When Impacto TIC went from being a journalistic idea to being a media and a digital services company, its co-founders, Fernando Muñoz and I did not measure the magnitude of the challenge, especially due to our essentially journalistic training: not only you had to generate a sustainable business model, but we also had to learn to deal with accounting, administrative and tax issues, marketing and business management and 'defend' in all the others business processes.

Without technology, taking off would have been almost impossible: We did not yet have an office, so remote work was our way of life, and therefore the Internet and different digital platforms were our great allies.

To communicate between the 4 initial members of the team, we soon switched from our personal Gmail emails to the corporate emails included in our hosting service, and from WhatsApp or Telegram to a group messaging platform called Twist.

Our video conferences were born in Google Hangouts, but we soon found in Appear.in the simplicity and stability we needed, and in Streamyard, the ideal platform for our live video broadcasts.

Mailchimp and MDirector were our weapons for email marketing, and TypeForm had been our beloved tool for online forms and polls for years.

Presentations and proposals were always at Keynote; text documents, in Google Docs or Microsoft Word; the company accounts, initially in Excel and then in Google Spreadsheets; we stored the documents in shared folders in our Dropbox and Google Drive accounts; Each member of the team managed their own calendar software, and the commercial management - if to have a simple list of active and potential clients you can call it that - we handled it in one more spreadsheet.

Technology had helped us, since January 2018, to survive and grow, but at the same time It was starting to cause us problems. In the panorama we saw many opportunities for the media, for growth in the team and the consolidation of the company, but at the same time we feared for the challenges that came: if being a small team of 4 people we were 'going crazy' with our communication and collaboration, and with the administrative and commercial processes, what would it be like when there were 8 of us and we had several projects going on at the same time? You had to do something, and do it well.

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We needed help to free ourselves from the processes we did not master, to consolidate the team and to optimize our communication, collaboration, project management, commercial and logistics processes. 

And, since mid-2018, we began to explore different tools for our key processes, always focused on cloud platforms. We started with 2 processes in which we were in diapers: commercial and project management. So we analyzed different CRM tools, from Salesforce, HubSpot, Zoho CRM and Pipedrive (and we took note of many comparatives, like this), and project management, such as Microsoft Project, Wrike, Asana, Monday, Basecamp and Trello.

To optimize email, our first choice was Gmail, part of the G Suite, which would also allow us to migrate our documents and cloud storage to Google Docs and Google Drive. However, the alternative of Microsoft Office 365 –With OneDrive included– it was also very attractive, and both suites added messaging software –Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Yammer– and other useful tools.

We only planned to be faithful to Keynote and our video conferencing platform, Appear.in, because even Twist, a great messaging service, was under review before the good options of Google and Microsoft, and competitors like Zoho Cliq and Slack - the king of the category-.

After searching and pre-selecting the best alternatives for each process, we found a long list that, in addition, would have represented the payment of several invoices each month and would significantly increase our costs.

Zoho One comes to us

In August of 2018, a press event would shed light on what we should do

raju vegesna, global chief evangelist for the Indian-based company Zoho, and Fernando Sotelo placeholder image, LatAm Director of Customer & Partner Success at Zoho, were in Bogotá to present Zoho One, the suite of integrated business and productivity applications.

Zoho was already an old acquaintance to one of us. Around 2007, I used your online survey creation application on a blog I had then at eltiempo.com, and highlighted this and other tools in some of the contents of Enter magazine and the Technology section of El Tiempo, and years later, in Money and Week notes. Later, between 2012 and 2015, I used Zoho Mail as my email platform. Journalism Hangouts, and I started hearing about Zoho One when I had about 20 applications, although I saw it as something unattainable. Also, in our exploration of tools, Zoho CRM and messaging platform Zoho Click They were among the best in their category.

Now, after this meeting with Zoho executives and a greater understanding of the benefits of Zoho One, this suite began to emerge as our chosen one to drive the evolution of Impacto TIC.

https://twitter.com/MauricioJaramil/status/1032351898374795264

It was not for less: Zoho One integrates more than 40 applications, most of them very well positioned in their segments, which They cover almost all business needs in different fields: marketing and sales, communication and collaboration, productivity, finance and human resources, among others.

Zoho One Announcement

 

Zoho One's value proposition solved one of the problems we were already beginning to face: the complexity of managing many applications that did not converse with each other.

We knew, when starting to study the entire suite in depth, that of all these applications, most of them with their mobile version, Impacto TIC I would only take advantage of a handful of them. But there were a couple of drivers for our decision: the unbeatable price –30 dollars per employee per month– and, above all, the high integration of all applications, which would allow us to use the data generated by one of them in others.

