Q&A with Amy Barzdukas, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Poly

Amy Barzdukas, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Poly is a marketing and communications leader with extensive experience in setting strategy, shifting perceptions, advising customers, digital marketing, revenue marketing, integrated marketing communications, and public relations in highly competitive product arenas.

Amy is known for her ability to create and execute winning turnarounds on a global scale.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing?
AMY BARZDUKAS:
I was always destined for marketing, even if I didn’t know it. As a child, I collected promotional brochures. I was fascinated by how the words and pictures were used to drive action. My first job was as an advertising copywriter, and I’ve never looked back.

M7: How is Poly redefining the video conferencing experience for modern businesses?
AB:
 We’re in an unprecedented time of change in our industry. Voice and video services are moving to the cloud, and companies are changing how they approach their communications needs. Poly is the largest provider of the devices – video conferencing, audio conferencing, headphones and desk phones – you use to connect to these services so you can collaborate with your colleagues. That uniquely positions us to shape the video conferencing experience, and we’re doing so in four ways.

First, Poly has made both the Zoom Rooms and the Microsoft Teams video conferencing experience better than ever with our radically simple Poly Studio X video bars that deliver these experiences with no PC or Mac required. We’ve got decades of experience in understanding what makes meetings more human – for everyone in the room and those dialing in from other locations – and we’ve packed all of that into easy-to-install, easy-to-manage, and easy-to-use all-in-one powerhouses.

Second, we are bringing the world of AV and video conferencing into the modern app economy. Our Studio X series and Poly G7500 video conferencing devices run a common platform that can be updated and enhanced through a series of regular software updates. This Poly platform, built on Android, can run applications like a smartphone does today.

Third, Poly has introduced innovation that makes any video conference better. Our new Poly MeetingAI features use AI and machine learning to address the distractions that hit your senses in a meeting. We make it easier to hear what’s being said by blocking out the annoying noises that people make while talking, and we make it easier to see what’s going on in the room with the most advanced speaker tracking and framing, and our built-in production rules.

Finally, we are pricing our solutions in a way that completely resets the calculations on what it costs to outfit a room. The Studio X30, for huddle room and smaller spaces, costs just about $2,100, including the Poly TC8 touch controller. All you add is the cloud service and a monitor, and you have a room up and running for under $2,500. That’s easily under the cost of other solutions and with better audio and video quality.


"Baby Boomers and more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise."

M7: As the CMO of Poly, what were the major challenges in rebranding and transforming two separate organizations (Plantronics and Polycom) under a single brand Poly?
AB:
One of the greatest challenges of bringing together Plantronics and Polycom was doing so in a way that honored their brand equity, history, and positive associations while establishing a new story for the new company. Plantronics was already an audio pioneer– the first headset that transmitted Neil Armstrong’s famous words during the first moon landing. Polycom was the leader in audio and video conferencing – the conference phone used by business leaders and industry captains.
We had to figure out how to build a stand-out narrative in a crowded space for the general market. For customers and partners, we found a way to carry through the legacies and histories of both companies into the new brand. And for our employees, we had to inspire them to believe in the new brand and the new combined mission. These different challenges with different stakeholders took different approaches to confront, but in the end, we brought everyone to the same conclusion that Poly was moving forward, unified and stronger.

And like any acquisition, integration takes time. We’re proud of our accomplishments since rebranding to Poly in March 2019. Since then, we’ve refreshed our video conferencing line of products, broken new ground with a mobile phone station called Elara 60 Series and showcased our continued commitment to expanding the ecosystem with partners such as Zoom, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and more. As Poly, we bring a new level of quality, simplicity, and flexibility so that every communication can easily become a place for collaboration and innovation for the enterprise.


"Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace."

M7: A recent study by Poly reveals that employees prefer noisier open offices to closed, quiet spaces. What do you think is responsible for driving these unique demands in the workplace today?
AB:
Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials tend to prefer open offices compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers and that more than half of Gen Z say they are most productive when they were working around noise. What we’re seeing is that Gen Z and Millennials came up in an era of digitization, so they are more accustomed to the tools and technology to deal with distractions in the workplace. For example, they’re used to wearing noise-canceling headphones to block out the background noise, and similarly at home with video. They’ve been doing it all their lives!

