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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Q&A with Sangram Vajre, Co-founder & Chief Evangelist at Terminus

MEDIA 7 | January 9, 2020

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Media 7 | April 22, 2020

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Q&A with Andy Brown, CEO at Engage

Media 7 | May 28, 2020

Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer at ENGAGE has worked in the research and consulting industry for 25 years. He was previously a Partner at Mercer Consulting, a Global Practice Leader at The Empower Group (the strategic consulting division of Manpower), Managing Director of YouGov Consulting and Head of Research at The Gallup Organization. Andy co-founded ENGAGE and has worked for the company since 2008 and, in 2013, co-led an MBO of the firm. He works with CEOs, boards and executive teams in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 firms, as well as with a range of fast-growing entrepreneurial start-ups. MEDIA 7: What are you most passionate about? ANDY BROWN: I’m passionate about four key things: helping organisations improve their performance; helping leaders to be as effective as possible; helping employees to feel a sense of purpose in their work; and, of course, my family!

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Q&A with Sangram Vajre, Co-founder & Chief Evangelist at Terminus

MEDIA 7 | January 9, 2020

Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder & Chief Evangelist at Terminus is also an author and host of the podcast FlipmyFunnel. He is one of the leading minds in B2B marketing. MEDIA 7: What are you passionate about? SANGRAM VAJRE: Three things: Lead professionally. Grow personally. Love family. M7: Terminus has been recognized as one of Georgia’s 40 fastest-growing companies by ACG Atlanta. What factors contribute to this pace? SV: One of our core values is #OneTeam – which means we think and act as one team and know that if we treat our team right, they will treat our customers amazing. There are no great companies, only great people that make those companies.

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Q&A with Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder, SharpEnd

Media 7 | April 22, 2020

Cameron Worth, CEO & Founder of SharpEnd leads the company’s mission to help brands move closer than ever to consumers by connecting packaging, retail and experiential activity. He is a regular speaker and writer on how to build brands in a connected world. He has spoken at Cannes, the Festival of Marketing, LuxePack Monaco and New York, Ad:Week Europe and New York, DMA, the Connected Consumer Conference, Mobile World Congress and the IoT World Forum. MEDIA 7: How did the idea of “the agency of things” come to your mind? CAMERON WORTH: SharpEnd was created in 2015 as the world’s first Internet of Things focused agency, so there is a slight play on words when we say we’re the Agency of Things. I think the idea of giving things their own agency is an interesting concept, and the strapline fits our capabilities on multiple levels. M7: In what way does technology drive the association of SharpEnd with global brands? What approaches are followed to enable sustainability? CW: Our simple proposition is to help build brands in a connected world, and to do that you must always start with identified consumer needs or pain points and look at technology as just an enabler to deliver an appropriate solution (when appropriate).  Take the issue of sustainability, which is often a pain point for brands that grapple with issues such as how we can reward sustainable behaviour change. One of our approaches to this could be to look at communicating the recycling credentials of the different products. Whilst the consumer can engage with a product as part of a wider consumer experience, the same technology could also house content that could tell you whether the product is recyclable, which type of bin it goes in etc. SharpEnd’s work with Unilever is a case in point. We built a digital product that incentivised recycling through gamification but also served to educate through informing people how and where to recycle in a clear fashion. All users had to do was simply scan their packaging to have all this information at their disposal.

