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How to Innovate for the Future of Higher Education

By June 13, 2022

Innovating for the future of higher education — sounds exciting, but you might be asking why now? And, more importantly, how? As former employees of the education sector, we’d say these are valid questions, and we want to help answer them!

According to the second edition of the Connected Student Report, 45% of staff say their institution is implementing new business models because of the pandemic and the economic times they are operating in. They also said that learner and institution success requires innovation. Furthermore, in the early findings of what will be our third edition of the report (coming later this year), leaders talked about a “future-ready university.” A future-ready university is described as one that’s “open-minded, embraces innovation, offers a flexible system of engagement, and takes practical steps to weave diversity, equity, and inclusion through the fabric of the institution.”

The time for innovation is now. Based on our research and product development, here are some ideas and examples of how to innovate for the future of higher education.

1. Do Your Best Work with Automation

Automation can be applied right at the beginning of the student lifecycle. With Admissions Connect, institutions can streamline the admissions experience for both applicants and staff. With the Application Form Builder, admissions teams can now easily build customized, branded applications with clicks, not code. Because the forms are built using the power of the Salesforce platform, institutions can automate importing existing applicant data, such as education history, directly into the application.

Screenshot of a student success alert demo
With Student Success Alerts powered by Slack, faculty and staff can more efficiently support students and streamline communication between faculty and student-support staff in today’s education-from-anywhere world.

2. Create Efficiencies and Increase Productivity

Institutions globally are already using Slack to improve engagement and collaboration in real time or asynchronously. Now, with Student Success Alerts powered by Slack, faculty and staff can more efficiently support students and streamline communication between faculty and student support staff in today’s education-from-anywhere world.

For example, faculty can quickly raise alerts about at-risk students from an easy-to-use Slack app that feeds directly into Student Success Hub, streamlining communication between frontline faculty and instructors. These efficiencies allow faculty and student support staff to be more productive — spending less time in systems, and more time with students.

3. Be Inspired by Customers Innovating for the Future

With Customer 360 for Education, ASU is creating lifelong student relationships from prospective students to engaged alumni. The university is putting their customers at the center of the ASU experience with flexible learning options across campus, online, or via a hybrid approach.

“A big part of what makes ASU innovative is its commitment to, and energy for, scale and growth. Among a suite of tools, a platform like Salesforce supports that ambition,” said Lev Gonick, chief information officer at ASU. “We contextualize innovation and apply it to purpose — a lot of the work we’ve done with Salesforce is informed by joining technology, innovation and student success.”

People sitting in a group talking

Recognizing that many prospective students are balancing careers in addition to returning to school, INSEAD needed to deliver a hyper-personalized recruitment experience for its more than 20,000 executives globally. INSEAD also uses Customer 360 for Education to manage its entire recruitment experience from one unified platform.

“As hybrid learning becomes the norm, personal connections are as crucial in executive education as they are in the workplace,” said Séverine Guilloux, executive director of Open Programmes and Online Learning Innovation at INSEAD. “With Customer 360 for Education, we can deliver connected learning journeys with a personal touch and create long-lasting relationships with our participants and community of students.”

Learn more about how our education leaders across the globe are innovating and transforming into a future-ready institution by checking out our Education Summit Event Resources, and attend the upcoming Summer ‘22 Release Highlights webinar on June 16th! You can also check out our new Future-Ready Playbook to learn how institutions can adapt with new business models and student experiences.

About the Authors

Ben Rhodes headshotBen Rhodes is a senior product marketing manager at where he focuses on elevating recruitment and admissions and the student experience. Before joining Salesforce, Ben led internal communications at Columbia Business School.
Navneet Johal headshotNavneet Johal is the director of industry marketing for higher education at Prior to joining Salesforce, Navneet was a solution director for higher education and research at SAP, and a senior analyst at Ovum, where she led research on the use of technology in higher education. Navneet’s passion for education and technology began when she was teaching in the further education sector in the U.K. for several years before moving to the U.S.