Now that we can work from anywhere – coffee shops, airports, waiting rooms – we are more accustomed to dealing with distractions and working through them. We take that mindset into the office along with the tools we may use to address distraction, from a pair of comfortable headphones with ANC to deciding to do different types of work in different settings.

M7: What features have made Poly Studio win the 'Best of Enterprise Connect' award in the '2019 Communication/Collaboration Device'?
AB: 
Poly Studio is our answer to the need for easy-to-use video conferencing devices for smaller spaces called huddle rooms. Poly Studio is a video USB bar with premium audio and video capabilities. Its standout features include NoiseBlock, which mutes distracting background noises, Automatic Group Framing and Speaker Tracking, which zooms in to focus on the speaking participant. This board-room like audio and video transforms small meeting rooms into a center for collaboration. We’re also pleased that it was recently certified for Zoom Rooms and Microsoft Teams. The device also works with Skype for Business, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx and Amazon Chime, and virtually any cloud-based video collaboration service.


"Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging."

M7: What traits make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace?
AB:
Our in-depth expertise, tireless innovation, and emphasis on partnership make Poly a global leader in communications and a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

Poly combines legendary audio expertise with powerful video and conferencing capabilities to help our users overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance, making communication in and out of the workplace challenging. When the world was on a race to space in the ’60s, NASA approached us—Plantronics back then—with a seemingly impossible task: create a headset that would equip astronauts to communicate with Mission Control from the earth to the moon, and back again.

Fifty years later, we share the same mission today: to create powerful connections that unify people the world over. We’re designing technology for the different ways people work – open offices, remote locations, mobile-first workers. We are the largest provider of headsets, video and audio-conferencing devices that you use to communicate and collaborate for your work, whatever that may be. And we continue to innovate with products like Poly Studio X that change how people collaborate.
Through partnerships with industry leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Zoom, Poly takes an open-architecture approach that allows users to seamlessly connect across all the best technologies. Whenever and wherever people connect with these services, we will be there to provide the best-in-class audio, video and voice technology to make the experience that much better.

M7: What’s your superpower or spirit animal?
AB: 
My superpower is the ability to read amazingly quickly, thanks to the experimental elementary school I attended. I don’t know how anyone gets through their workload without it, honestly. My spirit animal? I told my husband the other day that I think it is Tom Petty. I’m a huge fan. If you have a problem, there is a Tom Petty song that can solve it, or at least make it more fun.

ABOUT POLY

Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity, and distance that make communication in and out of the workplace challenging. Poly believes in solutions that make life easier when they work together and with our partner’s services. Our headsets, software, desk phones, audio and video conferencing, analytics and services are used worldwide and are a leading choice for every kind of workspace.

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GlobeNewswire | January 09, 2024

