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"Now we have a huge central database where we’re keeping all of this information and it can be leveraged in ways that help students to be successful, not to mention improvements it brings to analytics and business intelligence" - Chris Wessells, CIO, University of San Diego

Salesforce Mobile Apps Drive University of San Diego Student Engagement and Success

Today’s traditional college students live on their mobile devices—smartphones, tablets, even wearables. University of San Diego research showed those students and prospective students turned away from websites that weren’t optimized for those devices. So almost three years ago, USD kicked off the Mobile First initiative to make its nearly 200 ITS-managed websites mobile responsive, designing the sites to automatically adapt and transform depending on the device being used to view it.

But the initiative didn’t stop at websites. The university also turned to Salesforce for pre-packaged and customizable mobile solutions that collect student data and use that data to help students, alumni and faculty members be more successful. These mobile apps integrate seamlessly with the 15 (and growing) CRM apps USD has also built on the Salesforce platform.
“Mobility is an important element in getting a broad, holistic picture of the modern student and how they want to connect with our institution,” says CIO Chris Wessells.

USD’s mobile apps are built on a Salesforce foundation to feed data back into the
CRM and outward to students. They allow students to track their performance, activities and emotions around their course work—information critical to their success that could, for example, make them aware they’re pursuing the wrong career if they have negative feelings about classes associated with their major. The apps include:

  • Insight, which provides students with important notifications and access to class schedules, due dates, and productivity analytics
  • USD Law app, Insight specifically for law students, faculty and staff
  • mySDMobile app, which can be used to view a GPS-enabled interactive map of the campus, including where classes are located, to call or e-mail faculty and staff, to get information on courses, and to browse through the library catalogs
  • LiftUp to connect with the University Ministry community
  • Torero Spirit to connect alumni, faculty, staff, students, athletes, parents and fans and let them share their school spirit
  • USD MascotCam, which lets users take augmented reality photos with university mascot Diego the Torero
  • Future Torero, which lets applicants stay in touch with USD and log in directly to the MySanDiego Portal

The apps and CRM drive engagement between USD and students, but critical information on student activity outside the classroom was still being missed. A few departments tried to fix this by deploying third-party solutions they found on the internet to track student attendance at events. But those solutions weren’t uniform, didn’t work together—and weren’t cheap. So the university used Salesforce’s secure, simple and powerful platform application programming interfaces to create two unique programs that simplify the process of tracking which activities students are engaged in.

Event Check-in lets administrators check in students at events and collects data on those students to build a database of other events the student might be interested in. More than a dozen USD Kiosks, meanwhile, are located in high-traffic areas to provide a simple way for students to check in or out at events. The kiosk system provides USD custom reports such as who checked in where and when, provides insight into who is using a service, for how long and at what time, and integrates with the CRM and a Gamification system.

The apps empower students and give USD a 360-degree view of the student, allowing
it to advise individuals on opportunities they might be interested in and that could drive their academic success, says Avi Badwal, the university’s Director of Enterprise Technology.

“It’s about a connected campus,” he says. “We knew where they were in the classrooms, but we didn’t really have an aggregated way to know what they were doing outside of the classroom. Now we’re incorporating that aggregated information in meaningful ways.”
Using the CRM and mobile apps together, USD is now better at engaging with its students. A massive amount of new, useful data is made easily accessible for the university and the students.

“Now we have a huge central database where we’re keeping all of this information and it can be leveraged in ways that help students to be successful, not to mention improvements it brings to analytics and business intelligence,” Wessells says.

Download a PDF of the complete University of San Diego Success Story to learn more.

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