Let’s get one thing clear – data is the lifeblood of every business. Recent European data protection reforms helped us realize that data is also valuable and should be treated with great care by both consumers and businesses. Many companies are now offering their services to consumers searching for smart methods that would enable them to control their personal information. Here’s how new EU data protection reforms are expected to impact businesses and consumers alike.

EU takes a closer look at data

In December 2015, after almost four years of constant deliberation, the EU made a provisional agreement on European data protection reform which aims to render the continent “fit for the digital age”.

Setting up the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one step. The next is two years given to companies to implement and comply with new rules or face massive fines. The Regulation is a long and complex document, exploring a broad range of issues such as data portability, data breach notification or the “right to be forgotten”. All in all, the reform aims to allow people regain control of their personal data.
Why would the EU tackle such a matter?

A recent Eurobarometer survey made it clear that 67% of Europeans worry about not having complete control over data they provide online. Moreover, 70% of consumers are genuinely worried that companies might use this information in nefarious ways.

And there’s a good reason to think about the amount of data being stored by companies. Recent trends in business transparency powered the emergence of websites offering key business information, including names of top executives and annual returns – all entirely for free.

The Companies House recently released their data to the public interested in exploring the UK market. Australians can get their business data from websites which offer full access to constantly updated information about Australian companies.

The GDPR introduced significant changes in the industry which all aim to reduce the opacity of business data usage. Thus, they will seriously affect the everyday reality of every marketer interested in gathering and analyzing consumer data.

Privacy is a top priority today, and with major data controversies on our cultural horizon (like Edward Snowden’s revealing report) businesses need to adjust their data policies in order to ensure that consumers feel that their data is protected and won’t be sold to any third parties.

Marketing shift

Until today, entire analytics ecosystems were built with the consumer in mind. Marketers could find, define and track customers with connected data sets, cookies and tracking devices. All this with the purpose to create a more personalized experience. But the new regulations are bound to affect this as well, giving us a chance to redefine the value of consumer data to marketers.

Some experts claim that there is one quite simple way to deal with the data protection reform – why not ask consumers to provide the data themselves? People are more aware than ever about the value of personal data and consider it their property. Without a solution to rely on, consumers will now turn to companies which will empower them to take full control of their data and how it’s being shared to businesses. Businesses, on the other hand, will now learn to respect customers and treat their data with extra care.

It’s safe to say that current data protection reforms will bring a new focus on trust as the most important element in the relationship between businesses and customers. To properly manage the problem, companies will now have to become more transparent than ever about their data practices.

In the face of the EU data protection regulations, businesses will need to change their policies and allow consumers to understand what type of data is collected and how it’s being used to make the product or service better and more relevant to their needs.

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