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Media 7 | May 28, 2020

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SGH to Acquire Stratus Technologies

SMART Global Holdings, Inc. | June 30, 2022

SMART Global Holdings, Inc. (“SGH” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: SGH) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with affiliates of Siris Capital Group, LLC, to acquire Stratus Technologies (“Stratus”), a global leader in simplified, protected, and autonomous computing solutions in the data center and at the Edge. Under the terms of the agreement, SGH will pay $225 million in cash at closing and an earn-out payment of up to $50 million, based on the gross profit performance of the Stratus business during the first full 12 fiscal months of Stratus following the closingConsistent with the Company’s existing lines of business, Stratus delivers differentiated technology solutions to specialty end markets. In particular, the addition of Stratus’ high-availability, fault-tolerant computing platforms, software, and services will expand the Company’s Intelligent Platform Solutions (“IPS”) business to better serve Stratus and IPS customers worldwide. This transaction builds upon our successful track record of M&A at SGH, The high-availability and fault-tolerant capabilities of Stratus will expand our IPS offerings in Edge, Core, and Cloud, and will enable us to more comprehensively address our combined customers’ needs. We look forward to welcoming the Stratus team to SGH. Strategic and Financial Benefits Diversified solutions in the data center and at the Edge: Stratus’ high-availability and fault-tolerant platforms, software, and services expand IPS’ technology offerings. Large-scale global customer base: Stratus has a strong global customer base, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. Differentiated technology: Stratus offers differentiated products and services, consistent with SGH’s focus on providing value-add solutions for specialty end markets. Comprehensive services: Stratus’ services capabilities and infrastructure will result in adding more than $80M of higher margin, recurring revenue for IPS. Strong financial profile expected to be immediately accretive: The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to gross margin, non-GAAP EPS, and free cash flow. “By joining SGH, we significantly expand our customer reach and capabilities to deliver data center and Edge solutions and services, enabling our customers to run their most important mission-critical applications, We are excited to join SGH, and look forward to contributing to the company’s growth. Their operating model and acquisition strategy offer tremendous opportunity to our customers, partners, and employees.” -Dave Laurello, President and CEO of Stratus. Transaction Terms and Financing Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies, SGH will make an initial cash payment of $225 million upon closing. Additionally, Stratus equity holders have the potential to receive an earn-out payment up to $50 million based on the gross profit performance of the Stratus business during the first full 12 fiscal months of Stratus following the closing of the transaction, payable in cash, ordinary shares of SGH, or a mix of cash and ordinary shares of SGH (at SGH’s election). The transaction is subject to requisite regulatory approvals and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to any financing contingency. SGH exited its third fiscal quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $387 million and an additional $250 million revolving credit facility available for use. Following the close of the transaction, which is expected to occur in the second half of calendar year 2022, SGH expects to incorporate the Stratus brand and trademarks into the SGH portfolio of businesses and will operate Stratus under its Intelligent Platform Solutions Group. For more information about this transaction, please visit https://www.sghcorp.com/stratus/. About Stratus For leaders digitally transforming their operations to drive predictable, peak performance with minimal risk, Stratus ensures the continuous availability of business-critical applications by delivering zero-touch Edge Computing platforms that are simple to deploy and maintain, protected from interruptions and threats, and autonomous. For 40 years, we have provided reliable and redundant zero-touch computing, enabling global Fortune 500 companies and small-to-medium sized businesses to securely and remotely turn data into actionable intelligence at the Edge, Cloud and Data Center – driving uptime and efficiency.For more information, please visit https://www.stratus.com/. About SGH At SGH, our companies are united by a drive to raise the bar, execute with discipline and focus on what’s next for the technologies that support and advance the world. Across computing, memory, and LED lighting solutions, we build long-term strategic partnerships with our customers. Backed by a proven leadership team, we operate with excellence around the globe while unlocking new avenues of growth for our business and industry.Learn more about us at SGHcorp.com. About Siris Siris is a leading private equity firm that invests primarily in mature technology and telecommunications companies with mission-critical products and services, facing industry changes or other significant transitions. Siris' development of proprietary research to identify opportunities and its extensive collaboration with its Executive Partners and Advisors are integral to its approach. Siris' Executive Partners and Advisors are experienced senior operating executives that actively participate in key aspects of the transaction lifecycle to help identify opportunities and drive strategic and operational value. Siris is based in New York, Silicon Valley and West Palm Beach, and has raised nearly $6 billion in cumulative capital commitments.

