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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EchoStar | November 25, 2022

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Travelers Institute and Cambridge Mobile Telematics Release Educational Guide to Help Curb Distracted Driving

Travelers | November 24, 2022

The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV), today released “Every Second Matters®: Reducing Distracted Driving, One Voice at a Time,” an educational guide published in partnership with Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics company. “The guide highlights new statistics that show how risky driving behaviors, such as speeding and texting behind the wheel, accelerated during the pandemic,” said Joan Woodward, President of the Travelers Institute and Executive Vice President of Public Policy at Travelers. “Throughout the report, we provide an eye-opening account of the dangers of distraction and arm drivers with important resources for staying safe on the road.” The Every Second Matters guide outlines steps motorists can take to improve their driving habits, including: Adopt a professional driver’s mindset: Hands on wheel, eyes on road, mind on driving. Don’t be a distraction: According to the 2022 Travelers Risk Index, nearly 80% of drivers make or take calls while driving, so avoid becoming the distraction – don’t call or text employees, family members and friends while they are on the road. Activate “Do Not Disturb”: Use this setting while driving to silence notifications and avoid distractions. Speak up: Let risky drivers know of their dangerous behavior and encourage others to do the same when they are passengers in a car. Get feedback: Consider enrolling in a telematics program that provides feedback as well as incentives for driving safely. The report also highlights the benefits of telematics programs. Data from CMT shows that drivers who open their telematics app more than three times a week are 65% safer and 57% less distracted than those who don’t. “Telematics programs are changing behaviors and reducing distractions on the road,” said Ryan McMahon, Senior Vice President of Strategy at CMT. “By joining a telematics program, drivers are learning about their habits and improving roadway safety for all. Consumers are seeing these benefits, and telematics programs are more popular than ever as a result.” Other key findings from CMT include: More than 35% of car trips involve some type of phone distraction. More than 35% of distracted driving happens over 50 mph. The most distracted drivers are 2.2 times more likely to crash than the least distracted drivers. Through the Every Second Matters distracted driving education initiative, the Travelers Institute publishes materials and hosts events that encourage drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians to play an active role in changing roadway behaviors. To learn more about the Travelers Institute and read the Every Second Matters educational guide, visit travelersinstitute.org. About Cambridge Mobile Telematics Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is the world’s largest telematics service provider. Its mission is to make the world’s roads and drivers safer. The company’s AI-driven platform, DriveWell®, gathers sensor data from millions of IoT devices — including smartphones, proprietary Tags, connected vehicles, dashcams, and third-party devices — and fuses them with contextual data to create a unified view of vehicle and driver behavior. Companies from personal and commercial auto insurance, automotive, rideshare, smart cities, wireless, financial services, and family safety industries use insights from CMT’s platform to power their risk assessment, safety, claims, and driver improvement programs. Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with offices in Budapest, Chennai, Seattle and Tokyo, CMT serves millions of people through 80 programs in 18 countries, including 21 of the top 25 US auto insurers. For more information, visit cmtelematics.com. About the Travelers Institute The Travelers Institute, the public policy division of The Travelers Companies, Inc., engages in discussion and analysis of public policy topics of importance to the insurance marketplace and to the financial services industry more broadly. The Travelers Institute draws upon the industry expertise of Travelers’ senior management as well as the technical expertise of many of Travelers’ underwriters, risk managers and other experts to provide information, analysis and solutions to public policymakers and regulators. Travelers is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business.

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