Segment has a plan to help companies comply with GDPR data privacy requests

Ron Miller
Segment is a startup that helps companies collect customer data from a variety of siloed sources and place that data in a single usable record.

Segment is a startup that helps companies collect customer data from a variety of siloed sources and place that data in a single usable record. Today, it announced it has added a new tool to prepare for the EU's GDPR privacy guidelines, which are coming in May next year.

The new tool makes it a simple matter to stop collecting data or completely remove a person's information from the system in a process known as the "right to be forgotten."

Segment has made a name for itself by providing a set of APIs that enable it to gather data about a customer from a variety of sources like your CRM tool, customer service application and website and pull that all together into a single view of the customer, something that is the goal of every company in the customer information business.

Before you get creeped out by the data collection angle, realize that this company isn't gathering this data to sell it, it's gathering it so that the company you do business with has a clearer understanding of your interactions with them across the company. That means if you ordered something online, then went into the store, the clerk can look up your customer record and see all of your interactions, something that just isn't that easy to do at this point for most companies.

"Our perspective around customer data, is that consumers want a personalized experience, so companies need to understand their customers," Peter Reinhardt, Segment co-founder and CEO told TechCrunch. But he understands that customers don't want their interactions sold to a third party, which he likens to the grocer gossiping with the banker about what you bought.

In reality, it's painfully difficult to move this data where it's needed. "Being a customer-centric business these days, especially in digital channels is effectively a problem of data infrastructure and Segment helps companies [solve] that," Reinhardt explained.

The flip side of that is that it can now help you stop gathering information too. It has added a new API, that lets you stop collecting data on an individual, who requests that. Under GDPR rules, a company is duty bound to comply with that request. What's more, if the individual wants you to strike all of their customer data from your records, you can do that too.

If you think about what Segment does, gather all the data about a customer in one place, it greatly simplifies the ability to act on a removal request because instead of having to look across multiple systems for the customer information and check each one, Segment is doing all of that work for you in an automated fashion.

Segment was founded in 2011 and released its first product in 2012. It has raised over $108M including a $64 M Series C round in July led by Y Combinator. It currently has 180 employees to go along with 15,000 customers including Hotel Tonight, Atlassian, Crate & Barrel ,Draft Kings and New Relic.