Duane Schulz, chief marketing technologist at Xerox, is a marketing technologist’s marketing technologist.
One of the true pioneers of this hybrid profession, Duane has forged a number of great marketing technology management practices at Xerox, a highly-distributed $18 billion company with over 100,000 employees worldwide — no small feat.
I’m delighted that Duane graciously agreed to share his experience with us here in a Q&A.
1. Tell us a bit a about your background — what did your career path look like?
I started as a medium-company IT manager, which helped me get immersed in system design/thinking, coding, operations, and applying technology to deliver business impact. That eventually brought me to Hewlett-Packard and then Apple, where I became a product strategy and management leader, facilitating seminal market disruptions like HP’s DeskJet and early digital photography — the growth hacking of the 80s.
I joined Xerox through an acquisition after two startups and led a new ventures practice, eventually taking roles leading digital, social and marketing operations. As we matured our digital and marketing operations practices, the need to tackle marketing technology as a focused executive priority became clear.
2. What’s your current role at Xerox? What does that entail?
I’m our chief marketing technologist (CMT), and am also responsible for our digital, social, and content marketing team and global brand practice.
In the CMT role, I’m responsible for developing our strategy for using marketing technology platforms to materially impact our business performance, while at the same time developing strong competencies that progress our global marketing practice, ensuring that our marketing community are solid contemporary marketers.
One critical distinction about our CMT practice is that I’m a solo executive practitioner in that role and don’t manage the operations of the platforms involved — aside from my digital responsibilities — so I can be an impartial consultant, evangelist, advisor, and teacher.
3. How do marketing and IT work together at Xerox? Where do responsibilities split? How has that changed over time, and what role do you, as chief marketing technologist, play in bridging these two organizations?
Marketing and IT work closely on our marketing stack and how it integrates into our IT strategy and core architecture, and this relationship is a primary element of my charter. We have worked hard in the last couple of years to build stronger ties with our IT organization — and made good progress clarifying and understanding our respective value-add in the mission.
Marketing and IT work closely on our marketing stack and how it integrates into our IT strategy and core architecture, and this relationship is a primary element of my charter.
In general, most of our marketing technology applications are operated by marketing groups and our businesses. When we get into transactional apps, data management, e-commerce, sales, back-end systems and integration of marketing apps with those systems — and of course privacy and security — IT leads the charge and owns the space.
In many ways, a CMT is a marketing-based IT strategist, and I can’t do that without close relations with IT and trust between us. My background in IT, code, app design and infrastructure helps bridge our respective points of view.
It’s vital that we marketers aren’t just charging off with rogue actions and creating messes that our IT partners eventually need to clean up. And IT needs to be comfortable with business-led applications as a new modality as well. There’s natural tension between these dynamics across the industry, and developing collaborative relationships is key. I really appreciate my partners in IT.
4. As a global, multi-business company, how does Xerox balance the trade-offs between centralization and more distributed leadership in marketing, particularly with regard to marketing technology?
We operate a distributed business model, with marketing teams in our many lines of business in document technology and services and business process services. That said, we have a strong cadre of centralized shared marketing services directly reporting to our CMO John Kennedy — paid media, communications, experiential, brand, digital, and an emerging demand and sales enablement center.
Our business marketers handle things associated with offerings, prospects, messaging, go-to-market and close-to-the-client marketing — while the corporate teams operate centers of excellence.
We’ve arranged our marketing technology to enable freedom for our business marketers where it’s appropriate, but established strong standards in the case of core applications that apply to the broad community.
We’ve arranged our marketing technology to enable freedom for our business marketers where it’s appropriate, but established strong standards in the case of core applications that apply to the broad community. Some platforms are only operated in the center (Drupal, WordPress, etc.), others are standards that are offered to each group, e.g., social monitoring or publishing (Synthesio and Spredfast in our case).
5. In a similar vein, how do you encourage experimentation and exploratory innovation while still providing a structure for scalability? Is it harder to ignite that fire or control it?
We run annual audits of marketing technology at Xerox, and early on I devised a construct to arrange them across a continuum, from one-off or early-adoption platforms to vital and broadly-applicable applications. We arranged the platforms into three categories: mainstream, satellite, and independent. And we adopted and communicated a martech strategy that encouraged experimentation across the business for independent platforms, at the same time declaring about 15 platforms as mainstream.
We arranged the platforms into three categories: mainstream, satellite, and independent.
We communicated that it’s okay to try new tools, just keep us posted at the center on what you are doing, so we can share the experience and outcomes across our marketing teams. And don’t think you get to go out and choose a new marketing automation platform to supplant the standard (Marketo in our case).
What we didn’t see until we backed away from this thinking was that we had built a taxonomy that mirrors the software architecture model of Core-Adjacent-Edge. And it turns out that we have a 70-20-10 investment split between these categories, while we have an essentially flipped count of applications against that model.
6. With all the changes in marketing and marketing technology today, how do build capabilities and competencies in the broader marketing team to harness the potential of these new tools?
I think this is where Xerox is taking a creative and strategic approach. While we arranged the platforms into the structure I laid out above, we asked ourselves, “What are the capabilities we are trying to develop with these platforms?” It’s common to arrange the stack around platforms’ purpose, we thought of this as a fulcrum to develop our contemporary marketing skill and performance and to envision a future state.
We settled on six capabilities that merged these ideas, and built a three-plus year vision for a progression of maturity for these capabilities (full disclosure: we leveraged Allocadia’s Sam Melnick’s “layers” model and IDC’s Gerry Murray’s martech maturity model, adapting the concepts to our situation).
7. Do you have a vision for how marketing technology will evolve at Xerox over the next several years? How do you balance a strategically concrete roadmap with the flexibility to respond to new emergent developments?
The progression axis of the model above is our best shot at the future evolution. As you know, Xerox will be separating into two companies, Xerox and Conduent, in 2017, so these journeys may differ as the business’ needs and marketing opportunities unfold. That said, this is an agile space, and we’ll revisit our progression model periodically.
To facilitate the evolution, we have taken our full stack and published it on a responsive website to allow all of our marketers to discover all that’s already in use across the company, reach out to ask for advicem or tell us about new platforms they are going to trial. As these experiments unfold, they’ll organically influence our future state. Think of it as “user-driven martech.”
8. Any advice you’d offer to someone starting out their career in marketing today?
Oh, and don’t take anything martech vendors tell you at face value. Questions?
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5 thoughts on “Insights from the chief marketing technologist of an $18B firm”
Thanks for the shout out Duane, great stuff as always!
Terrific interview. Every company needs a Duane (but very few get to have one).
Great interview and insight into the new marketing journey Xerox is taking. It is a much needed strategy for the future. Keep it coming!
Agree – terrific interview! Duane, this has been an incredible journey for you and the organization. You’re a true pioneer (and a little bit of a tech geek too). Thank you for sharing your story.
Duane, which martechs do you envision will be shifting the industry standard? I work at a marketing automation SaaS company bundled with co-op management & top-tier customer support. Does Xerox use such a vendor in that regards or have you built something internally that your distribution channel uses?