good Thing

If you’d like to learn more about Gigya Enterprise Preference Manager, you can register now for our webinar on December 13th. We’ll demonstrate our new product and explain how it can help you address key GDPR requirements.

By Rashmi Vittal

Gigya has updated its Privacy Policy as Gigya, Inc. has been acquired by SAP America, Inc. and Gigya has updated the information regarding how we collect and use your Personal Data. You can see the updated Privacy Policy here.