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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ARound and Immersal Team Up to Revolutionize Augmented Reality in Sports and Live Entertainment

PR Newswire | January 05, 2024

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Vuzix Introduces Z100 Smart Glasses to Seamlessly Connect Workers with AI Optimization Tools

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

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Stellantis, BlackBerry QNX and AWS Launch Virtual Cockpit, Transforming In-Vehicle Software Engineering

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

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ARound and Immersal Team Up to Revolutionize Augmented Reality in Sports and Live Entertainment

PR Newswire | January 05, 2024

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Vuzix Introduces Z100 Smart Glasses to Seamlessly Connect Workers with AI Optimization Tools

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Vuzix Corporation, a leading supplier of smart glasses and augmented reality (AR) technology and products, today announced the unveiling of Vuzix Z100 smart glasses, which will initially be offered as a developer's edition. Built using the Vuzix Ultralite OEM PlatformSM, these safety glasses-certified smart glasses are sleek and made for all day wear. Using them, workers get a human-centered connection to AI and work process applications, receiving critical updates, convenient workflow and task confirmations, and notifications in real time, all while wearing a pair of glasses that workers will enjoy having on. Vuzix Z100 smart glasses pair seamlessly via Bluetooth with Android or iOS IOT devices. They represent the first attractive, functional bridge between AI platform tools, where situational guidance can streamline workflows, and human workers can reap the benefits of a truly connected workplace. In addition to a lightweight AI interface, Vuzix Z100 glasses can augment the data feed from finger scanners, sensors, controllers, and other equipment with minimal native UI, making that data available in a new and highly accessible format. Tasks with sub-standard user feedback due to device or process limitations can now have their workflows displayed in the user's heads up display, providing human-centered outputs and real-time updates. Running up to 48 hours on a single charge, Vuzix Z100 smart glasses pack industry-defining heads-up waveguide technology into a sleek, fashionable form factor that weighs in at just 35 grams – the weight of a standard pair of glasses. Advanced monocular waveguide optics, combined with Vuzix' custom micro display engine, create a crisp, transparent, monochrome image that can deliver all the important information on a user's Android or iOS device, hands-free right before their eyes. Wearers get heads-up access to important task information, from language translation and closed captioning, to directions, to health and workout status, to messaging, workflow outputs and much more. Best of all, Vuzix Z100 smart glasses provide a sleek, attractive form factor that frontline employees will want to wear. "The Z100 takes enterprise use of AR smart glasses to the next level, providing workers with a hands-free wearable that is indistinguishable from a pair a standard glasses," said Paul Travers, President and Chief Executive Officer at Vuzix. "This rollout is in overwhelming response to interest expressed by enterprise customers in an attractive and light weight pair of smart glasses that can augment current workflows with AI optimization software. There are customers across numerous market verticals and use cases that we believe will embrace this product as fashionable and affordable productivity device that workers will enjoy wearing all day every day." About Vuzix Corporation Vuzix is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies and products for the enterprise, medical, defense and consumer markets. The Company's products include head-mounted smart personal display and wearable computing devices that offer users a portable high-quality viewing experience, provide solutions for mobility, wearable displays and augmented reality, as well OEM waveguide optical components and display engines. Vuzix holds more than 350 patents and patents pending and numerous IP licenses in the fields of optics, head-mounted displays, and augmented reality Video Eyewear field. Moviynt, an SAP Certified ERP SaaS logistics solution provider, is a Vuzix wholly owned subsidiary. The Company has won Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) awards for innovation for the years 2005 to 2024 and several wireless technology innovation awards among others. Founded in 1997, Vuzix is a public company with offices in: Rochester, NY; Munich, Germany; and Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan.

