About a passion that connects people and systems


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2017)

Between November and early May, the words ‘we’re off skiing’!’ are heard very frequently from Claus Kolb, the Managing Director of kolb digital gmbh. Founding father Hans-Otto Kolb was also a gifted skier. It is passion that unites complex structures, techniques and challenges. 

Let me first ask a question. How does a software implementation and prepress enterprise come to write an article about skiing? Well, it’s really quite simple: detached from PIM, DAM, MRM and digital publishing, we would like to show you the passion that the Kolb family enterprise has when it comes to skiing. Because it is passion for things that unites people, partners and customers. 

Eight in the morning at the glacier: the slopes are untouched, the sun is rising and the sky is crystal clear. The Kolb family has its first skiing day of the season in mid-October – on a glacier close to the Bavarian capital Munich. Claus Kolb has been skiing since his early childhood, something he ensured his two children also experienced when they were young. His wife and co-Managing Director at kolb digital, Stefanie Kolb, had to acquire and share this passion very quickly as well. “It is the glue that keeps our family together – skiing. Although our children have already flown the nest, we come together to ski every winter”, she comments. It is therefore a passion that strengthens our family structure and cohesion. This raises the question: is this not also the case with the structures between partners, clients and service providers? One strives towards a common goal and is willing to embark on a journey there as a team. 

The fascination of the mountains and winter sports also influenced the choice of the second kolb digital site in Kitzbühel, Austria. If we look at a trail map for the Alps, we discover a plethora of connections and junctions. Cableways, tributaries and chalets are the common interfaces. Cableways bring the mountains together and hence unite complex and demanding pistes with slopes that are less challenging. They merge sports with lifestyle and nature, for families and friends. Then you reach the mountain and snap on your skis – or what our family calls the materials. In addition to great technique and balance, you also have to ensure that your skis are ideally conditioned and adapted to the circumstances. “If the materials are not right, this will have an impact on your technique and hence your speed when competing”, comments Claus Kolb, a former ski racer. 

However, the material’s tuning process starts long before the actual competition. The starting signal is sounded directly after the end of the previous season with the commencement of fitness and coordination training preparations. This can be viewed as the preparation phase (design) for the pending season. 

Racing begins on the glacier in July, with the materials being tested for the following season to ascertain whether they are suitable for day-to-day racing (POC). With skiing, it is important – from the first day of training on snow (implementation) – that the equipment is optimised and that all obstacles are removed. Each member of the Kolbs has approx. four to six pairs of skis, several pairs of goggles with corresponding lenses, gloves for various temperatures as well as two pairs of ski sticks, just in case one breaks (backup). The competition can commence once all factors are right and all phases have been completed (go live). Needless to say, training takes place between the competitions (testing), with continual technique optimisation (bug fixing). In the best-case scenario, training is carried out on competition pistes, while trying as best possible to replicate competitive conditions (test tracks).

Skiing encompasses numerous disciplines: slalom and giant slalom are the technical disciplines and hence form the basis for every action (DAM, PIM, MRM). Downhill and super G are the speed disciplines (commerce) that require considerable courage, as extremely challenging pistes are conquered at very high speeds. For the family, the most beautiful form of this leisure activity is relaxed, freestyle skiing. “Freestyling actually forms the basis of skiing.”, explains the owner’s son. So, it is the calling card of every skier (digital publishing). And the final discipline is après-ski. The connection (interface) between sport, panorama, snow and life is a cosy chalet at which to bring a day of skiing to a relaxing close (acceptance report). 

Following an extensive session on the slopes, the family loves nothing better than to sit together and end the day looking out over the mountains. And it goes without saying that memories are captured in the form of photos (pictures) and – in the age of social media – these pictures must be posted online (social media marketing). For this reason, the pictures are processed using corresponding filters and adapted (picture retouching). With a simple click, I have shared a passion that involves so many processes and connections with my friends and family. Today, we network with countless systems and people. This allows me to follow the activities and races of my former skiing companions. 

The absolute skiing highlight is a deep powder snow descent. Your heart just melts when you arrive on a mountain at dawn following a night of non-stop snow. After many active years of focusing on racing and analysing pistes and slaloms (data structures), being able to freestyle in deep powder snow is the most amazing sensation of all. The feeling of flying across the snow and floating on clouds is indescribable. The challenge, however, is that terrain with a fresh dusting of snow makes identifying potential obstacles very difficult (data gathering). You could potentially clip a tree root with the tip of your ski – ending your descent with an elegant forwards somersault, giving the family a reason to laugh. 

Falls are not uncommon when skiing. Terrain, speed, coordination, technique and materials can frequently be the cause of accidents. As is the case with other sports, skiing materials are adapted and improved from season to season. However, this makes skiing increasingly risky – or rather one’s own technique has to be constantly adjusted to the new conditions and properties. The decisive factor when it comes to the right skiing equipment is to have ski boots that are adjusted to your feet. These form the link between subjective skills and objective materials. Hence, the equipment must be customised to the respective skier to ensure the best possible handling (process optimisation). 

So, it becomes clear that passion unites. If we consider what is fun and what we are interested in, it becomes evident that there are many things in our private lives, our hobbies and our processes that can also be found in our day-to-day work. “Skiing warms the heart and you just switch off”, this is the motto of the Kolb family. Skiing unites us – and we help unite systems. We have approached achieving common objectives with the same passion that we have for skiing since 1970.

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Isabella Kolb, the owner’s daughter, has been working at the family-run company for the past two years. She is a member of the sale team, responsible for kolb digital’s marketing. Since childhood, she has been monitoring the activities of the company and its transformation from a classical prepress enterprise into a media service provider. kolb digital unites manual prepress processes with software-supported processes for maintaining PIM systems, for MRM planning processes, for DAM systems and for digital publishing.


kolb digital gmbh


Picture credit © Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

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