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New Maritz Chief Doubles Down on Science

We reached out to the new President of Maritz Motivation Solutions Drew Carter to get his perspective on his new post and the industry he has joined. Carter was most recently a Managing Director at AlixPartners, a corporate and restructuring firm, and co-founder of the firm’s digital division.
Q: What made you want to join Maritz and the field of motivation?
A: I accepted the role because I believe my background fits really well, both with what Maritz Motivation Solutions has done in the past and the vision that Steve Maritz has for the business going forward. Our clients are facing the most intense competitive environment ever. Industries are being turned upside-down by digital-native companies such as Uber, Netflix and Airbnb. Traditional approaches to engaging customers, like a one-size-fits-all loyalty program, or engaging employees by relying on an annual survey are simply not sufficient. The companies that survive and thrive will be those that create relevant, timely and frictionless interactions with customers, sales forces and employees to drive maximum, proven ROI. These companies will be using data-driven insights to guide their decision making. 
For example, years ago Sears curated a universe of things to buy in its catalogue. Fast forward to today—no brand enjoys that privilege. Today’s customer wants to know what her friends think on Pinterest or Facebook, Yelp or Glassdoor. At the same time, consumers expect brands to maintain the continuity of their relationships. Brands must be able to recognize the same customer across mobile, in-store and online. They must know the same customer just returned a defective item, and pause that next offer to buy the same item.
Fortunately, Maritz Motivation Solutions has answers to all these challenges. Our most sophisticated clients are partnering with us to:
  • Deploy world-class employee, sales and customer loyalty platforms
  • Analyze the data using our advanced decision sciences
  • Apply our unparalleled behavioral sciences insights
  • Engage innovative campaigns using our full-service creative agency.
We have the capabilities and experience to help our clients address these critical challenges successfully. 
Q: Maritz seems to have embarked on a vision to bring science to a field that has relied a lot on assumptions. It appears that bringing in someone of your background confirms a continuation of that direction, rather than a change of direction. Could you comment on that?
A: That’s correct. Steve Maritz has long had the vision for enabling our clients with science-driven insights. My appointment is just the next phase of this effort. My role dovetails perfectly with our multi-year pursuit of decision sciences and behavior sciences. Engaging customers, employees and sales teams will benefit from this science as much as any industry.
Q: Maritz has its roots in the incentive, loyalty, and recognition fields. How do you feel this focus on science and analytics will affect the way these programs are designed and sold when many competitors still focus on rewards and technology?
A: The maturation of these fields is inevitable. While rewards and technology are, and will continue to be, an important part of our business, the science discipline we’ve developed will make all our programs far more effective.
Q: Do you believe this field is ready for a professional services model in which clients pay for services rather than mostly for markups on rewards?
A: I do. Look at the loyalty space, for example. There are dozens of examples of programs that simply are not delivering the business value they were designed for. Our clients are looking for the thought leadership to help them conceive, design, operate and continuously improve programs that drive measurable business impact.
Q: How do you feel the business category in which Maritz has led the marketplace will change?
A: I see the business moving away from a focus on merchandise. While merchandise will still be important, it won’t be the primary value of our programs.
Q: Do you believe the new focus on science will make it more difficult for bottom-feeders to confuse the marketplace by focusing on the sale of bright and shiny objects rather than ROI-based solutions?
A: That’s a good way to put it. Measuring ROI is really the only way to define success. Companies that fail to demonstrate real business impact will eventually be replaced by those of us who do.
Q: What sorts of opportunities do you see for Maritz? What challenges do you face -- i.e. training the sales team, educating the market, or whatever?
A: The largest challenges include growing the team – there is a real war for top-tier talent - and communicating our value.  Our decision and behavioral sciences groups are world-class, but we haven’t (yet) really promoted them. Our biggest opportunity, in my view, is simply market domination. We have a very differentiated value proposition:
  • World-class employee, sales and customer loyalty platforms
  • Advanced decision sciences
  • Unparalleled behavioral sciences insights
  • Full-service creative agency.
Q: Are you aware that the world’s most prestigious standards group, ISO, has already created standards related to engagement and best practices for people management in quality, and that it is now creating standards for engagement?
A: Yes, we are familiar with several efforts underway to identify and support global standards for employee engagement – and the work that the EEA is undertaking. Maritz Motivation Solutions has supported the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (it is a member) and anticipates providing support in the future. We have also done work on a Global Engagement Model with the Employee Engagement Alliance founded in the U.K.  We believe these goals and efforts are similar and support the concept of tools and standards in the marketplace.
Q: What, if any, impact do you believe recognized standards could have on the marketplace, given the impact ISO 9000 has had on quality management?
A: ISO has been embraced by quality-driven manufacturing and processes-oriented organizations for decades. It will be interesting to learn if the rigor and methodology is embraced by human resources and applies to people in diverse industries. The marketplace is open for proven blueprints and line of sight to return-on-investment. If the ISO standards can provide that, it could make a significant impact.
Q: What insights do you bring from your past career that you believe can be applied to this market?
A: Both at Opera Solutions and AlixPartners, I founded and built new businesses and focused on digital transformation for our clients. That involved looking at things like how do companies get more customer-centric, how do you use analytics and machine learning to get a better understanding of your customers, how to create a more effective sales force and how to drive employees to do the right things. All that experience dovetailed into what Maritz Motivation Solutions does. 
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