Martech Interview with Gavin Jordan-Smith, SVP, RICOH Graphic Communications

Gavin Jordan-Smith underlines the four technological changes in the Martech arena. He brings to light the techniques of delivering customer experiences for business growth.

I believe that the data-driven approach is becoming the single most important attribute to embrace. Data is dynamic and transformative with the buyer’s journey; it goes beyond the firmographic information, but quickly dives into using Artificial and Cognitive Intelligence.

1. Tell us about your role at RICOH Graphic Communications?
I am fortunate to have a few roles within Ricoh. First and foremost, I’m responsible for the RICOH Graphic Communications business results in Ricoh North America. Secondly, I have an expanded role that drives global marketing, strategy and digital transformation for the company’s global business unit: RICOH Graphic Communications (RGC). Teamwork is essential in both roles. I value the opportunity to work with a global team to drive a new vision for RGC while collaborating with Lauren Sallata, our CMO for Ricoh North America.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
It’s been a fun journey, with a lot of promise ahead. I came to America more than 20 years ago – I was born in London and lived in a few countries in Europe and Asia to run the print operations for a New York City printer. For the first few years, I was responsible for strategy and operations, which is where I fell in love with print, and for that matter, all forms of communication! From a marketing perspective, I was focused on agencies and marcom teams supporting big brands. In 2000, we pioneered hyper-personalization using digital and e-digital distribution. We had a team of developers taking content from IBM mainframes and composing it into print, web, mobile and email way before some of the leading software products came to market. In those days, I was young and represented a new age of thinking – similar to the youth of today, but I was privileged to lead those projects and learn at the same time. The success of these programs and projects launched me quickly into the digital equipment side of print and digital distribution, where I worked for Xerox Corporation and was responsible for global marketing within the commercial print market. From there, I went to Konica Minolta and now I am here at Ricoh.

3. What do you think is the biggest technological challenge in marketing right now?
When it comes to identifying the “biggest” technological challenge in marketing, from my perspective, this is really driven by the situational factors and challenges within a business overall. The top four areas that stand out to me are:
The Martech stack is crowded – In order to identify and address marketing needs, the Martech stack targets several areas where a customer and a brand start the engagement process – changing the way brands engage with their customers and how customers engage with brands. According to, there are more than 8,000 vendors offering several solutions to meet any one marketing need from simple to monolithic. As a result of this crowded market, we are in a multigenerational and diverse situation where the buyer is more informed than ever before, making it crucial for brands to turn toward data-driven strategies to differentiate their offerings. In some ways, that data can be leveraged to help brands become more predictive of their customers’ demands – this will be key for future success.
Product diversification – Many corporations are battling with the constant influx of new products on the market. This poses a challenge to marketers and as such, it’s important to build and strengthen a new kind of relationship with customers. This relationship shouldn’t be one that solely drives the brand forward, but should also be mutually beneficial, helping the brand stay relevant and efficiently address customers’ needs among the endless products and services they have to choose from.
Technology changes, people don’t – In a way, marketers with the most experience might find it the most challenging to understand and accept new Martech opportunities. If marketers don’t adapt to new technological advancements and ideas, they will miss pivotal opportunities. In today’s landscape, it’s imperative to keep moving forward – our view through the window always changes, we need to look outside the pane to stride ahead.
Digital natives and digital immigrants – Similar to my point above about the crowded market, marketers are consistently battling for the attention of today’s informed buyer. If you attempt to educate your customers after they have done their own research already – you are late to the conversation and miss the opportunity to capture their attention. Marketers need to get ahead of the buyer’s journey and the Martech stack must provide the right tools to enable it. The digital native and today’s digital immigrant both research and interact on many digital ecosystems. While this presents a growing industry challenge, since these ecosystems are not connected – brand engagement becomes even more challenging when you are not where your customers are.

4. How has a data-driven approach empowered the Martech industry?

I believe that the data-driven approach is becoming the single most important attribute to embrace. Data is dynamic and transformative with the buyer’s journey; it goes beyond the firmographic information, but quickly dives into using Artificial and Cognitive Intelligence.

Without data, you do not have an actionable or measurable marketing plan that can truly be connected to an ROI. This means that in context, we have to shift from reacting to data and look to predict data and provide connections in context with a customer’s needs and business outcomes.
If you look holistically at the Martech stack, it would not be a growing industry without the purposeful use of data – technology for the sake of technology is nothing without data, context and intelligence.

5. How do you define your customer communication management service?
Customer communication management can be a broad term overall. It has applications in all industries and all companies however, today it’s about accessibility and how it is used within agencies and/or marcoms.
Nevertheless, I would define it as a “Technology and Business Platform” that provides a two-way communication between a brand, its services, and a customer or consumer. On that platform you aim to deliver an exceptional customer experience through all types of communications – from the traditional bill or the marketing message. Either way, we use relevant content to provide the right messaging in multiple forms of output from print to mobile to even digital signage. It is highly data-driven and relies on multiple industry technologies to converge allowing the line of business leaders, the head of IT and the CMO, to collaborate more, especially on the challenges of context and services in a digital arena.
RICOH Graphic Communications has developed Customer Communications Management services that provide our customers with the flexibility and scalability to meet their business needs. We strive to help customers in organizations across various industries including insurance, financial services, healthcare and marketing depend on accurate and successful customer communications, offering a cost-effective complete, end-to-end services and solutions that work as an extension of a customer’s team. These innovative services are beneficial to our customers, as they alleviate the burden on internal IT staffing and help maximize our customers’ time and resources. These services are also expanding as we focus on business outcomes, analytics and customer experiences as our customers’ DX strategies vary, especially considering the transformation of communications is changing the landscape with digital marketing.

