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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Ladder and Envestnet | MoneyGuide Announce Integration to Provide More Advisors Digital Access to Term Life Insurance Offerings

PR Newswire | January 29, 2024

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Annuities

Bow River Advisers Partners with New York Life Investment Management to Expand Private Equity Access Through Evergreen Fund

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

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Risk Management

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Business Wire | January 12, 2024

Riskonnect, the leader in integrated risk management (IRM) solutions, today announces its acquisition of Ventiv Technology, a market-leading provider of risk, insurance, and underwriting technology solutions. The acquisition fuels growth and innovation for Riskonnect and drives value for customers by enabling the organizations to bring all aspects of risk under one roof. Riskonnect’s acquisition of Ventiv will enhance value for the 2,500+ combined customers globally. Ventiv is known for its innovation in RMIS Analytics (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Benchmarks, Geospatial), claims administration, billing, and policy solutions. Customers rely on Riskonnect for the breadth and depth of its integrated risk management platform. The combined offerings will create a comprehensive suite of risk management tools that streamlines data management, provides actionable insights tailored to specific business sectors, and turns risk into a strategic advantage. “We’re thrilled to welcome the entire Ventiv team to Riskonnect. The acquisition adds substantial value for our customers, giving users of both companies access to a broader range of products and services that are intentionally designed to meet the diverse needs of modern risk management,” said Jim Wetekamp, Riskonnect’s CEO. “We’re bringing a value enhancing suite of tools to market that equips organizations to confidently answer the increasingly imperative question – ‘how at risk are we?’. Our complementary technologies and shared commitment to helping customers stay ahead of the rapidly evolving risk landscape positions all our key stakeholders for success.” The companies’ combined expertise and technology across incident tracking, claims administration, claims management, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), business continuity and resilience, and predictive analytics creates a one-stop-shop for organizations seeking end-to-end risk solutions. “We share Riskonnect’s mission to transform the way companies manage risk,” said Salil Donde, Ventiv’s CEO. “Pooling our resources and expertise enables us to continue to innovate on AI-driven predictive analytics and expand our reach globally to best serve the present and future needs of our customers.” Riskonnect’s current majority investor, TA Associates (TA), a leading global private equity firm, supported the acquisition of Ventiv with additional investment capital. TA will continue as the majority owner. Union Square Advisors LLC served as the exclusive financial advisor to Ventiv and Davis Polk & Wardwell served as legal advisor. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Riskonnect. “By joining forces, Riskonnect and Ventiv Technology, both recognized as industry leaders in the Redhand RMIS Report, are not only consolidating their technological expertise but also strengthening their commitment to providing leading RMIS solutions to customers seeking to optimize their risk management strategies,” said Patrick O’Neill, president and founder of Redhand Advisors. About Riskonnect Riskonnect is the leading integrated risk management software solution provider. Our technology empowers organizations with the ability to anticipate, manage, and respond in real-time to strategic and operational risks across the extended enterprise. More than 2,500 customers across six continents use our unique risk-correlation technology to gain previously unattainable insights that deliver better business outcomes. Riskonnect has more than 1,100 risk management experts in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. About Ventiv Technology Ventiv Technology is a leading global provider of risk management information systems (RMIS), enterprise risk management (ERM), insurance claims, billing, and policy administration technology integrated with its market-leading analytics and predictive models. Ventiv Technology’s SaaS and on-premise solutions are deployed by insurers, brokers, insured corporate entities, federal and regional governments, public entities, third-party claims administrators (TPAs), and risk pools across a variety of industries, including transportation and logistics, retail, financial services, leisure and hospitality, energy, aviation, and manufacturing among several others.

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Ladder and Envestnet | MoneyGuide Announce Integration to Provide More Advisors Digital Access to Term Life Insurance Offerings

