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

MEDIA 7 | November 21, 2019

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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Insight Partners | June 27, 2022

Global software investor Insight Partners announced the establishment of its Government Advisory Board, a group of government and defense leaders whose combined expertise will provide a valuable, actionable network for Insight's portfolio of software startup and ScaleUp companies. With a 25+ year legacy of investing in software, Insight Partners already has a long history of investing in government across federal, defense, state, and local sectors (including K12). The Government Advisory Board will advise Insight Partners about important public sector investment opportunities and risks, and bring their deep experience to the broad set of portfolio companies that are working with government customers. The government, across all sectors, needs the next generation of great software companies to better serve constituents, modernize government, and deliver services more effectively and securely. With investments in companies from all corners of the globe, Insight has always maintained a belief that great software companies can originate from anywhere, and with the right strategic partner, expand rapidly into new markets. The Government Advisory Board allows Insight to bring the perspectives of former government leaders to provide strategic counsel to portfolio companies—so they can be better equipped to support government agencies across a range of important missions. Insight Partners' Government Advisory Board is made up of preeminent leaders with many decades of experience in the U.S. government, including: Secretary Ash Carter, the 25th United States Secretary of Defense, and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. 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As of February 24, 2022, the closing of the firm's recent fundraise, Fund XII, brings Insight Partners' regulatory assets under management to over $90B. Insight Partners has invested in more than 600 companies worldwide and has seen over 55 portfolio companies achieve an IPO. Headquartered in New York City, Insight has offices in London, Tel Aviv, and Palo Alto. Insight's mission is to find, fund, and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with practical, hands-on software expertise to foster long-term success. Insight Partners supports great software leaders at all stages of their growth journey, from first investment to IPO.

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Guidehouse and TechSur Form SBA Mentor-Protégé Joint Venture

Guidehouse | June 27, 2022

Guidehouse, a leading global provider of consulting services to public sector and commercial clients, and technology solutions provider TechSur Solutions are pleased to announce a strategic Joint Venture (JV) and Mentor-Protégé Agreement (MPA) under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) through Guidehouse's acquisition of Dovel Technologies, LLC and its JV with TechSur, 1DTS. 1DTS successfully integrates the expertise of the two firms that specialize in digital transformation, bringing cloud-native applications, solutions, and analytics to government organizations. Guidehouse and TechSur have combined decades of experience providing innovative solutions across the federal government to include U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 1DTS is the culmination of that collective experience. As an 8(a) and EDWOSB, 1DTS can take organizations to the next levels of maturity through focused and impactful digital transformation strategies improving the mission of our customers. TechSur offers proven core competencies in mechanizing and automating the process of IT modernization while Guidehouse brings commensurate expertise in digital transformation and IT consulting. We look forward to significant collaboration through this joint venture to deliver innovative solutions for our Federal clients and team to address today's complex challenges for a more resilient tomorrow." Scott McIntyre,Guidehouse CEO Under the MPA, Guidehouse provides mentorship to TechSur as they seek opportunities in the Federal space for digital transformation, cloud native applications, legacy modernization, enterprise DevSecOps, data analytics, and adaptive artificial intelligence for mutual clients. "This partnership strengthens and highlights the technical savvy and expertise of both organizations," said Amit Yadav, Chief Technology Officer of TechSur Solutions. "Guidehouse is a powerhouse and increases our resources exponentially. We are very excited about this JV and the potential for delivering high-quality, timely, and customer-focused IT services while helping our clients solve their complex technical challenges." Guidehouse brings strength in the design and implementation of modernized enterprise architecture, systems integration, and agile-based software development, operations, and maintenance. TechSur Solutions is passionate about crafting aggressive and intentional technical solutions, all while remembering that at the end of the day, human beings have to want to use the technology. About Guidehouse Guidehouse is a leading global provider of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets, with broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk consulting. By combining our public and private sector expertise, we help clients address their most complex challenges and navigate significant regulatory pressures focusing on transformational change, business resiliency, and technology-driven innovation. Across a range of advisory, consulting, outsourcing, and digital services, we create scalable, innovative solutions that help our clients outwit complexity and position them for future growth and success. The company has more than 13,000 professionals in over 50 locations globally. Guidehouse is a Veritas Capital portfolio company, led by seasoned professionals with proven and diverse expertise in traditional and emerging technologies, markets, and agenda-setting issues driving national and global economies. About TechSur Solutions TechSur Solutions is a premier IT consulting services small business with a philosophy and a focus on invention. Their rich service portfolio offers Federal Agencies and commercial clients Digital Transformation and Modernization services. TechSur is an 8(a) certified Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) built on the belief that government deserves better engagement and a terrific user experience.

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GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

ECS Awarded $49M Contract by US Army in Support of Network Transformation

ECS | June 24, 2022

ECS, a leader in advanced technology, science, and digital transformation solutions, has been awarded a five-year contract by the U.S. Army valued at $49M. This project aligns with the Army’s larger network transformation strategy of providing units across the globe with a simple-to-use, expeditionary, mobile, hardened tactical network. To that end, ECS will provide software licensing, engineering services, training, and laboratory services to support the accreditation, integration, testing, and fielding of security software products. We are looking forward to partnering with the Army in modernizing and strengthening its tactical networks. ECS currently supports the deployment of the Army Endpoint Security Solutions (AESS) program, integrating, testing, accrediting, and fielding solutions that protect up to 800,000 endpoints. This wealth of experience will help inform our low-risk methodology in support of the Army’s network transformation initiative.” John Heneghan, president of ECS “With this contract award, ECS has the opportunity to help the Army achieve multiple mission objectives while advancing the greater strategy of transforming its tactical networks,” said Mark Maglin, vice president of Department of Defense (DoD) Cybersecurity at ECS. “Using our experience delivering the AESS for the enterprise, we are ready to leverage our expertise across software engineering and cybersecurity disciplines to help the Army achieve a unified network, increased visibility, and an improved cybersecurity posture.” About ECS ECS, ASGN’s federal government segment, delivers advanced solutions in cybersecurity, data and artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, application and IT modernization, science, and engineering. The company solves critical, complex challenges for customers across the U.S. public sector, defense, intelligence, and commercial industries. ECS maintains partnerships with leading cloud, cybersecurity, and AI/ML providers and holds specialized certifications in their technologies. Headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, ECS has more than 3,500 employees throughout the United States. About ASGN ASGN Incorporated is one of the foremost providers of IT and professional services in the technology, digital, creative, engineering and life sciences fields across commercial and government sectors. ASGN helps leading corporate enterprises and government organizations develop, implement, and operate critical IT and business solutions through its integrated offering of professional staffing and IT solutions.

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