A third of marketers feel unprepared for new data laws

Many marketers feel “unprepared” for the newly passed EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and believe senior management must take responsibility to ensure their business is ready to adapt, new research says.

The GDPR regulation will come into force in May 2018, and is set to change the way businesses hold, process and deal with all customer data. The new framework also aims to help brands build long-term relationships with customers based on transparency and trust.

READ MORE: Countdown kicks off for EU data regulation changes

The research by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) shows widespread awareness of the incoming changes, with just 6% of marketers reporting they have ‘no awareness’ of the new regulation.

However, just under a third (30%) of those surveyed believe their company is unprepared for the new rules, even though 42% believe their marketing efforts will be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ affected by GDPR.

There was a noticeable difference between the views of B2B and B2C marketers. While awareness appears to be 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%).

Looking to the board for guidance

The research also found that one in five marketers (22%) believe senior management must take responsibility for ensuring their organisation is fit and ready for GDPR. 

Meanwhile, 21% of those asked admitted they do not know specifically where responsibility for GDPR should lie, while almost a third (30%) selected more than one department and one in 10 (9%) stating everyone in the organisation is responsible.

Speaking on the research, Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA, says: “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.”

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