Direct Marketing Association says companies may not be ready for GDPR

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With just a few days to go before the deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, a lot of talk is about whether or not people and companies in the UK are ready.

According to a new survey by the Direct Marketing Association, 81% of UK marketers feel ready for GDPR, but a concerning number believe their employers may not be.

GDPR awareness is at its highest level since 2016 and 81% of marketers feel prepared – although 7% say their employers still have no plan in place, adds DMA.

The deadline for Europe's most significant overhaul of consumer data privacy laws is on the horizon – 25th May to be exact. The DMA has published research that finds UK marketers' confidence in their GDPR preparations is at an “all-time high”.

The new DMA report, titled GDPR & You – Chapter 5, found that 81% of marketers are confident in their understanding and preparedness for GDPR, having steadily grown from 49% since the DMA's first survey in 2016. However one in five (20%) of marketers state that their employers are behind schedule and will not be ready to comply with GDPR by 25 May.

Worse still, 7% state that their organisation do not have a plan in place for GDPR. Although not being enforced until 25 May, the transition period for organisations to become GDPR compliant began two years ago.

Since then the DMA has monitored the awareness and key concerns of the UK marketing community. There is a growing belief that the benefits of the new regulations to consumers outweigh the disadvantages to businesses, with more than half (52%) of marketers believing this to be true.

Chris Combemale, CEO of the DMA, said: “It is encouraging to see that GDPR awareness and preparedness is at an all-time high, with marketers increasingly optimistic about the benefits of the new legislation.

“GDPR is a fantastic opportunity for organisations to build consumer trust and highlight to their customers the benefits of sharing their data. Organisations should use it to build a culture within their business of putting the consumer first and improving their experience.”

68% of marketers believe their employer is either on track or ahead of schedule with GDPR compliance. Combemale noted that the report found that one in four marketers' (27%) believe their organisations are either behind schedule or without a plan.

He said: “While the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has stated that they will be pragmatic before handing out penalties, these companies must show evidence that they are doing everything in their power to be ready.

“Otherwise they won't just be receiving fines from the ICO; they could lose their customers' trust and be at risk of security breaches, with the reputational damage posing a real threat to brand and share value.”

One of the biggest priorities for marketers and their organisations surrounding GDPR revolves around staff training – with a spike in the past six months in the percentage of marketers who feel they have received appropriate training for GDPR, up 21% from November 2017 to 54% in the latest survey.

But it is a concern that despite the complexities of GDPR compliance and its impact on how organisations communicate with customers, more than a quarter of marketers polled (27%) have had no specific training to date.

34% felt that more training was needed and approximately 68% believed training will help their organisation comply beyond the deadline.

Combemale said: “GDPR is a watershed moment for organisations as they strive to make data protection a core brand value. That journey won't end on May 25th and industry professionals must continue to learn and adapt as they – and their consumers – get to grips with the new legislation.

“Therefore, ongoing training and support is essential for organisations to reap the rewards of GDPR.”

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