Happy GDPR Day! Today is May 25, and as we all know already, it is the day when the now famous GDPR regulation of the European Union comes into force. Your mailbox has gone crazy with all the e-mails to confirm your mailing preferences, hasn’t it? Quite a few people I’ve spoken to recently honestly admitted they take it as an opportunity to clean up the mess in their mailboxes by opting out from some of this communication (and I have leveraged this opportunity myself, I have to admit). However, looking on this craze from a product manager’s perspective, this creates a lot of opportunities for product managers, and this is what I want to focus on here.

Testing customer engagement

The most obvious impact from the need to ask our current subscribers to re-confirm their preferences is of course, testing their commitment to our brand and products. Every marketer out there can confirm that it is better to have a few truly committed subscribers rather than a huge list of people who would rather consider the next update you are sending as spam and not react at all.

So, checking commitment is the first helpful thing that can support a product manager in identifying potential early adopters and stakeholders that would be happy to give feedback and follow up on your calls to action.

Demonstrating vision

Another insight that I got while reviewing some of the emails I got is that the effort to GDPR compliance has been a great opportunities for companies to demonstrate availability of vision.

I have received emails from currently global services that temporarily withdraw their EU customer support because they are not ready or cannot become ready on time. While at first glance this might sound irritating to you as one of those EU customers, giving it some further consideration from my perspective demonstrates that those companies have put effort to understand GDPR requirements thoroughly and they are committing to full support in the long run, but they are also very honest and true to their users’ privacy, and prefer to work towards full compliance rather than offer mediocre short-term solution. I see this as commitment to a product vision that includes user-centric focus and true concern for users’ rights.

Strong prioritization and focus

Related to the above, an approach that involves taking out a service or product from the EU market because of GDPR compliance also demonstrates strong product manager’s ability to prioritize and define what is the product’s primary market. It takes courage to say – we are not going to offer our service on this market because we are not ready for that at present. And I guess those product managers had tough discussions with their CEOs and stakeholders to support this decision. It’s clear that the risk factor in case of incompliance is a strong argument, yet they have chosen to prioritize according to their product vision and defer commitment to market that they see as secondary – and this of course, brings some other risks for the product as well.

Eventually, though, I believe such a decision is beneficial to the product, because it shows a clear focus and understanding of the primary markets, and a strategic approach to growing those market. I, as a customer of some of those services, see this as a strong statement of great PM capabilities and I am even more curious and committed to following these products and see how they evolve their vision to step back to the EU market.

Product managers, I would appreciate your comments on this – how do you think all the GDPR craze has been helpful to you? Join the discussion on LinkedIn.

How has the GDPR fuss been helpful to product managers?