For Benedikt Böhm, a record-breaking climber and skier and the CEO of Dynafit—maker of high-end skiing, mountaineering, and hiking gear—success in business and competition is all about Leichtigkeit. That’s a German word that means lightness and simplicity.
Böhm finds Leichtigkeit in Dynafit’s products: the lightest, most reliable equipment and apparel for “human-powered alpine pursuits.” He sees it in company culture: a small business that has evolved over more than three decades to be agile and efficient, with a clear focus on customers.
Significantly, he recognizes it in his passion for climbing and skiing in some of the world’s toughest terrain. In treacherous environments like the highest peaks in the Himalayas, lightness and simplicity can mean the difference between life and death.
“My goal is always to make things not only lighter in terms of weight, but also simpler, more intuitive. Also, if you talk about products, everything, it’s much harder to make things lighter and simpler than to leave them difficult and heavy.
Small business success in a time of disruption
For the last several months, businesses of all sizes have confronted unimaginable challenges, some struggling to survive. And while all feel the impact of this economic climate, not everyone bears the weight equally. Small businesses like Dynafit are especially vulnerable. (To see tools to support small business resiliency, visit the Cisco Empowering Small Business Recovery resource center.)
In this Cisco TechBeat podcast, Böhm shares his thoughts about using lightness and simplicity to lead a business through difficult times; the importance of digitization to business success; the value of cloud technology, which he calls his company’s solid “home base”; the threat of cybercrime and the importance of cybersecurity; and the power of partnership.
Böhm is joined for the podcast by Bidhan Roy, Cisco’s managing director and head of commercial and small business for Asia Pacific, Japan, and China; and Carlos Torales, managing sales director for small and medium business in the Latin America region. Roy and Torales share the results of the 2020 Small Business Digital Maturity Study, an IDC report commissioned by Cisco. IDC surveyed 2030 respondents in eight markets around the globe to determine how small and medium businesses—which account for 47 percent of the global GDP—are adapting and recovering in the face of economic disruption, many with the help of technology.
The impact of collaboration technology
The IDC study noted that 70 percent of businesses worldwide are beginning to increase digitization initiatives. Böhm says that at Dynafit, this has meant fully adopting some of the technologies already in place. “The most interesting part was that a lot [of technology] was already available,” he explains. “For example, we had all our subsidiaries worldwide connected through perfect Cisco Webex rooms…, but nobody used it.” Instead, Böhm adds, employees, himself included, would fly to meetings around the globe.
“Suddenly we’re forced to [rely on Webex]. All of us worldwide, all employees. The number-one experience was that suddenly we were used to it, [and we saw] how simple it is,” he says. “I just open my phone and I click on my Cisco Webex app and suddenly everything opens up and I see people from all over the world.”
A vital connection to customers drives business success
Böhm notes that while Dynafit originated from a classic B2B model with dealers around the world, the current environment has opened the door to more interaction with customers, which he hopes will enhance business success.
Our customers “wanted to talk to us while many of our dealers were closed. We wanted, of course, to stay in touch with them. And that’s something beautiful… we suddenly have this direct line to our consumers [through] technology. We got much closer to our end consumer, which I think would have taken another two years, and… was just becoming much, much faster through the pandemic.”
Trust in partnership
In his business and life, Böhm choses his partners carefully. He emphasizes the importance of trust in the relationship, whether he’s selecting a technology partner—like Cisco—or a teammate for a Himalayan climb. “We are looking for long-term partnerships, and long-term partnerships always mean trust. Trust for me means responsibility,” he says. “That’s nothing different on a mountain. On the mountain, I need partners who understand the way I work, and I need to understand how they work.
“I am looking for somebody who understands us, but even more, [wants to understand] our customers, who travels together with us to really understand… how we can best find a solution to the problems we have, or to make our business better.”