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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Mercato | November 22, 2022

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Comcast | November 24, 2022

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Alaska Communications expands fiber internet to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Soldotna

Alaska Communications | December 02, 2022

For Anchorage bed and breakfast owner Kathryn Deal, having slow internet is a matter of having guests or no guests .Oftentimes, the first thing guests ask when they’re checking in is, ‘what’s your Wi-Fi password,’” said Deal. “Even when people are on vacation, they need reliable connectivity. It’s important to my business and my guests. My new fiber service has been a game-changer. Like small business owners, families need fast, reliable and affordable broadband to keep up with today’s demands. That’s why Alaska Communications is delivering the fastest home internet speeds in three communities with Alaska Communications Fiber. Using cutting-edge fiber optic technology, the broadband provider is leading the way in how fiber is delivered to end users. The company’s new broadband internet product is 100% fiber to the premise, delivering ultra-low latency, symmetric 2.5 gigabit per second connectivity directly to homes and businesses. Unlike cable modem networks commonly used to deliver high-speed internet to most urban Alaska homes, fiber-to-the-home greatly simplifies service delivery. Alaska Communications’ fiber-based broadband transmit faster symmetrical internet speeds with lower latency and higher reliability than cable modem providers.Some of our guests are surprised that we have fiber in Alaska – the latest technology,” said Deal. “The future is fiber and that’s our focus, The way people use the internet has fundamentally changed. This means that the way the internet is delivered also needs to change. Faster speeds, lower latency and higher reliability along with more choices – that’s what we’re bringing to our community in Alaska.” Mark Ayers, chief technology officer at Alaska Communications. Select neighborhoods in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Soldotna are eligible for service this year, with additional neighborhoods and communities planned for future years. To check if your home or business is eligible to receive fiber-to-the-home service, About Alaska Communications Alaska Communications, an affiliate of ATN International, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATNI), is the leading provider of advanced broadband and managed IT services for businesses and consumers in Alaska. The company operates a highly reliable, advanced statewide data network with the latest technology and the most diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous U.S.

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

Mercato Announces Launch of Thriving Communities Program, eCommerce Platform Increases Healthy Food Access and Grows Small Businesses

Mercato | November 22, 2022

Mercato, the nation's leading eCommerce platform for independent grocers, has announced its new initiative to improve access to healthy foods and foster economic stability in low-income communities. Thriving Communities works with local governments, private funders and non-profits to bring more grocers onto the eGrocery platform so they can digitize their inventory, offer delivery and enable enrollment and utilization of SNAP online.Mercato, the nation's leading eCommerce platform for independent grocers, has announced its new initiative It creates what founder and CEO Bobby Brannigan calls "The Mercato Effect" whereby grocers going online provides residents access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods and the ability to redeem public/private food benefits which in turn creates more jobs, increases grocers' sales and keeps dollars circulating within the community. As the son of an independent grocer in Brooklyn, I know first-hand how critical these independent, local grocers are to the economic and social well-being of their communities," said Brannigan. "They are the lifeline for so many residents to get fresh, healthy, culturally relevant foods without having to travel far or wait weeks to go to the market. By giving local grocers the tools and technologies to operate online, they can increase their own revenue and fuel healthier ecosystems throughout the country. New York City was the first city to partner with Mercato, leveraging Thriving Communities to test a technological pilot that offered subsidized groceries to a cohort of New Yorkers. "The pandemic challenged food security in unprecedented ways, Mercato's innovative work piloting online grocery benefits making healthy, affordable groceries accessible to all New Yorkers, no matter where they live. New York City is proud to innovate with technology and public benefits, and we are thrilled that Mercato recognizes this too." Kate MacKenzie, executive director, New York City Mayor's Office of Food Policy. Getting onto the Mercato platform was game-changing for our store and our shoppers," said Gustavo Rodriguez of Key Food Stadium, located in the Bronx. "Our sales are increasing literally every day, especially fresh produce, and the technology and service Mercato provides enables us to fulfill orders seamlessly and with the same personal attention and care that our shoppers need and deserve. It feels incredible to be feeding and helping low-income residents in our community." Mercato is looking to expand Thriving Communities by finding and collaborating with partners in other cities including Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. About Mercato Mercato is an eCommerce and local delivery platform that provides thousands of independent grocers across the country with the tools and technologies they need to stay competitive in the marketplace. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, it was founded by Bobby Brannigan, the son of a neighborhood grocer in Brooklyn, who saw his father needed to modernize his inventory and delivery systems to stay in business and better serve his shoppers. Since launching in 2015 Mercato has brought more than 1,500 stores across the country onto the platform.

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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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