PR Newswire | January 29, 2024

Today at the T3 Technology Conference, Ladder, the insurtech offering digital, flexible life insurance in minutes announced an integration with Envestnet | MoneyGuide, a leading financial planning software company serving over 107,000 financial advisors. This will empower more financial advisors with the capabilities to provide clients with term life insurance issued by reputable insurers. With this partnership, financial advisors utilizing Envestnet I MoneyGuide Elite's Advanced Lifetime Protection tool will be able to offer their clients digital, convenient, and affordable term life insurance. Financial advisors will be able to estimate clients' coverage needs, generate a quote, and send clients a link to apply—all from within the Envestnet | MoneyGuide platform. MoneyGuide's Advanced Lifetime Protection tool is designed to illustrate how a clients' protection needs can change over time. This tool may help advisors identify an opportunity to improve a client's probability of successfully achieving the goals in their client's financial plan. "Life insurance is a critical piece of a comprehensive financial plan," says Mike Izakov, Head of Financial Institution Partnerships at Ladder. "We believe MoneyGuide has the most robust planning tool in the industry, and we're excited to make it even easier for advisors to get clients the coverage their plans call for." With Ladder's industry-leading digital capabilities and proprietary flexible coverage (i.e. "laddering"), advisors using Envestnet | MoneyGuide will be able to utilize a visualization showcasing how a strategically laddered Ladder policy may save clients up to 40%* over a 30-year term compared to traditional term coverage. "Envestnet's generational research shows that a surprising 50% of Baby Boomers are not formally organizing their long-term finances," said Rose Palazzo, Group President of Envestnet Financial Planning. "Through our partnership with Ladder, our advisors are better equipped to help their clients take action on organizing their financial plans, including the important step of seeking to secure their financial futures through life insurance coverage. Ladder provides our advisors with digital access to term life insurance products, with an integration built right into our protection planning solution." Ladder offers term life insurance for coverage between $100,000 and $8 million, for terms ranging from 10 to 30 years. There are no medical exams required for coverage up to $3 million, just questions about an applicant's health are asked. The pricing is fully underwritten and backed by reputable carriers. Ladder offers a variety of partnership and compensation models to meet the needs of fee-based and insurance-licensed financial advisors. About Ladder Ladder is the first full-stack, digital life insurance company offering flexible online term coverage in minutes that can save policyholders up to 40%* by adjusting their coverage as their life changes. Ladder uses real-time underwriting to make life insurance as accessible, affordable, and beloved as it should be. The company is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, and offers coverage up to $8M with no hidden fees. ABOUT ENVESTNET Envestnet is transforming the way financial advice is delivered through an ecosystem of technology, solutions, and intelligence. By establishing the connections between people's daily financial decisions and long-term financial goals, Envestnet empowers them to make better sense of their finances and live an Intelligent Financial Life. With more than $5.4 trillion in platform assets—more than 107,000 advisors, 16 of the 20 largest U.S. banks, 48 of the 50 largest wealth management and brokerage firms, more than 500 of the largest RIAs, and thousands of companies, depend on Envestnet technology and services to help drive better outcomes for their businesses and for their clients.

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Annuities

Bow River Advisers Partners with New York Life Investment Management to Expand Private Equity Access Through Evergreen Fund

PR Newswire | January 10, 2024

New York Life Investment Management ("NYLIM") today announced a strategic partnership with Bow River Advisers, a subsidiary of Bow River Capital. The partnership combines NYLIM's distribution and client service strengths, with Bow River Advisers' expertise in private markets investing and portfolio management. With this new agreement, NYLIM will take a minority interest in Bow River Advisers and serve as distribution partner for the Bow River Capital Evergreen Fund ("EVERX" or "the Fund"), a fund that provides access to a diversified portfolio of private equity investments. "New York Life Investment Management has been committed to providing quality alternative investment solutions to our clients for more than two decades," said New York Life Investment Management Chief Operating Officer Kirk Lehneis. "This partnership with Bow River Advisers, an innovator in providing high-quality private equity exposure in an investor-friendly structure, will allow us to provide a more differentiated product offering to our clients, while providing additional support to the Fund's existing client base." The Bow River Capital Evergreen Fund was launched in May 2020, and provides access to a broad range of private equity investments across sector, sponsor, geography and size. The Fund's combination of immediate investment exposure, broad diversification and low investment minimums ($50,000 for accredited investors) has attracted interest from a wide range of investors, particularly those interested in diversifying their traditional stock and bond portfolios. "We built the Bow River Capital Evergreen Fund to provide investors with what we believe is an easily accessible private equity portfolio," said Jeremy Held, Managing Director, Bow River Advisers and President of the Evergreen Fund. "Our partnership with New York Life Investment Management provides significant resources that will allow us to broaden the Fund's investor base while remaining focused on portfolio management and the Fund's day-to-day operations. As one of the largest and most well-respected institutional investors in the world, New York Life Investment Management will bring expertise that can enhance the reach of the Fund going forward." NYLIM will provide distribution and marketing support to the Fund, and Bow River Capital Evergreen's investment strategy, team and day-to-day operations will remain unchanged. About New York Life Investments With over $687 billion in Assets Under Management as of September 30, 2023, New York Life Investments, Pensions and Investments' 25th Largest Money Manager, is comprised of the affiliated global asset management businesses of its parent company, New York Life Insurance Company, and offers clients access to specialized, independent investment teams through its family of affiliated boutiques. New York Life Investments remains committed to clients through a combination of the diverse perspectives of its boutiques and a long-lasting focus on sustainable relationships. "New York Life Investments" is both a service mark, and the common trade name, of certain investment advisors affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company. About Bow River Capital Bow River Capital is a private alternative asset manager based in Denver, Colorado, focused on investing in the lower and middle market in four asset classes: private credit, private equity, real estate, and software growth equity. Through its subsidiary Bow River Advisers, LLC, Bow River Capital also offers a registered interval fund – Bow River Capital Evergreen Fund (EVERX) – designed to provide private market access to a broader set of investors. Collectively, the Bow River Capital team has deployed capital into diverse industries, asset classes and across the capital structure.

