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Salesforce.org Education Cloud updates enhance student engagement

New Salesforce.org Education Cloud features assist with degree planning, setting up adviser appointments and getting a more well-rounded view of students.

Students will be able to better engage with school staff and track their college coursework with the help of some new features in Salesforce.org Education Cloud.

These features can help students and staff get a better view of the student journey throughout the college lifecycle without having to use external systems and help better connect K-12 schools in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Higher education is an industry that lags in terms of digital transformation, said Joyce Kim, a higher education analyst at Ovum. But Salesforce's foundation in the enterprise has a lot of applicability to the higher-education model.

"Student retention and completion are really important targets for institutions but having the right data and insights that will help a school achieve those goals is a challenge," Kim said.

Enriching the student journey

A feature that could have a widespread effect is Salesforce Advisor Link Pathways, which assists in degree planning and helps keep students on track to graduate.

Currently, staff and students in the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) use a third-party system called DegreeWorks to aid with degree planning. Students currently have access to Salesforce, but they can only see members of their success team and alerts from faculty -- such as a student failed a test, and tasks such as applying for a summer internship, resume review and updating a LinkedIn profile. The Pathways feature can bring degree planning right into the Salesforce system, eliminating the need for a third-party app.

"The big thing for staff and students is being able to have everyone integrated onto one system, and be able to take action in real time," said Karrie Mitchell, vice president of planning for the SMCCCD. "There are so many different systems that are siloed, and Education Cloud brings it all together."

Student retention and completion are really important targets for institutions but having the right data and insights that will help a school achieve those goals is a challenge.
Joyce KimHigher education analyst, Ovum

Many students take extra credits and extra student loan debt that don't add up to a degree, and this will help advisers proactively manage and support students to make it to their graduation goal, said Nathalie Mainland, senior vice president and general manager of Education Cloud at Salesforce.org. Salesforce.com acquired Salesforce.org in April 2019 at a price of $300 million.

Another feature that could be beneficial to SMCCCD is the Einstein Analytics template for recruitment and admissions, using the Education Data Architecture as a foundation. These templates may help admission staff find trends in each year's class, including demographics, areas of study and who's taking what classes -- and prevent the need to manually input information into the system, Mitchell said.

"This gives you a 360-degree view of the student, and that's critical for us," said Daman Grewal, CTO at SMCCCD.

Other new features

Also, in the Education Data Architecture, Salesforce is adding application and test score objects, making it easier to bring in data for the recruiting and admission process, such as application data and test scores. Previously, schools were doing custom builds, and now there will be a standardized way to bring this data into the system, Mainland said.

Other new Salesforce Advisor Link features include queue management -- the No. 1 most requested feature from customers -- and Salesforce Advisor Link for onboarding and pre-advising. Queue management will enable students to proactively make an appointment with their advisers, and the onboarding and pre-advising feature help catch students that received offer letters to be sure they accept and show up on campus.

And while K-12 institutions already have been using Salesforce.org Education Cloud, there is now a K-12 architecture kit. This will accelerate schools' ability to use Education Cloud and Salesforce technology, and users will no longer have to customize it themselves, Mainland said.

While Oracle, Ellucian, Jenzabar and Campus management are all competing vendors with end-to-end CRM suites, Salesforce is positioned competitively in the higher-education CRM market, Kim said.

"Because of its user-friendly interface and ability to use emerging technologies for things like predictive analytics and automating processes, end users find their products are intuitive and effective," she said.  

Salesforce plans to dig into this Education Cloud news during Dreamforce, which takes place Nov. 19 to 22 in San Francisco, Mainland said.

The Education Data Architecture and K-12 architecture kits are both free, open source and available to both Salesforce and non-Salesforce users. They will be available on AppExchange and GitHub.

The Education Data Architecture features will be available in January. Everything else will be available by Nov. 18.

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