Over a third of marketers still don’t understand GDPR as implementation deadline looms

With less than three months to go until the implementation of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new research has revealed that over a third of marketers across Europe and the US still don’t understand the changes or the impact it will have on their businesses.

The study, which was conducted by marketing automation provider Act-On and polled the opinions of 200 marketing professionals, also found that the knowledge gap is even greater outside marketing departments, with just 45 per cent feeling that the rest of their business understands the new rules and their implications.

A significant 31 per cent of firms meanwhile, still haven’t taken any action to adjust their operations or engagement strategies in anticipation of the switch, despite the imminent deadline.

Commenting on the findings, David Fowler, Head of Privacy and Digital Compliance at Act-On said: “These results are hugely significant, as for those firms that don’t comply with the new regulations the consequences are likely to be severe. We already know that from the 25th May, any business holding data on EU citizens that violates GDPR will be subject to fines of up to 4 percent of their annual worldwide revenue or €20 million, and that goes for companies in the US as well. There’s no question that it would be a massive blow to any firm’s bottom line.”

But when it comes to the financial impact, less than a quarter of respondents are concerned about fines and non-compliance. 29 per cent say they are more worried about the cost implications of their preparation and ongoing compliance.

Despite this however, the survey found that only half of marketers plan to allocate any budget for GDPR in 2018. Of those allocating budget, the majority (53 per cent) have set aside between £1,000 and £7,500.

Fowler added: “There doesn’t seem to be an industry-wide consensus on GDPR, but it’s clear that a vast number of marketers and businesses remain unprepared or unaware. It’s surprising to still see such a disparity, despite the prolonged build up and wealth of support available, but the potential costs and consequences for non-compliance really can’t be understated. And that applies to businesses of all sizes, from global corporations to enterprise startups.

“There’s still time however, for remaining companies to make necessary changes to stay compliant. They need to be transparent about consumers’ data and have the right systems in place, as well as solid strategies, to stay ahead of the game. No matter how hard businesses try to bury their heads in the sand, compliance to GDPR is inevitable. Being agile and adaptive are essential components for companies, if they aren’t willing to lose millions.”