2018 is here, and with it the day when Europe’s new general data protection regulation, more commonly known as GDPR, becomes effective: May 25, 2018. Less than a few months away, the enforcement of this regulation is being given a lot of grief, mostly because of the restrictions and sanctions it lays out. Faced with the rising concerns of many companies – only a fraction of which have declared themselves already compliant – it’s our aim to take a temperate look at this regulation, make sense of it and unlock its positive potential.
More than 20 years have passed since the 1995 data protection directive. New technologies keep flourishing at raging speed as our world grows increasingly digital and data-driven. Simply put, the GDPR positions the human individual at the heart of all our relational exchanges and as such opens up a host of opportunities for brands to create value by building a trust-based relationship that will improve customer experience and also drive innovation.
GDPR compliance does mean having to consolidate or redesign the technology, legal framework and operational procedures connected to personal data processing and set up new mechanisms of control. But beyond these necessary measures lies a real chance to reinvent a customer journey and develop a relationship that freely and proactively involves consumers. The days of passive data collection are gone. Today, data processing will be selective, consensual, open to rectification and transferable based on the consumer’s decisions.
See our article: Customer Journeys: how brands can transform ‘moments of truth’ into ‘moments of magic’ and create business opportunities…
Transforming personal data into relational data
“With this regulation comes the opportunity to adapt data processing to our relational behaviors,” said Emmanuel Richard, Executive Director of Extens Consulting, a firm of Sitel Group. “Customers will be able to effectively shape the relationship they have with brands by choosing the information they wish to share and the way they prefer sharing it: how they’d rather be contacted, in what format and how frequently.”
10 years from now, the volume of circulating data will have reached 163 zettaoctets. However, 96 percent of consumers admit to being dissatisfied with the level of personalization of the customer experience they have with brands. Processing volumes of personal data does not mean you understand your customer or his or her context.
“We’re reaching a more personalized relationship, but we’re still incapable of singularizing it, which is what makes it an unforgettable human relationship,” explains Richard.
 IDC, Data Age 2025, 2017
 Sitecore Study, 2017
The customer journey at the heart of a singularized human relationship
Personal data is the information that’s strictly related to a person’s identity: it’s a name, a number, etc. – whereas singularized personal data expresses a person’s intention. Brands who can tap into what customers have to offer in terms of what and how personal data is shared will move from big data to small and more importantly smart data. In short, to graduate from a personalized relationship to a singularized human relationship.
“Today, 50 percent of consumers abandon their online purchases because the customer journey does not reassure them regarding what will happen to the personal information they provide,” said Richard. “With more than 15 years of experience and expertise analyzing, designing and reinventing customer journeys, our teams can discern the most decisive points of interaction between brands and consumers. Data processing is, as such, a “moment of truth” you can positively leverage to improve the customer’s experience and align it with how and what he or she chooses to disclose in terms of information that, ultimately, belongs to him or her. This regulation will help brands do precisely that.”