Today’s students are on a journey. To them, it’s about more than a degree; it’s about a holistic experience that is as tailored to them as their Netflix account and prepares them for the new realities of the ever-changing, automated workplace.

Now, more than ever, the student is in control. They’re looking for a learning experience upon which they can build their lifelong journey, and a community of support to help them chart their path into the future.

Data silos: A common challenge in higher ed

Students expect a personalized experience. At many schools, however, different departments have different constituent relationship management systems (CRMs) based on units or schools. That leads to disjointed outcomes and costs. And, the longer your silos exist, the more difficult it will be to consolidate the data from those siloed CRMs into one solution that can provide a full view across the lifetime of your constituents—not just while they’re students.

At Indiana University (IU), we used to have this issue. If you’re like we were, you may be dealing with a bunch of siloed CRMs. We decided to change from treating a CRM as a small unit-based system to an enterprise system, similar to human resources (HR) or finance. This enables strategic outcomes and a more efficient cost model.

7 considerations when choosing your CRM tool

From a purely student perspective, IU’s various units and schools each had separate interactions and information. Students essentially had to start by repeating details that have already been logged, just by someone else, somewhere else.

Where we were: The cost of the status quo

With our previous data silos, we lost opportunities to provide personalized communications. For recruitment, this was not preferable, nor did it use our staff time well. The old, disjointed, inefficient model undermined our focus on providing excellent student services and support.

At IU, many units and/or schools had already selected Salesforce.org for their solution. While that led to 16 separate instances across the university, it confirmed that Salesforce.org was the right platform to scale across the breadth and diversity of our constituencies, which included:

  • Undergraduate recruitment/admissions, tracking approximately 430,000 current and historic prospects
  • Communication/marketing with marketing cloud
  • HR case management
  • Graduate school recruiting & admissions

(Next page: 7 tips for choosing your college’s CRM tool)

About the Author:

Cathy O’Bryan is associate vice president, client services and support, for Indiana University’s Information Technology Services department.


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