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A More Connected Campus: Why IU Chose Salesforce

By March 20, 2018

By: Cathy O’Bryan, Associate Vice President, Client Services and Support, University Information Technology Services, Indiana University

The Challenge of Data Silos in Higher Ed

With over 1.5 million members of the IU community, Indiana University needed to efficiently and effectively solve our data silo challenges. Data silos — having information about students in dozens of different, disconnected databases and spreadsheets, for example — weren’t working well for IU at an institutional level. Constituents (recruitment prospects, students, parents, graduates, or anyone who has a relationship with IU) were frustrated that they had to provide the same information multiple times to different people. Theirs was not a seamless experience.

Salesforce for higher ed: Indiana University, in this photo, shares details on how they went from data silos to a Connected Campus.

Having disjointed constituent relationship management (CRM) data was also an expensive problem for IU, as it weighed on services and created missed opportunities. Multiple CRM silos not only provided a fragmented picture of the IU community, but resulted in staff duplicating their efforts, such as data entry. And there was no single system to consistently provide students, or any constituent, with personalized communication.

Fortunately, IU had the vision to take action on an institutional level, selecting Salesforce to provide a robust solution for the diverse needs of the university’s 110,000 students, 9 campuses, and large constituent population. Various departments, campuses, and stakeholders supported this selection. Going institution-wide with Salesforce products was designed to bring the benefits of consolidated data for students, all the way from lead, to prospect, to student and finally, graduate.

Indiana University uses Salesforce for recruiting, admissions, marketing, communications, graduate schools and HR case management. Image of student with computer. There was great institutional momentum prior to that decision. Over the last two and a half years, key stakeholder groups and sponsors including admissions, communications & marketing, and human resources embraced Salesforce as the solution for their strategic goals. IU HR is using Salesforce CRM for all employee requests across the institution. Over 400 separate instances of email-blast tools have been replaced across IU with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. All undergraduate students at IUPUI and all six regional campuses for this year were recruited using IU’s CRM.

Salesforce for Higher Ed: Use Cases

IU’s CRM team has already implemented Salesforce in several areas, with much success:

  • Undergraduate Recruitment/Admissions. The CRM platform currently tracks approximately 430,000 historic and active undergraduate recruiting funnels across IUPUI and IU’s regional campuses. Many campuses have adopted much more functionality in Salesforce—individual interactions, admissions events, web forms, print documents, and communication campaigns—than they did with IU’s legacy CRM, and in only nine months. Recruitment management for 2018 now captures all potential suspects, prospects, and applicants with viewable and actionable interaction records.
  • Communication/Marketing. More than 200 units use the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to manage communications and campaigns across their various constituencies. These users have leveraged 52 million email sends, 2,700 structured campaigns, and 13 million campaign members to effectively communicate IU’s vision around the world. Interactions are also recorded on individual IU constituent records for future knowledge and nurturing. This is a small foundational start to using Salesforce system-wide at IU, consolidating more than 400+ instances of mass email distribution services.
  • HR Case Management. IU HR uses Salesforce for all customer service requests — as part of the HR2020 strategic plan to be nimble and adapt to the changing needs of the institution — with available, cross-trained HR staff who can provide consistent answers every time. IU’s HR staff use Salesforce for the management of all employee case records and associated service requests. The HR implementation also includes coordination of the HR centers of expertise and the main HR Customer Care Center, along with email templates, service desk consoles, reporting, dashboards, and analytics.
  • Graduate School Adoption. Through careful implementation planning and word-of-mouth, several graduate schools have also adopted the basic recruitment/admissions package (see the undergrad section above). This adoption was entirely organic: no special funds, resources, or marketing involved.

What’s Next?

One reason why we chose Salesforce for IU CRM is because it’s powerful, flexible, and can scale to our needs. For example, we anticipate that adding SMS messages as a communication option will be popular with students, who prefer more immediate channels like text messaging to email.

We’re also focusing on laying a solid foundation toward a 360-degree view of our constituents. This will ultimately yield an institution-wide CRM that enables a personalized constituent experience across the university. We’re excited about becoming a connected Institution.

Advice on How to Choose a CRM for Higher Education

Many higher education campuses and institutions have a multitude of disconnected CRMs, or data silos. The longer an institution’s silos exist, the more difficult it will be to consolidate the data into one system that can provide a full view across the lifetime of its constituents.

Consider what outcomes are most important to the common good. Take the long view as your leads, today, will eventually become employers, corporate sponsors, future graduate students, or donors, tomorrow. The IU community is broad, diverse, and expects excellence. Can multiple CRMs — each an isolated data silo — really provide the level of service and personalized communication constituents have come to expect in the age of the smartphone?

If you do not initially have a strategic charge, look for the places where a CRM can be established to solve a critical need, and then eventually develop an enterprise charge. Look for existing strategic plans that have aspects that a CRM can facilitate and serve those missions through the CRM tool. Remember that a tool alone will not create change. It takes vision, people, and leadership driven by a key institutional strategic goal, along with committed partners, to achieve success. The CRM journey is just that, so be sure to prepare for the long run.

I hope this advice is helpful!

If you want to chat more, I’ll be at Higher Ed Summit with in Washington, D.C. this March.

About the Author

As AVP for Client Services and Support, Cathy O’Bryan leads university-wide initiatives that ensure IU faculty, staff, and students have clear access to, and ongoing support for, the tech that empowers their productivity. From enterprise software contracts to mobile device management, O’Bryan believes IT at IU should be ever-present, well supported, and easy to use. And she knows that the highest-quality, most successful services come from ongoing dialogue between UITS and constituencies across IU.

O’Bryan heads the 1IUIT leadership council, oversees UITS liaisons to 107 campus IT units, and co-leads IT directors at the School Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Engineering and Technology, and the Vice President of Research’s Office. She is a member of the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Core Data Survey committee and an appointed board member of IU’s Center of Excellence for Women in Technology. O’Bryan previously served as director of UITS Client Support, including the award-winning Support Center for all of IU. She came to IU after 13 years at the University of Wisconsin, before joining IU six wonderful years ago!

Further Reading

As you’re considering CRM resources for your campus, you may want to check out this whitepaper with Ovum, this practical guide and this piece on Campus-Wide CRMs.