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Server Virtualization

Stellantis, BlackBerry QNX and AWS Launch Virtual Cockpit, Transforming In-Vehicle Software Engineering

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

Global automaker Stellantis N.V. led the creation of the world's first virtual cockpit platform as part of its Stellantis Virtual Engineering Workbench (VEW) enabling the delivery of infotainment tech to customers 100 times faster than previous processes. The new platform uses the QNX Hypervisor in the cloud from BlackBerry, which is now on early access release via AWS Marketplace within the QNX Accelerate portfolio of cloud-based tools. Stellantis can now create realistic virtual versions of car controls and systems, making them behave just like they would in a real car, but without needing to change the main software that runs them, taking what used to take months to be achieved down to 24 hours in some cases. Accessing QNX Hypervisor via AWS Marketplace enables Stellantis to include a virtual cockpit high-performance computing (HPC) simulation into a cloud environment. This industry-first platform for mixed-criticality and multi-OS embedded application development includes QNX Hypervisor Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) and industry-standard hardware interfaces as defined in the VirtIO standard Trout v1.2. With tools such as virtualization of graphics, audio, and touchscreen/mouse/keyboard inputs, the solution offers little to no difference between running QNX Hypervisor-based systems in the cloud versus on real hardware. Software is a key building block for Stellantis to deliver clean, safe and affordable mobility, as outlined in the Dare Forward 2030 strategic plan, and the driving force behind the AI-powered STLA Brain, STLA SmartCockpit and STLA AutoDrive technology platforms. In 2022, Stellantis selected AWS as its preferred cloud provider for vehicle platforms and the companies began work on Stellantis' purpose-built, in-house VEW. Taking a software-driven approach and deploying the QNX Hypervisor in the cloud, Stellantis can accelerate customer feedback sessions, and with minimal effort, replicate the cockpit experience of a particular brand and vehicle, and make changes in real time to optimize the experience for the driver. This real-time feedback, underpinned by low-latency access to the cloud, allows Stellantis to solicit valuable feedback from its customer and developer base to build future infotainment features and applications. "Software is becoming increasingly crucial in vehicles, leading us to innovate in how we develop and validate it," said Yves Bonnefont, Chief Software Officer at Stellantis. "With our virtual cockpit, we're revolutionizing not just our approach, but also that of our suppliers and partners in the industry. Essentially, we're able to get closer to our customer's needs through this technology with faster development cycles, faster feedback loops, and quicker delivery of the technology they use and love. It's a leap towards customer-first innovation and efficiency in the automotive world." "We're delighted to introduce early access availability of our trusted QNX Hypervisor platform in the cloud, leveraging the vendor and platform-neutral VirtIO standard that QNX has long-supported for its importance in creating a true-to-life virtual development environment for embedded software," said Mattias Eriksson, President, BlackBerry IoT. "Working with Stellantis to launch the world's first commercial hypervisor in the AWS cloud helps to reduce complexity, accelerate innovation and cut costs on in-car software development throughout the entire product lifecycle." "Software virtualization and abstraction in the cloud is vital to accelerating development and maintaining feature delivery on-pace with consumer demand," said Wendy Bauer, Vice President and General Manager, Automotive and Manufacturing, AWS. "With BlackBerry's QNX Hypervisor on AWS Marketplace, Stellantis can easily harness the power of the cloud to reimagine research and development processes, architect more insightful ways to solicit and integrate feedback, and deliver functions faster than before that delight drivers and further the industry." Standard VirtIO interfaces are also used by a suite of automotive partners to scale their offerings across OEMs and enable plug-and-play across the OEM landscape. Recognizing the benefits, AWS fully supports the VirtIO industry standard for cloud simulation of cockpit HPCs. BlackBerry QNX launched QNX Accelerate in January 2023 with its portfolio initially featuring QNX Neutrino RTOS 7.1 and the QNX OS for Safety 2.2.3, each provided as Amazon Machine Images allowing QNX customers to run a QNX OS natively on AWS cloud hardware. The early access release of QNX Hypervisor in the cloud is available now and general availability will be announced later in 2024. About BlackBerry BlackBerry provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world. The company secures more than 500M endpoints including over 235M vehicles. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, the company leverages AI and machine learning to deliver innovative solutions in the areas of cybersecurity, safety, and data privacy solutions, and is a leader in the areas of endpoint management, endpoint security, encryption, and embedded systems. BlackBerry's vision is clear - to secure a connected future you can trust. About Stellantis Stellantis N.V. is one of the world's leading automakers aiming to provide clean, safe and affordable freedom of mobility to all. It's best known for its unique portfolio of iconic and innovative brands including Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram, Vauxhall, Free2move and Leasys. Stellantis is executing its Dare Forward 2030, a bold strategic plan that paves the way to achieve the ambitious target of becoming a carbon net zero mobility tech company by 2038, while creating added value for all stakeholders.

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