“The processing of personal data should be designed to service mankind.”

So says the formal text of the General Data Protection Regulations. From the very start, it’s clear these regulations are no ordinary piece of legislation or compliance. The regulations were conceived to enhance the world we live in. To make our lives more pleasant and productive. Whether we have our business hats or our consumer hats on, these regulations are here for our own good.

As marketers, we are probably the worst consumers of marketing and advertising. We either put up with it in the same way as any other person has to or we study how well or poorly we are being marketed to. At the very least, the GDPR forces us to look at the reality of what we are doing with the data of real people, just like us. We should be asking ourselves the question; if I were a customer of my own business, would I be happy with how my data is being used, if I knew all the facts? If the answer is yes, then you are already a long way down the line of doing the right thing by your customers. If the answer is no, then you need the GDPR more than you think you do.

After all, the GDPR is simply seeking to create a trusted environment where businesses and consumers can communicate and do business together. We operate in a digital world with the possibility of many products becoming data-driven and customer-centric. Isn’t is good to know that under the GDPR the data we will have access to is likely to be accurate and consented and so the marketing produced can overtly leverage the benefits of relevance and personalisation without being creepy or sinister.

For too long marketing has been biased towards targeting rather than relationship building. Even the word ‘target’ is the vocabulary of the hunter. Is this really the right way to start a long and mutually beneficial relationship with a new customer? Because it is long and mutually beneficial relationships that will be essential in a post GDPR world where ‘targeting’ and opted in marketing will be far more challenging.

To the practicalities of the GDPR. Much fuss is made over the security of personal data as a key requirement of compliance. Why are people surprised by this? None of us would want to share our details with a company that was going to share them with the rest of the world. We need to get on with making our data secure and understand that this is a simple hygiene level that we all would expect.

Data portability is massively underestimated at present and in my opinion, will become one of the main marketing battlegrounds of the future. Think about it for a moment. You will be able to ask your insurance comparison site for your details and insurance purchasing history and receive that in a machine-readable format that can be used by other organisations. You will then be able to share that data into another comparison site that will give you an analysis of your past insurances and your best options to replace those policies. All achieved with a few clicks and almost no input of energy.

So who will you be sharing your data with? An organisation that you trust to do the right thing with your data or a leaky sieve? Brand trust will become critical. Marketers will need to be brilliant at building trust in their customers and audiences. How better to do that than by being secure, open, transparent and accountable. All values embodied in the new regulations.

The innovation of new data-driven and customer-centric products and services will thrive in a trusted environment where data flows freely from one organisation to another with the full consent and knowledge of the customer. Marketing has the opportunity to be at the forefront of a better connected and more informed world. But the future has to be embraced and not feared. In just the same way as the General Data Protection Regulations should be welcomed into our lives.