6. What tips would you like to give to our audience that can help them in delivering great customer experiences?
First and foremost: Be customer-centric (walk it, live it and eat it). This means having a strategy that shifts with the needs and outcomes of your customers. Data is also a key component to customer-centricity. Strong data governance delivers an exceptional customer experience, which translates into customer retention and growth.
Second, look at your current operating model and ask if you can scale. From front, mid and back-office functions, marketing plays a role in all three areas of an organization. With any investment we need to take a hard look at whether or not it can fit and operate in your future vision. Without a scalable model, you will likely not achieve the results you expect. That at the end of the day is also connected to the customer experience.

7. What are the biggest changes you expect to see in the digital marketing industry in the next few years?
I am excited for more predictive intelligence and ultimately automated cognitive actions as outputs within the Martech stack. There is so much happening in terms of geo-social impacts across many subjects that we have an opportunity to get innovative in how we build success and high-value engagements between the brand and customer.

8. What advice would you like to give to technology start-ups?
First, understand the desired outcome and not just the problem you are trying to solve in the market. It’s hard to standout in a minefield of technology offerings and the most successful start-up solves more than just a business problem – it delivers on the desired business outcome. Then, understand the customer journey and the value chain technology is plugged in to.

9. What work-related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
This is an excellent question. What I know about myself is that I move from one work hack to the next and in today’s remote environment, work is done wherever I am. However, to be productive, creative, or generally to get things done, I value a strategy that first optimizes you. So, personally my best hack is exercise whether I am on a call or writing a memo. I also have “in the office hacks” and “remote hacks” but there is a common theme between the two which is the essential need to collaborate more across the globe using technology.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-Centric world?
Consume as much as you can about the latest advancements in AI and really learn it – familiarize yourself with how it’s being leveraged across industries. The future of AI is exciting and it is already being used in the workplace and at home to more effectively and efficiently tackle real-world challenges. The impact of AI on business segments like marketing, sales, admin, supply chain or even legal departments is vast and includes its impact on the future of communication across all verticals as well. By using and embedding AI technology, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and ultimately deliver an exceptional customer experience. For example, AI can automate workflow and processes to trigger personalized communications for consumers based on their behavior or engagement with a brand. That consumer behavior and engagement is captured by connected data existing in various areas of an organization (i.e. ERP, CRM and outside components like social attitude through key words and activities). The cognitive part to this process occurs when brands and organizations program their system to automate their communication making the message to their consumers hyper-relevant, and more importantly eliminating the human-decision making aspect. By learning how to leverage AI and becoming familiar with the technology, brands open up new opportunities to engage with their consumers without exhausting their existing resources.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I am nothing without my team. I can easily describe them through a series of characteristics that they exhibit daily. Also, when referring to “the team,” I don’t solely define them as my direct reports, but the extended team through other departments and key partners of the RICOH Graphic Communications global business unit. As such, one notable characteristic they possess, is that they are adaptable to one another, they know each other very well and have learned to be agile in a changing environment – when something is not right, we figure it out and adjust together. This team shows great enthusiasm, which gives an element of high energy and excitement keeping us driving forward to achieve a common set of goals. Of course, other characteristics come to mind as well such as vision, selflessness and commitment.
I believe that it is critical to provide as much transparency to your team as you can. It is all about providing context to why we are doing something. Lastly, my team likes to celebrate – who doesn’t? What did Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith say in the A-Team. – “I love it when a plan comes together” and then he lights a stogie. We should do more of that…

12. What movie inspires you the most?
This has to be the toughest question overall…I like all genres of music and as such, I love all genres of movies. I get teared up on true life movies as much as I get pumped watching the good guys win against the bad. Lately, I am into Marvel and the one I have watched the most is Avengers: End Game.

13. We have heard that you have a joyful work culture, can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Within RICOH Graphic Communications, we’ve created an environment that thrives on innovation, positive spirit and teamwork. Our team is committed to helping our customers grow their businesses and increase operational efficiencies every day and its inspired work.

14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
Here’s a snapshot of some of the apps that take up quite a bit of my time 😉:

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Gavin Jordan-Smith am a senior executive and globally recognized thought leader driving transformational change in highly recognized branded technology and software companies. He possesses a customer-centric mind-set and is focused on partnering with customers to help them with their digital transformation. Continually focused on developing a culture around hyper-relevancy and customer value, he has consistently executed on global strategies with successful go-to-market outcomes. He is incredibly results-driven, and has more than 25 years of proven success. He has worked for leading technology companies, agencies, print services providers and startups. He recognizes that what truly drives progress is connecting with people and delivering results. As a brand, sales and marketing transformation leader, he believes that connections to customers ultimately lead to positive results.

Ricoh USA is an information management and digital services company connecting technology, processes, and people. As part of a global leader, we create competitive advantage for over 1.4 million businesses and solve problems for companies large and small.

Every day our more than 90,000 global employees serve a vast array of industries designing and optimizing end-to-end business solutions. At the forefront of innovation, we use a wide range of systems, platforms, and image technology to make data accessible to people faster and with more insight than ever before.

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