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M&T Bank Launches Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab for Connecticut Business Owners

M&T Bank | July 01, 2022

M&T today announced plans to open its Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This seven-week program is intended to assist local multicultural business owners in flourishing, growing, and pursuing new ideas by providing guidance and skills to expand and operate their businesses. Up to 50 entrepreneurs will be accepted into the program. M&T will collaborate with the Innovation Center at the University of Bridgeport. Classes will be held at the John J. Cox Student Center at the University. The Innovation Lab will cover topics such as creating a business plan, credit fundamentals, marketing, legal entity formation, and pitch tips, among others. The program will conclude with a pitch competition, with M&T funding grants of up to $6,000. Entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the program must submit an online application by August 5th, 2022, and must meet the following eligibility requirements: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, or Asian American; No more than three years in business; and Annual business revenue of $150,000 or less. The M&T Bridgeport Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab will begin on September 21, 2022 and conclude on November 2, 2022 with a pitch competition. "This program will have a positive impact not only on local businesses, but on the entire community, benefitting the area's multitude of talented and diverse entrepreneurs, Through our conversations with state and local officials, community leaders, academic institutions and many local business owners, we have worked together to deliver a proven approach that can help these businesses thrive and grow." -Frank Micalizzi, M&T Regional President and Head of Commercial Banking for Bridgeport, CT The Connecticut Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab is part of M&T's bank-wide mission to create a culturally fluent bank that understands and addresses the needs of the communities it serves. M&T established the Multicultural Banking & Diverse Market Strategy segment in 2020 to specifically address the needs of multicultural communities, businesses, and individuals.

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OneDirectory Enters SMB Market With New Pricing Offer for Small Businesses

OneDirectory | June 29, 2022

OneDirectory, a leading software-as-a-service provider of modern employee directory software, announced the launch of its new employee directory pricing offer for small businesses. Since 2010, OneDirectory has helped over 500 businesses implement employee directory solutions to better connect their people and offices.Traditionally, OneDirectory has served larger businesses but with recent shifts to remote and hybrid work, even the smallest of businesses are needing a tool to bring their employees together. "Over the past year we've had an increase in smaller businesses reaching out and trialing our product,These are businesses with 100 employees or less that have wanted our product but our pricing plans have remained a roadblock." -Lawrence Cawood, CEO at OneDirectory To solve this OneDirectory created a new pricing plan to help smaller businesses gain the benefits of an enterprise employee directory solution. The new small business plan is $79 per month for businesses up to 100 employees, which is a saving of 68% on the previous lowest plan. OneDirectory's other pricing plans range from $249 to $2,000+ per month. "When tackling the SMB market many software providers reduce features and options for their smaller customers, So we've decided not to remove any product features from our new plan for small businesses." -Greg Bennett, Head of Marketing at OneDirectory When it comes to employee directories many small businesses have the same requirements as larger businesses, so OneDirectory made sure that their small business plan included all the following features: employee profiles, people search, office directory, skills directory, and org chart. We're excited to bring our software to smaller businesses and see the impact it will have on employee collaboration and engagement, says Cawood. Businesses of all sizes are struggling to connect their employees, especially as hybrid and remote work is becoming the norm. At OneDirectory, we remain focused on solving this problem with our modern employee directory platform. OneDirectory has six pricing plans tailored for different-sized businesses. The new plans are currently in effect as of 20th June 2022. The new pricing plans can be found here: https://www.onedirectory.com/pricing. About OneDirectory OneDirectory is a leading software-as-a-service provider of modern employee directory software that helps companies improve the efficiency of their digital workplaces. 500+ organizations rely on OneDirectory's employee directory platform to better connect their employees and offices.

