“The platform is very powerful and intuitive. For the college, that is critically important as our size and scale requires a robust system that can adapt and evolve with our continually evolving needs." - Matt Etchison, Chief Information Officer & Senior Vice President

Ivy Tech Optimizes Enrollment, Retention, and Completion with Salesforce

Eyes on the Future 

Serving nearly 160,000 students at more than 40 locations, Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College is the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Its student body represents a wide range of needs and learning pathways — from 18-year-old dual credit students to mature learners picking up new career skills.

“We’re big on lifelong learning, reskilling and upskilling, and fulfilling the important role that community colleges do nationwide,” said Matt Etchison, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President at Ivy Tech. 

Like many higher education institutions, optimizing student enrollment, retention and completion is among Ivy Tech’s top strategic priorities. However, to meet the needs of today’s learners, Ivy Tech realized that they needed a new approach to student success, one that holistically focuses on personalized and connected experiences. This required better visibility into the learner lifecycle and a powerful constituent relationship management (CRM) platform that could connect large amounts of siloed data from multiple sources. 

Salesforce.org Education Cloud offered a comprehensive solution that helped Ivy Tech achieve its goals of consolidating data, streamlining processes, gaining efficiencies and attaining a single 360-degree view of its constituents, all the way from inquiry and exploration right through to alumni. Their end-to-end implementation of Education Cloud, called Ivy Connect, has improved the experiences and outcomes for learners and has made Ivy Tech a fast and agile leader in the higher education space.

Meeting Students Where They’re At

With an average student age of 27, Ivy Tech’s learners are anything but traditional and meeting the rapidly evolving needs of these learners is at the core of the institution’s mission. 

“Our students lead busy lives, they may be raising children or they might be working two jobs,” said Etchison. “They come to Ivy Tech because they want to take their career to the next level. Our affordable and high-quality, targeted education meets students exactly where they’re at.”

The only way to realize a forward-thinking approach to enrollment, retention and completion for such a diverse student body was to develop a single source of truth. The key was to build a system that could connect and fully leverage Ivy Tech’s data to effectively map the entire student journey and manage relationships at scale, including constituents such as parents, staff, donors and even corporate partners. 

“One of the biggest things for us was consolidation,” said Etchison. “This system wasn’t talking to that system and that sort of disparate, disjointed IT infrastructure just wasn’t working for us. Our goal was to  consolidate and really get that granular view of the student.” 

Using Mulesoft, Ivy Tech connected multiple learner data systems, eliminating data silos and bringing everything down to a single pane of glass—a considerable feat, seeing as Ivy Tech’s IT team supports over a thousand different applications. The migration gave Ivy Tech new capabilities to access, track, assess, and evaluate data points across the student lifecycle with great speed and agility. 

“The platform is very powerful and intuitive,” said Etchison. “For the college, that is critically important as our size and scale requires a robust system that can adapt and evolve with our continually evolving needs.”

Taking advantage of the Salesforce partner ecosystem, Ivy Tech worked with Appirio to get their implementation up and running quickly. Appirio helped Ivy Tech migrate older data and optimize it to enhance student recruitment and admissions. They also helped develop an integrated advising system, a new mobile enrollment checklist and an automated tool for limited enrollment capture.

Rounding out the student experience, Ivy Tech is using Marketing Cloud to supercharge its communications and engage learners on their preferred channels. This includes text message, chatbot and other mobile-friendly channels that students can access on their smartphones.  

Ivy Tech’s future plans include implementing Education Cloud for Advancement and Alumni Relation and launching applications to manage contacts, accounts and events. 

The Power to Move with Speed and Agility

The results achieved with Education Cloud have given Ivy Tech a significant advantage over other institutions in terms of speed, agility and innovation. 

“Ivy Tech has an incredible ability to pivot, with a velocity and cadence that is simply not seen in higher education,” said Etchison. “We have data and insights that I don’t think anyone else is going to have and ultimately that helps us reach our primary goal, which is to serve our students and constituents better.” 

For Ivy Tech’s IT team, success has also been realized in the immediate impacts that have been felt by users across campus. 

Before implementation, student support team members worked with 11 separate systems and screens to get a view of a student and their relationships. That has now been reduced to a single screen with Salesforce, freeing up staff and faculty to be more responsive and dedicate more time to helping students. Individual programs that used to manually process thousands of applications can now automate everything online with Education Cloud. Ivy Tech has also consolidated and streamlined the application process on the front end, moving 14 different external-facing URLs into a single landing page, increasing the ease of use for students and enabling Ivy Tech to track and manage data much more efficiently.

The IT team has also worked to build a culture of data and analytics, establishing multiple centers of excellence at all of their campuses and using Tableau to gain and widely share insights that help enhance learner persistence and completion. 

The data-centric focus and new capabilities, alongside the intuitive and easy-to-use UI and UX, have boosted interest and adoption of Education Cloud not just in the enrollment and recruiting areas but throughout the institution. With the launch of a series of Salesforce training sessions, registration jumped from 180 attendees to 450 within just two weeks.

“The internal enthusiasm and energy around learning the platform was almost triple what we thought it was going to be,” said Etchison. “The product and the experience sold itself to our faculty and staff.”

Etchison added: “You want faculty, staff, and students to feel comfortable and love the software solutions you’re delivering. You want them to be able to use it and do their job easier and better than before. So far, our end users absolutely love it.”Describing the overall value of Salesforce, Etchison concluded: “Higher education is rapidly evolving and changing, and even more so because of the pandemic.  It’s more important than ever to recognize that institutions can’t continue doing what they’ve done for hundreds of years. Salesforce has given us the power to move with speed and agility, and be able to pivot and adjust when needed. And that helps us meet the constantly changing needs of today’s students.”

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