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Risk Management

Riskonnect Acquires Ventiv Technology to Accelerate Customer Value and Global Growth

Business Wire | January 12, 2024

Riskonnect, the leader in integrated risk management (IRM) solutions, today announces its acquisition of Ventiv Technology, a market-leading provider of risk, insurance, and underwriting technology solutions. The acquisition fuels growth and innovation for Riskonnect and drives value for customers by enabling the organizations to bring all aspects of risk under one roof. Riskonnect’s acquisition of Ventiv will enhance value for the 2,500+ combined customers globally. Ventiv is known for its innovation in RMIS Analytics (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Benchmarks, Geospatial), claims administration, billing, and policy solutions. Customers rely on Riskonnect for the breadth and depth of its integrated risk management platform. The combined offerings will create a comprehensive suite of risk management tools that streamlines data management, provides actionable insights tailored to specific business sectors, and turns risk into a strategic advantage. “We’re thrilled to welcome the entire Ventiv team to Riskonnect. The acquisition adds substantial value for our customers, giving users of both companies access to a broader range of products and services that are intentionally designed to meet the diverse needs of modern risk management,” said Jim Wetekamp, Riskonnect’s CEO. “We’re bringing a value enhancing suite of tools to market that equips organizations to confidently answer the increasingly imperative question – ‘how at risk are we?’. Our complementary technologies and shared commitment to helping customers stay ahead of the rapidly evolving risk landscape positions all our key stakeholders for success.” The companies’ combined expertise and technology across incident tracking, claims administration, claims management, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), business continuity and resilience, and predictive analytics creates a one-stop-shop for organizations seeking end-to-end risk solutions. “We share Riskonnect’s mission to transform the way companies manage risk,” said Salil Donde, Ventiv’s CEO. “Pooling our resources and expertise enables us to continue to innovate on AI-driven predictive analytics and expand our reach globally to best serve the present and future needs of our customers.” Riskonnect’s current majority investor, TA Associates (TA), a leading global private equity firm, supported the acquisition of Ventiv with additional investment capital. TA will continue as the majority owner. Union Square Advisors LLC served as the exclusive financial advisor to Ventiv and Davis Polk & Wardwell served as legal advisor. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Riskonnect. “By joining forces, Riskonnect and Ventiv Technology, both recognized as industry leaders in the Redhand RMIS Report, are not only consolidating their technological expertise but also strengthening their commitment to providing leading RMIS solutions to customers seeking to optimize their risk management strategies,” said Patrick O’Neill, president and founder of Redhand Advisors. About Riskonnect Riskonnect is the leading integrated risk management software solution provider. Our technology empowers organizations with the ability to anticipate, manage, and respond in real-time to strategic and operational risks across the extended enterprise. More than 2,500 customers across six continents use our unique risk-correlation technology to gain previously unattainable insights that deliver better business outcomes. Riskonnect has more than 1,100 risk management experts in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. About Ventiv Technology Ventiv Technology is a leading global provider of risk management information systems (RMIS), enterprise risk management (ERM), insurance claims, billing, and policy administration technology integrated with its market-leading analytics and predictive models. Ventiv Technology’s SaaS and on-premise solutions are deployed by insurers, brokers, insured corporate entities, federal and regional governments, public entities, third-party claims administrators (TPAs), and risk pools across a variety of industries, including transportation and logistics, retail, financial services, leisure and hospitality, energy, aviation, and manufacturing among several others.

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