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CRM platforms enable businesses to better understand their customers, but not all market sectors have traditional customers: Nonprofits have volunteers, governmental bodies have constituents and educational institutions have students.
Salesforce.org's Education Cloud takes the classic Salesforce CRM tools and tailors them to higher education users and, more recently, K-12 schools.
University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy uses Salesforce.org's CRM for education to recruit new students, track and facilitate student success, and manage alumni relations.
At the Batten School, Education Cloud replaces a variety of manual processes done across email, spreadsheets and legacy systems. The goal in moving to Salesforce Education Cloud was to simplify and automate day-to-day administrative tasks so faculty and staff could better focus on student success.
"Keeping everybody in the community connected -- that's how we have found ourselves to be successful," said Scott Adams, IT director for the Batten School. "Having a platform like Education Cloud allows us to continue to develop that community and do that more effectively without all the overhead. We are trying to minimize the needless overhead so people can connect with people."
Education Cloud services
Education Cloud is a part of Salesforce.org, which started out as Salesforce's philanthropy arm and now also sells Salesforce products and services specifically designed for educational institutions, as well as nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Salesforce.org gives out the first 10 licenses of its products for free; public institutions, such as the University of Virginia, get a discount as well.
"Education Cloud is a cloud-based CRM solution that spans the student's lifecycle in higher education," said Nathalie Mainland, vice president of higher education solutions and strategy at Salesforce.org. "Once they graduate, we also offer solutions for the advancement department in the area of alumni engagement and fundraising."
The basis of Education Cloud is Salesforce.org's Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), a data model that puts Salesforce's CRM technology in the context of the world of higher education.
"The idea is that, with a decent architecture, you can begin to build [a] view from prospect to current student to alumni and all the engagements that go on there," Adams said.
Another service the Batten School uses is Salesforce Advisor Link, a front-end community for students, enabling them to see all their advisers' schedules and directly book appointments.
"It is all automated, as opposed to the old process of emailing back and forth," Adams said. "We get rid of the busy work, and we are able to focus on the students and provide services for them."
Scott AdamsIT director, University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
The Batten School is also starting to invest more in alumni relations. The school currently uses the Salesforce Education Cloud Advancement tool and eventually will use Marketing Cloud, too, to keep in touch with alumni and use their connections to benefit current students.
"Alumni continue to engage with the university. They offer internship opportunities, and there are alumni that come back and do public speaking for us," Adams said. "It is really important for our current students to have interactions with those who are out there in the political world, the nonprofit world and the private world -- to hear about their experiences and what they are doing."
What's next for Education Cloud?
Education Cloud tools are also available for K-12 schools and are used primarily in private and charter schools. Salesforce.org is currently developing a data architecture specifically for K-12 users -- similar to HEDA -- that would make the Salesforce.org CRM for education services more useful for these schools.
"What we will come out with is more of a unified education data architecture that serves both higher education and K-12," Mainland said. "We are hoping to have that released in late spring of 2019."
The way Adams sees it, however, students are just one-half of the equation.
"Faculty members, like students, are recruited. They have research projects. They are teaching classes. They are doing active, nonsponsored research or sponsored research. They have their own labs. They hire staff," Adams said.
He hopes that, eventually, Salesforce will build a data architecture for faculty as well so the university would have the same view of staff as they do students.
Mainland said there are members of the Salesforce Partner Community that offer faculty community templates based on Salesforce technology and that Salesforce.org will focus on developing something similar this year.
"We are also looking at how can we [use] that kind of CRM in the faculty and staff area," she said.