On Monday January 8th, Godspeed Capital Management LP (“Godspeed”), a lower middle market Defense & Government services, solutions, and technology-focused private equity firm, announced the acquisition of Cyberspace Solutions, LLC (“CSS” or “the Company”), a provider of all-source intelligence gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions for national security missions, by its intelligence, AI/ML, and Data Analytics platform, Crimson Phoenix. CSS was formerly owned by Illuminate Operations, Inc. Chertoff Capital, LLC, the investment banking subsidiary of The Chertoff Group, served as the exclusive investment banking advisor to Illuminate Operations, Inc. TRANSACTION DETAILS CSS is a provider of all-source intelligence gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions, including data and analytical support services for the Intelligence Community and U.S. Special Operations Command. CSS combines decades of intelligence expertise to deliver actionable insights that enable its national security customers to make fast and informed decisions. The Company now joins with Crimson Phoenix to support its intelligence strategy and national security objectives. Jason Kaufman, Chertoff Capital president said, “CSS is a trusted provider of all-source intelligence data and analytical support services for national security missions. The acquisition of CSS by Crimson Phoenix not only optimizes portfolio value for our client but also propels the Company towards a future marked by innovation and market leadership. We are pleased to have served as the trusted advisor to Illuminate and look forward to Crimson Phoenix’s future success.” Ryan Hoffman, Chertoff Capital principal said, “CSS aligns perfectly with Crimson Phoenix’s national security objectives. It brings a talented workforce and coveted customer relationships to the platform. This transaction reflects our dedication to delivering strategic value for mission-oriented companies. We are thrilled to have advised Illuminate on the sale and are excited for Crimson Phoenix’s promising future.” Tameika Hollis, CEO of Illuminate Operations, Inc., said, “Chertoff Capital provided excellent advice throughout the entire transaction process. They were instrumental in crafting a clear description of the value proposition of the business being divested, identifying the relevant set of potential suitors, soliciting interest, shepherding the process of selecting the acquirer, navigating the challenges of bringing the transaction to a successful conclusion, and ultimately finding a great new home for the business. We appreciate their hard work and wise insights.” About Chertoff Capital Chertoff Capital is the investment banking subsidiary of The Chertoff Group, a specialized advisory firm that helps organizations achieve their business and security objectives in a complex risk environment. As an industry leading investment bank serving high growth, mission-focused companies in the defense technology, government services and cybersecurity markets, Chertoff Capital provides clients with a highly differentiated advisory offering that brings together transaction expertise and unparalleled business strategy insights. Chertoff Capital professionals have advised on well over 100 transactions over the last 20 years. Chertoff Capital is an SEC registered broker dealer and a member of FINRA. About Cyberspace Solutions Cyberspace Solutions, LLC, is a leading provider of all-source intelligence, gathering, analysis, and systems development solutions for Intelligence Community, Defense, and Law Enforcement customers. CSS customizes solutions and provide actionable intelligence for targeting and other vital mission priorities. About Crimson Phoenix Crimson Phoenix is a leading digital, data, and intelligence analysis and solutions platform designed to support the critical mission requirements of the U.S. Intelligence Community and U.S. Special Operations Command. Headquartered in the DC/Virginia area, Crimson Phoenix offers a differentiated suite of mission-critical capabilities and solutions in artificial intelligence & machine learning, cybersecurity, digital and data enablement, software development, and intelligence targeting and analysis. About Godspeed Capital Management Godspeed Capital is a lower middle-market defense & government services, solutions, and technology focused private equity firm investing alongside forward-thinking management teams that seek an experienced and innovative investment partner with unique sector expertise, operational insight, and flexible capital for growth. While a typical investment will involve companies generating approximately $3 million to $30 million of EBITDA, Godspeed Capital has significant support to complete larger transactions through strategic co-invest relationships. The firm focuses on control buyouts, buy-and-builds, corporate carve-outs, and special situations.

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Domino Data Lab Lends AI Expertise to Atlantic Council's Commission on Software-Defined Warfare

PR Newswire | January 23, 2024

Domino Data Lab, provider of the leading Enterprise AI platform trusted by over 20% of the Fortune 100, today announced it has joined the Atlantic Council's newly-formed Commission on Software-Defined Warfare, where Domino President of Public Sector Joel Meyer will represent the company to help ensure the U.S. and its allies can effectively leverage software, particularly AI platforms at scale, to enhance defense capabilities. Co-chaired by 27th U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Former Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox, and President of Purdue University Mung Chiang, the Commission will develop a framework to enhance U.S. and allied forces through emergent digital capabilities. The commission will leverage insights from a prestigious and diverse group of subject matter experts, including former government officials, and industry leaders who will offer a wealth of valuable perspectives. The continued proliferation of advanced commercial technology, including infrastructure and tooling to support artificial intelligence, is transforming the battlefield and changing its dynamics in ways that could alter existing military balances of power. Meyer will work with the Commission to help recognize and recommend scalable, governable, and cost-effective AI approaches and solutions to ensure U.S. competitiveness amidst this paradigm shift. "To ensure the U.S. maintains its global leadership in today's technology-driven security environment, the DoD must modernize its approach to acquiring and leveraging digital capabilities," said Meyer. "I'm honored to assist the Atlantic Council's critical work to enable the DoD to leverage responsible AI-driven capabilities for data-driven decisions at the speed of battle, and support our long-term national security." This new commission is the latest of the Atlantic Council's efforts to recommend modern software practices the DoD can implement to optimize or improve defense capabilities. "Cutting-edge technology companies like Domino are crucial to closing the yawning gap in current capabilities for advancing national defense," said Stephen Rodriguez, commission director and senior advisor, at the Atlantic Council's Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and its Forward Defense program. "The expertise that Joel Meyer brings from his prior senior national security and technology roles will help cement the Commission's ability to drive change that supports American and allied security." The Commission's work will culminate in a framework for the U.S. legislative and executive branches, defense prime contractors and tech start-ups, and U.S. allies and partners to holistically approach software capability development and integration with military hardware. Domino for Government: Secure & Governed Mission-Driven AI Domino's Enterprise AI and MLOps Platform helps government agencies integrate AI into their missions rapidly, safely, and cost-effectively. Domino makes it easy for federal agencies to build, deploy, and manage AI at scale, on a unified platform without risking their AI intellectual property. Agency data scientists, contractors, and collaborators can securely access on-demand compute infrastructure and their choice of commercial and open-source data, tools, models, and projects—across any on-prem, GovCloud, and hybrid/multi-cloud environments. With Domino, agencies can improve collaboration and governance while establishing AI standards and best practices that accelerate their missions. "The DoD needs to continue to accelerate the integration of artificial intelligence into its mission sets to more effectively deter, deny, and if necessary, defeat our nation's adversaries," said Brigadier General and Domino advisor Bobby Kinney. "Domino's open, API-driven architecture ensures flexibility and freedom for users while offering control and built-in governance for platform and security owners — a critical role in how the DoD and its allies and partners modernize in the scaling of much-needed AI tooling and infrastructure." About Domino Data Lab Domino Data Lab empowers the largest AI-driven enterprises to build and operate AI at scale. Domino's Enterprise AI platform unifies the flexibility AI teams want with the visibility and control the enterprise requires. Domino enables a repeatable and agile ML lifecycle for faster, responsible AI impact with lower costs. With Domino, global enterprises can develop better medicines, grow more productive crops, develop more competitive products, and more. Founded in 2013, Domino is backed by Sequoia Capital, Coatue Management, NVIDIA, Snowflake, and other leading investors.

