Privacy and GDPR – How Important are they to the Association Executive?

David James Group President David Laurenzo details GDPR and its impact on how associations approach privacy, data analytics and content management.
Posted: 5 years ago

Depositphotos MThe new European privacy law—General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR—focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. And while it is a European law, the impact is being felt on a far greater scale than just within the EU. The new rule requires any “company” that maintains information about European citizens or those who live in European countries be transparent about how they use that data. This has required implementation of or updates to:

  • Privacy policies
  • Membership applications and enrollment forms
  • Analytics and user interaction tracking
  • Email marketing and interaction tracking
  • Explanation of how cookies are used on websites
  • Re-establishing connection campaigns to get people to re opt-in or opt-out
  • Terms of Use policy
  • Marketing and information sharing with third-party vendors

But privacy is just one part of the association executive’s focus on data security.

In a recent study by Association Laboratory Inc., “ensuring the privacy and security of data” was the fourth highest environmental factor that had the greatest impact on members, according to survey respondents. The second highest was “data analytics and the capture and use of information.” Both are tightly intertwined. Privacy and GDPR are very much part of the capture and use of member information.

As I talk to our clients, the issue of data analytics is very much top of mind.

Unfortunately, today’s association membership technologies do a poor job of providing usable and customizable data analytics. What has been developed for analytics in the for-profit world has not been mirrored in the association market. Data analytics packages can be expensive, so many executives invest in services with limited capabilities while waiting for more robust features and products to hit the market.

Content management and delivery are also important issues for association executives to tackle, especially in the context of privacy, GDPR and data analytics. In the same report, executives cited these “concerning impacts:” “customizing info for multiple delivery channels” and “content digitization, organization, and management,” both among the top 10 issues on the list. Once you are able to digitize, organize and manage your content, you will want to customize it for different delivery channels. Here again, like analytics, the technology is woefully behind the need, and association executives can only go so far today to make progress in this area.

Creating priorities is important.

Because the new regulation was enacted in May of this year, privacy and GDPR updates need to be taken care of immediately (if you haven’t done so already) and then maintained. As for content management versus data analytics, be careful in terms of making technology investments until you have a firm grasp on what you want your systems to accomplish versus what is possible today. Like anything else, baby steps are the way to go as you wait for the technology to catch up. As an example, you can certainly begin to digitize and organize your content as a start—and then customize delivery at a later time.

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