While some classics stand the test of time, most fashions change with the seasons. Successful designers set the pace and constantly innovate to meet their vision—and the vision of their customers. This is the case at Del Brenta, which for more than 50 years has designed and manufactured heels, wedges, and platforms for the most recognized footwear brands in the world.
The fashion industry moves at lightning speed—until the day everything stopped.
“Del Brenta is a small company with a proud, decades-long history of meeting the exacting standards of our customers,” says CEO Luciano Polato. “We’re also a tightknit community of just 50 employees. When we were forced to shut down, we were immediately concerned about our employees’ health and livelihoods, as well as our ability to continue to support our customers.”
Business innovation continues—uninterrupted
It was fitting that plans for Del Brenta’s closure were shared over video using Cisco Webex. The company has relied on the Webex portolio for three years, using the technology to streamline business processes and simplify collaboration. Creative teams and clients meet virtually to review designs. At the same time, designers and operators on the shop floor work together in real time, sharing large design files. Other teams, from sales to logistics, join conversations easily. Significantly, Del Brenta uses Webex in its meetings with suppliers, a process Stefano Bezzon, head of Innovation at Del Brenta, credits with slashing error rates.
“We are focused on business innovation, and we always understood the potential of Webex,” explains Bezzon. “But, when we began using the technology in 2017, we never imagined the role it would play in assuring business continuity. Even during one of the worst crises imaginable, we were able to continue to operate. Our employees were working from home, yet for our customers, the transition was invisible. And that was our goal: to make sure we were always available to respond to our customers.”
With dedication, some heavy lifting, and Webex deployed company wide, Del Brenta transitioned its operations in a single day. In the weeks that followed, from locations across the region, it was nearly business as usual for most Del Brenta employees. Typical in-office functions, from reception to accounting, collaborated remotely. Sales teams continued to meet virtually with customers, a strategy started with the adoption of Webex to reduce travel time and improve efficiency. Even with the shop floor closed, creative and production teams kept the internal design process moving, engaging with suppliers to continue planning.
And it’s all done securely, which is vital because communications often share privileged documentation and intellectual property. Users can rely on standard network connections, but via a Cisco cloud so traffic is encrypted for control and compliance.
Preparing for what comes next
While the opportunities Webex provided to collaborate virtually helped Del Brenta ensure customer satisfaction, it was also critical to meeting another important goal: positioning Del Brenta for the next phase of reopening business. “Technology assured our customers’ perceptions of our business as ‘open,’ even as their own business slowed. Now, it’s helping us as we resume production,” Bezzon notes. “It certainly wasn’t an ideal proof of concept, but our ability to respond during the crisis allowed us to see how technology in general, and Webex in particular, can change the way we work in the future.”
Most of Del Brenta’s employees have returned to the office, but a few will continue to work from home. In fact, the company is beginning to identify KPIs for remote workers to ensure that everyone knows what to expect. Production has resumed and orders are beginning to ramp up as suppliers and customers that ceased operations open again. The company is even beginning to strategize for investment and innovation that will help it grow its core business.
A best practice for business resiliency
As small businesses reopen, stories like that of Del Brenta offer insight into best practices for recovery, resiliency, and innovation. “We learned a great deal through this crisis,” Bezzon says. “We discovered how resilient we are. Our employees are passionate; they’re willing to do whatever is needed to serve our customers. We’ve built an infrastructure, which includes technologies like Cisco Webex, that provides the support we need, no matter what happens. We innovated with collaboration and video conferencing tools, so we have a foundation for changing the way we work. Other businesses can do the same. Right now, most are thinking about returning to normal. But, in time, I believe many will embrace the opportunity technology offers. This makes me optimistic for the future.”
Read about other small businesses and find resources in “Beyond Survival: A Small Business Resiliency Guide” from Cisco and LinkedIn.