unboxedbusiness.com represents the view that business should not be boxed in by applications or their vendors. Business applications should enable your business to keep up with the flow of transactions as generated as part of the customer journey.
The opposite of unboxedbusiness.com is a business that has boxes introduced around the transactions in the customer journey - basically roadblocks as experienced by your customer. Think of it this way: whenever you have to move data from one application to the next, you have three options.
Option 1 - manually when the need arises. Your customer is on the other end of the line, and you have to enter the details into the support system while the customer waits. Not a great experience.
Option 2 - create a custom integration between two systems. This may be via an integration service like Zapier or Flow, or a file export/import functionality. The challenge is that you have to create those integrations first, and then maintain them when one of the systems is updated or upgraded. In other words, there is a cost to it. Even in a simple file export/import functionality, you have to first create the export rules, then transform the data into a format which can be interpreted by the receiving application (including the correct data-model), and manually set up the integration. Typically this is a one-way integration as well (you can only update the records in one system, and then move them to another).
Option 3 - While a fully integrated suite sounds like the way to go, it is for 90% of all businesses not an option due to cost and complexity. However, there is an alternative where the simplicity of the individual application is retained, PLUS the benefit of having a vendor built and supported integration available, free of charge. All you need to do is enable the second or third application, and set the connection token (a two minute job), and the two applications are working together.
Who is Zoho?
Zoho has been around for over 20 years, and has been a true cloud software pioneer. Before Google launched Google Apps, before Microsoft launched the Office 365 suite online, Zoho had a cloud based productivity suite available to the public - in 2005, almost a decade and half of experience with cloud based productivity. The Zoho suite of applications keeps growing, now more than 40 applications for you to choose from. And while they are significantly better priced than the competition, they do not lack in features or stability - you can compare Zoho CRM with the market leaders, and you'll be questioning the value proposition offered by those market leaders - similar or better functionality for a significantly reduced monthly fee.
Zoho is represented globally, with offices at strategic places around the globe. The main locations are USA (Pleasanton California and Austin Texas), India (with a major development centre in Chennai), Japan, China, Singapore, The Netherlands, and United Arab Emirates. In other areas, such as France, Australia, UK, etc, Zoho has a local representation.
What makes Zoho Different?
That Zoho is different is immediately apparent when you transact with them or use their applications. The prices are lower, the support is excellent, and the staff seems to be enjoying their work. You might ask, "how?" - and you'd be right to do so. How can a company deliver software at these prices, and still offer support above the general market trend? And how can they do this for so many years in a row? Zoho is not like the hyped-up internet sensation companies that for years have made loss after loss, yet they are chasing users for market valuation and eventual initial public offering (IPO) - Zoho is privately owned, no shareholders, no outside investors to satisfy - it is simply about doing the right thing for the customers and the employees.
Compared to the other business application vendors, Zoho is organised with very short lines to the most senior echelon's of the business. It is also a comparatively lean organisation - approx. 7,000 employees globally is not small, but compared to the 80,000 or 120,000 employees of some of the competitors, you can imagine that the communication at Zoho is smoother, quicker, and clearer. Plus, all that savings on overhead can be directly transferred to you, the customer.
What are the products provided?
There is a substantial list of applications provided by Zoho. As of this writing , we are at just over 40 cloud applications you can access via the web, with equal number of native iOS an Android mobile experience applications. Most applications come in a number of different plans, allowing you to tailor your subscription to your needs (and budget) - some applications even start with a "forever free" plan - no ads, no payments.
For your convenience, I have created a list of applications and their primary objective here.
Bundle or separate?
Zoho products are available individually, or as a bundle - whatever suits your needs. Typically when you find that members of a team use two or more applications in a bundle - the bundle is very competitively priced. Bundles consist of a set of complementary software aimed at a specific part of the business. There are three bundles which roll-up into the master bundle Zoho One - and a separate IT Management bundle aimed at larger organisations
The three bundles that roll up to Zoho One are: Zoho CRM Plus, for end-to-end customer life-cycle management, covering all customer interactions from social and email campaigns, website engagement, CRM, support desk, and project delivery management, topped of with a powerful analytics suite.
Zoho Finance Plus covers accounting, expense management, inventory management, and membership/subscription management.
Zoho Workplace is a bundle that puts all the business productivity (documents, spreadsheets, presentations, online meetings, corporate messaging, and intranet) under one single roof, to create, collaborate, and communicate.
Finally, there is Zoho One, the master bundle. This contains all applications from Zoho (other than the IT Management bundle) under one simple to understand licence model. The easiest model is the All Employees Licence - when your business is ready to expand, you do not need to worry about what applications to licence - they are automatically licensed within the per employee per month structure - all you have to do is assign what applications are relevant, and what privileges the user has within these applications.
The philosophy behind Aurelian Group
Aurelian Group is named after Marcus Aurelius (adoptive name Aurelian), considered as the last of the five good emperors of Rome. Marcus Aurelius is known for his meditations (you can get it on Amazon), a collection of stoic philosophies to help make sense of the world. Marcus Aurelius was also an effective and pragmatic emperor, leading the Roman empire to its pinnacle within its existence.
(You can read more about Aurelian Group here: www.aurelian-group.com/about)
Aurelian Group is formed out of a passion for small business. Too many business application vendors and partners focus on the "enterprise" or large businesses - and they charge significant funds for both software and implementation. The segment most overlooked and at the same time most important to the economy, is the small and midsize business. Typically, for these businesses, a comprehensive application strategy is unaffordable, but with Zoho One, and the method of implementation by Aurelian Group, this is all within reach of any business.
Where does Aurelian Group operate?
Aurelian Group is based in Sydney, Australia. But due to the nature of cloud software, and our implementation methods where we teach our clients to set up the software and become self sufficient - where we make use of conferencing, screen-sharing, and video instructions - we can basically serve customers from any part of the globe.
Why would I deal with Aurelian Group?
We believe in choice, and we believe in keeping things simple. Choice - if you choose Zoho, and you subscribe via Aurelian Group, we would like you to remain in complete control. You pay the subscription directly to Zoho, without Aurelian Group being in the "middle". The price is exactly the same as if you subscribed from Zoho directly. However, if you do subscribe to Aurelian Group, you get access to our support system - for the first two years that is free of charge - and we can set you up for remote implementation project - tailored to your business - which is significantly more cost effective than the traditional implementation. The payments are reasonable and are done via credit card - so no hassle with international transfers.