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MANAGEMENT

SGH to Acquire Stratus Technologies

SMART Global Holdings, Inc. | June 30, 2022

SMART Global Holdings, Inc. (“SGH” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: SGH) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with affiliates of Siris Capital Group, LLC, to acquire Stratus Technologies (“Stratus”), a global leader in simplified, protected, and autonomous computing solutions in the data center and at the Edge. Under the terms of the agreement, SGH will pay $225 million in cash at closing and an earn-out payment of up to $50 million, based on the gross profit performance of the Stratus business during the first full 12 fiscal months of Stratus following the closingConsistent with the Company’s existing lines of business, Stratus delivers differentiated technology solutions to specialty end markets. In particular, the addition of Stratus’ high-availability, fault-tolerant computing platforms, software, and services will expand the Company’s Intelligent Platform Solutions (“IPS”) business to better serve Stratus and IPS customers worldwide. This transaction builds upon our successful track record of M&A at SGH, The high-availability and fault-tolerant capabilities of Stratus will expand our IPS offerings in Edge, Core, and Cloud, and will enable us to more comprehensively address our combined customers’ needs. We look forward to welcoming the Stratus team to SGH. Strategic and Financial Benefits Diversified solutions in the data center and at the Edge: Stratus’ high-availability and fault-tolerant platforms, software, and services expand IPS’ technology offerings. Large-scale global customer base: Stratus has a strong global customer base, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. Differentiated technology: Stratus offers differentiated products and services, consistent with SGH’s focus on providing value-add solutions for specialty end markets. Comprehensive services: Stratus’ services capabilities and infrastructure will result in adding more than $80M of higher margin, recurring revenue for IPS. 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Siris is based in New York, Silicon Valley and West Palm Beach, and has raised nearly $6 billion in cumulative capital commitments.

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FINANCE,BUSINESS STRATEGY

M&T Bank Launches Multicultural Small Business Innovation Lab for Connecticut Business Owners

M&T Bank | July 01, 2022

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TECHNOLOGY

OneDirectory Enters SMB Market With New Pricing Offer for Small Businesses

OneDirectory | June 29, 2022

OneDirectory, a leading software-as-a-service provider of modern employee directory software, announced the launch of its new employee directory pricing offer for small businesses. Since 2010, OneDirectory has helped over 500 businesses implement employee directory solutions to better connect their people and offices.Traditionally, OneDirectory has served larger businesses but with recent shifts to remote and hybrid work, even the smallest of businesses are needing a tool to bring their employees together. "Over the past year we've had an increase in smaller businesses reaching out and trialing our product,These are businesses with 100 employees or less that have wanted our product but our pricing plans have remained a roadblock." -Lawrence Cawood, CEO at OneDirectory To solve this OneDirectory created a new pricing plan to help smaller businesses gain the benefits of an enterprise employee directory solution. The new small business plan is $79 per month for businesses up to 100 employees, which is a saving of 68% on the previous lowest plan. OneDirectory's other pricing plans range from $249 to $2,000+ per month. "When tackling the SMB market many software providers reduce features and options for their smaller customers, So we've decided not to remove any product features from our new plan for small businesses." -Greg Bennett, Head of Marketing at OneDirectory When it comes to employee directories many small businesses have the same requirements as larger businesses, so OneDirectory made sure that their small business plan included all the following features: employee profiles, people search, office directory, skills directory, and org chart. We're excited to bring our software to smaller businesses and see the impact it will have on employee collaboration and engagement, says Cawood. Businesses of all sizes are struggling to connect their employees, especially as hybrid and remote work is becoming the norm. At OneDirectory, we remain focused on solving this problem with our modern employee directory platform. OneDirectory has six pricing plans tailored for different-sized businesses. The new plans are currently in effect as of 20th June 2022. The new pricing plans can be found here: https://www.onedirectory.com/pricing. About OneDirectory OneDirectory is a leading software-as-a-service provider of modern employee directory software that helps companies improve the efficiency of their digital workplaces. 500+ organizations rely on OneDirectory's employee directory platform to better connect their employees and offices.

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