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10 Big Takeaways You Can Expect from Salesforce’s Higher Ed Summit

By May 7, 2014

Rebecca JoffreyBy: Rebecca Joffrey, Director of Interactive Services, Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Cross posted on

You could call me a Salesforce veteran, if there is such a thing. In my roles in Career Development (Dartmouth College) and Student Services (Cornell University), I have attended Dreamforce three times, Cloudforce once, Higher Education Summit, two small and informal higher education gatherings, and the Salesforce1 World Tour once (last month in Boston). I’m not exactly sure when my job title changed to ‘tech guru’ but, no doubt about it, I am driving technology decisions within my institution.

And, if you’re reading this blog, so are you. The Higher Education Summit was designed to help people like us succeed — administrators who are responsible for the experience of students or alumni or corporate partners or faculty — who need to figure out the new landscape of customer engagement and find ways to make the process of engagement simpler, more social, and more effective.

Here are ten very tangible takeaways you can expect if you attend the Higher Education Summit 2014:

1. Clarity

What is CRM? What is the Salesforce1 Platform? What is "social listening"? How do these things fit with social and big data and backoffice apps like PeopleSoft, Advance, and Banner, and tools like Drupal? Half the battle of this new era in higher ed is knowing how to explain what it is you are doing to people who may not understand the concepts.

2. Experts

At this year’s Summit, you will meet Salesforce experts, vendors, and fellow customers who are three steps ahead of you on exactly the same path. It’s a chance to ask your questions and go home with answers. Access to experts was the single greatest takeaway of my first Salesforce event. Suddenly I knew who I could call when I was stuck.

3. Best Practices

The breakout sessions at this year’s Higher Education Summit are designed to show you what other schools are doing in the areas of admissions, alumni services, student success, student services, advancement, marketing, and communications, and IT. You’ll walk away with a fresh perspective on what this technology can do for your institution along with a specific understanding of how to move forward. 

4. Collaborators

At last year’s event, I found three other schools dealing with the same issues I am. I speak with them at least once a month and we are coming up with solutions together. These people are as much a part of my "team" as my own colleagues at Cornell.

5. Ideas

Did you know that you can use a Salesforce application called ExactTarget to put a so-called "fence" around a building and if someone walks into that area, you can trigger a text message to them? I found that out last month at the Salesforce1 World Tour. I’m thinking of using it with transfer students – when they walk by the office of student services, the text could say, “This is the Student Services building. I hope you’ll drop in so we can meet you.” It’s my job to reinvent the student experience and I’ll embrace any opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest.  

6. Mistakes to Avoid

I’ll also embrace any opportunity to avoid heading in the wrong direction. Salesforce is a powerful platform but implementing it right can be tricky. You’ll hear all about lessons learned at this conference (because we all have them).

7. Apps

Speaking of lessons learned, I just found out that something I’m building is available in an app on the Salesforce AppExchange. At this year’s Summit, there’s a session that examines how you can use two popular apps, Jitterbit and FormAssembly.

8. Job Descriptions

One of the challenges of Salesforce is very few of us have “CRM” in our job descriptions. We are all discovering the need to re-write our responsibilities, maybe even to create new roles in our organizations. I am sure this will be a topic of discussion amongst attendees.

9. Partner Insights and Recommendations

Chances are high you are looking for an ISV partner to help with your implementation. Some of these partners will be at the Summit. And other schools can share experiences with their vendors, and which are best for which needs. 

10. Inspiration

The people and companies at this conference are innovators in every area of their business and life. When you look back at your conference notes, you’ll find more than just technology ideas. You’ll find new language and inspiration for executing change, ideas for how to run better events, slides to explain complex ideas. 

About the author

Rebecca Joffrey is Director of Interactive Services at Cornell University and is responsible for re-defining the way that students engage with alumni, faculty, staff, and peers in both physical and online spaces. Prior to this role, she was Director of the Career Development Office at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth where she led one of the first university implementations of Chatter for students. You can follow Rebecca on Twitter, “Living in the Feed” @RebeccaJoffrey.

Join us for the Higher Education Summit 2014 on June 5th and 6th.

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