Zoho One

Initially, Zoho One only had one pay model: $ 30 a month per employee, for all employees. Now, for companies that do not need everyone to join the platform, there is a plan of $ 75 per user per month.

And there was one more: we felt that we really needed a CRM, to start our commercial management, and to handle our projects better and less by hand. So, if it was about specific applications, Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects were the ones that finally convinced us.

New steps and a proposal

2019 began and, after analyzing all the options, we made the decision: we opted for a suite that would integrate everything for us, instead of opting for fantastic tools but some of them isolated. With the decision made, we began to take other steps with a view to growth.

We contacted the Zoho Latin America team, with the support of our agency friends Axon, to make a proposal that, we hoped, would be attractive: it was an exchange of services in which Zoho would give us access to Zoho One for a year - and would allow us to check if the promises of the suite were true -, and Impacto TIC would offer some of its most successful services, el journalistic content marketing and event coverage.

In addition to having one year of the suite for all team members - currently 8 - the proposal sought tell with the accompaniment and training of Zoho to get the key decisions of adoption right, and learn to get the most out of each of the tools that we implement.

Bottom line: Zoho One would help Impacto TIC to take a business leap, and Impacto TIC would help Zoho expand the visibility of Zoho One to the qualified audience of Impacto TIC. 

What did Zoho Latin America respond to us? Guess what: this is the first content of a special microsite that will publish Impacto TIC and that will include the coverage of Zoholics Colombia, the event that the company will hold on October XNUMX in Bogotá, and other journalistic content.

Adoption begins ... and plans are adjusted

With the dream of optimizing projects and business management, we opened our Zoho One account and in a few minutes we created user accounts and selected the applications to which each would have access.

Zoho Mail and Cliq were the first applications to spring into action, followed by WorkDrive (Zoho's DropBox). The positive impact on team communication and productivity was high and, best of all, immediate. We began to enjoy a reliable and efficient mail service, with options such as message scheduling, read notification and signature management; of a messaging platform that not only allowed us to have different chats or channels (journalistic, events, projects, company finances, etc.), but also make video calls with a click or a touch of the screen. Migrating from our personal clouds to WorkDrive was a simple process that also took away the worry of running out of space: each WorkDrive user has 1 TB (terabyte) of capacity.

On the go we were testing different tools, and of the 8 applications we were planning to use, after a few months we are already in more than 15. Campaigns - 'the Zoho MailChimp' - was easier to use and more effective than we thought; Zoho Survey we were surprised with the ease of creating online surveys and forms, to the point that today we use it for our talent calls and client projects - and we don't miss TypeForm, although it is less beautiful than this one; Social Zoho It helps us manage publications on our social networks; PageSense is starting to provide us with relevant information about the behavior of our users on the website; we already use as default office suite Zoho Docs –Which includes the Writer word processor, Sheet spreadsheet and Show presentation software–, although we remain faithful to Keynote to present proposals and do our workshops and conferences, and, for now, to Google Spreadsheets in a few sheets of complex calculations, as we experienced some strange behavior of Zoho Sheet in one of them.

We've also started using Zoho Meetings for virtual meetings, although Appear.in (now called Whereby) we still really like for its simplicity. And Zoho Sprints, which was not in our plans, is being tested to optimize the content generation and publication process.

Zoho One
These are the 26 applications that, among the 42 of Zoho One, we already use or have started testing in Impacto TIC. For daily use, there are already 8.

Paradoxically, we have not yet advanced enough with the 2 priority services for our adoption of Zoho One: Projects and Zoho CRM. In part, because being more complex applications require more effort, and in part because managing projects is not only achieved with the efficient use of a tool, but with a cultural change when doing things, and we still have to advance in the.

The next steps with Zoho One

While ease of use is a common feature of Zoho One apps, we still need to get more out of many of them, starting with Cliq, WorkDrive, and the email itself.

And in our plans is to try others that could be useful to us, such as Backstage –for the management and coverage of ICT Events– and the marketing automation suite MarketingHub.

And most importantly: we will finally move forward with Google CRM and Projects, with which we hope to continue growing and consolidating Impacto TIC as a company.

In these first months, Zoho One has become an ally to try to make that expected business leap and, why not, to optimize our journalistic processes.

Goal accomplished? Not at all: we are just taking our first steps, we have made progress, but we have not taken that expected leap yet: tools don't do everything, and the skills and culture in the team are fundamental, and we still have a lot to learn from all of this.

Somehow, here the vision of Digital Transformation is fulfilled, which is the sum of Technology, Culture and Processes

In the coming months we will share the evolution of our experience with Zoho One. In the meantime, do you want to share with us what you have had in your organizations with this or other platforms? At #ImpactZohoOne, on social networks, we are attentive to talk.