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CGI's Sunflower asset management cloud solution receives FedRAMP approval

PR Newswire | January 24, 2024

CGI Federal Inc., the wholly-owned U.S. operating subsidiary of CGI Inc., today announced that its Sunflower asset management cloud solution has received approval from FedRAMP, certifying CGI's cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for use across federal government agencies in the U.S. CGI's Sunflower cloud solution is a proven, built-for-federal capability that enables management of client property, including federal property, personal property and IT assets. Currently enabling management of 4.2 million client assets at over 75 federal entities, Sunflower asset management solutions provide clients with improved efficiency, software standardization and predictable costs, balancing client needs for flexibility and functionality. Many of the agencies currently using Sunflower today have authority to operate in cloud infrastructure environments. "For federal asset and financial managers confronting the challenges posed by cybersecurity, cloud modernization and digital transformation, Sunflower empowers organizations to improve decision-making, accountability and transparency," said John B. Owens II, Senior Vice President Consulting Delivery, Federal Solutions Group, CGI. "Sunflower's listing as a FedRAMP-approved solution provides federal IT decisionmakers with additional confidence that CGI cloud technologies meet the highest security and compliance standards for mission-critical government entities." FedRAMP is a government-wide program that promotes the adoption of secure cloud services across the federal government by providing a standardized approach to security and risk assessment for cloud technologies and federal agencies. As one of the most stringent compliance processes an IT provider can undertake, FedRAMP includes an in-depth examination of a solution's data security and data governance capabilities, as well as the security practices of its cloud services. About CGI Federal CGI Federal Inc., a wholly-owned U.S. operating subsidiary of CGI Inc., is dedicated to partnering with federal agencies to provide solutions for defense, civilian, healthcare, justice, intelligence, and international affairs missions. Founded in 1976, CGI Inc. is among the largest independent IT and business consulting services firms in the world. With 91,500 consultants and professionals across the globe, CGI Inc. delivers an end-to-end portfolio of capabilities, from strategic IT and business consulting to systems integration, managed IT and business process services and intellectual property solutions. CGI Inc. works with clients through a local relationship model complemented by a global delivery network that helps clients digitally transform their organizations and accelerate results. CGI Inc. Fiscal 2023 reported revenue is C$14.30 billion and CGI Inc.

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Plantronics, Inc. (“Poly” – formerly Plantronics and Polycom) (NYSE: PLT) is a global communications company that powers meaningful human connection and collaboration. Poly combines legendary audio expertise and powerful video and conferencing capabilities to overcome the distractions, complexity, a...

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