5 Key Salesforce Trends for Higher Education

Mary Beth Cahill |

Former Analyst

Top of Mind: 5 Key Salesforce Trends for Higher Education
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Salesforce held its 10th annual Education Summit in mid-April 2022. While the event was virtual for the third consecutive year, it was packed with exciting innovations specifically designed for higher education. The Education Cloud, the heart of the Salesforce platform, is the foundation for these innovations, including purpose-built development and solutions—many of which leverage recently acquired products Slack and Tableau. Much of this new functionality is embedded in standard Salesforce applications that institutions already have.

Thematically, Salesforce has five main categories of Education Cloud innovations. This blog lists some of Tambellini’s favorite takeaways from the 2022 Salesforce Education Summit.

Seamless Student Experience

Salesforce’s seamless student experience has been core in supporting a personalized user experience from recruitment to graduation. Higher education-specific applications that facilitate the seamless student experience include Salesforce Admissions Connect and the Salesforce Student Success Hub. Innovations in this category include the following:

  • Application Form Builder with Conditional Logic: Salesforce is delivering new functionality to build online forms using “clicks not code” with conditional logic that can be used to collect actionable data. Forms can be custom branded and deployed across multiple channels.
  • Applicant Portal Accelerator: Salesforce is delivering new applicant portal functionality that augments Admissions Connect by providing an out-of-the-box community to help applicants with the application process, including application submission, management, and tracking. This enhancement is scheduled for summer 2022.
  • Admissions Connect Enhancements: In 2022, Salesforce has plans to deliver improvements in admissions accuracy and processing, including a GPA conversion utility, test score entry, and automatic admit capability.

Institutional Effectiveness

One of Salesforce’s key focus areas is to provide higher education leaders with insights, actionable data, and analytics that can facilitate decision making. As part of this strategy, Salesforce is leveraging its Tableau Higher Ed Edition and advancement solutions, such as Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack and Gift Entry Manager. This strategy is focused on providing campus decision makers with the data that they need to improve all aspects of the institution, including learning, planning, revenue streams, fundraising, and more.

Innovations in this category include the following:

  • Tableau Accelerators: Salesforce Tableau Accelerators are prebuilt leadership dashboards that provide configurable leadership metrics and optionally embedded conditional logic. Some institutions are already using these accelerators to drive strategic alignment for DEI efforts, evaluating admission yields, and tracking trends in program enrollment and degrees earned.
  • Net Zero Cloud: This new application is designed to help institutions track carbon emissions on campus. It leverages Slack to collect actionable insights and Tableau for reporting, what-if analysis, and forecasting. It is already being used at several institutions.

Modern Engagement

Salesforce is leveraging its existing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to deliver functional chatbots, starting with financial aid and student success. It is also using these capabilities to augment Slack and other Salesforce applications. Salesforce is leveraging existing capabilities and investments already in Salesforce (Marketing Journeys and Einstein Bots) and is augmented with tools such as Slack, which facilitates conversational design and engagement. Innovations in this category include the following:

  • Financial Aid Chatbot: Salesforce now bundles the Financial Aid Chatbot template with Service Cloud and is publishing intents and utterances for the chatbots. Salesforce is also publishing a best practices guide for building and deploying chatbots.
  • Student Success Chatbot: The Student Success Chatbot comes free of charge with Salesforce Service Cloud and is prebuilt for the Student Success Hub.
  • Student Success Alerts: Student Success Alerts come preinstalled with the Salesforce Student Success Hub and leverage Slack to enhance faculty and advisor collaboration. Using Student Success Alerts, institutions can capture critical instructor input and feedback for advisors. While many faculty are already using Slack for organizational collaboration and learning, Student Success Alerts provide an intuitive way to send and track alerts to advising caseloads. Students can also report IT or financial aid issues in the Service Cloud, creating a case and allowing multiple participants (faculty and advisors) to work on that case.

Simplifying Salesforce

Salesforce has an initiative to make all aspects of its solutions easier, ranging from purchasing to administering to using it. Key concepts include the simplification and acceleration of implementing, building, and integrating Salesforce applications. This category contains two major innovations:

  • Data Mover: This new and free utility facilitates flat-file data ingestion into Salesforce with reusable mappings. The Data Mover includes functionality to identify, review, and prevent data duplication during batch imports. Batch jobs can also be scheduled and managed, and the results can be viewed.
  • In-App Guidance and Guidance Center: The Salesforce Guidance Center offers users personalized recommendations (based on a brief questionnaire) to videos, training modules, help articles, and other learning resources to facilitate implementation, configuration, administration, and learning. In-App Guidance provides application-specific insights about implementation recommendations and use case scenarios.

Education to Employment

Salesforce has a keen focus on standards alignment around its Education Data Architecture (EDA), specifically regarding portable learner records and credentials. We can anticipate that this will be a key area of investment and growth for the company, as many institutions are experimenting with pilots around this concept. In this same area, Salesforce is looking to extend and accelerate pathways to career success and lifelong learning, as institutions seek new revenue streams in areas such as continuing education and executive education.

  • Lifelong Learning: Salesforce’s Lifelong Learning is an evolving suite that anchors on the Commerce Cloud and can leverage Experience Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Marketing Cloud. Lifelong Learning offers a consumer-like experience that can surface relevant courses and programs with intuitive registration, personalized marketing and prospecting engagement, tracking and managing corporate partnerships, and accessing real-time data to identify trends and measure program performance.

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Mary Beth Cahill |
Former Analyst
As a former senior analyst for Tambellini Group, Mary Beth Cahill focused her research on CRM and advancement initiatives. She has led numerous research efforts, specifically in vendor administrative systems and student information systems (SIS) software solutions, data and learning analytics, CRM, learning management, and social networking. Mary Beth was also the co-author of several published industry reports, including Tambellini Group's "Upgrade or Replace" and "Vendor Review" series of reports.

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