Image: Vic/Flickr Image: Vic/Flickr

The new data protection regulations due to come into force in 2018 are as much an opportunity for business as they are a threat.

The customer: remember him, recall her. To say that the customer is crucial to any business is a bit like saying oxygen is important to all breathing humans. But in the age of digital technology, the customer seems somehow closer. Technology has broken down barriers between the customer and business, and data protection illustrates this to a tee.

Trust is becoming the key currency between the business and its customer, and digital technology means transparency is vital for building this trust.

The cost to a business in not applying to the standards of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could be massive - with fines of up to four per cent of turnover or 20 million euros, but the damage that can be done to a company in failing to build trust with customers can be greater still.

Take as an example, GDPR requirement for opt-in. The regulation means that companies must be able to demonstrate that the individual has actually given consent for their data to be processed. The new rules outline that ‘silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not, therefore, constitute consent.’

But many companies have been applying the idea of asking customers to opt in for some time. Most of us get truly riled when we discover information about us has been used to market products to us, without our permission.

The company that can communicate its message, build trust and demonstrate to customers how its use of data on them is to their benefit is at an advantage with, or without, GDPR.

But once the new GDPR rules come into force in May 2018, a company that can do all that will be at an enormous advantage.

We are entering an era when GDPR compliance is not only a legal requirement, it's a requirement for sustainable marketing.

And don't be shy, let the words 'we take your privacy very seriously' become one of your core marketing messages.

To know more, check out the GDPR Summit London – a one-day event that will focus on the likely impact GDPR will have on business critical processes and provide a framework to keep your organisation GDPR compliant. GDPR Summit London will help businesses to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at