Thursday, August 7, 2008

HIgher Education - Life Cycle of the Student

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest people in the CRM industry and one of the questions many have asked me is regarding CRM for Higher Education. Many institutions today struggle with the management of their current student body as well as maintaining a relationship with alumni. It's a real challenge for many colleges and universities to the extent that many have spent significant funds building applications to address the needs of their student body with less than desirable results.

I recently read an article from destinationCRM and felt compelled to start another blog dedicated to higher education. In the article, "Market Focus: Education -- Making CRM Mandatory for University Administration", written by Christopher Musico he describes the current state of the Higher Education dilemma regarding siloed applications/data and how enterprise CRM applications can change they way Higher Ed manages recruitment, retention and development. To this extent in the article by Christoper Musico, I am in complete agreement with the assessment made by Nicole Engelbert, author of the study "CRM in the Higher Education Market." Her assessment of the market place suggests that currently Higher Education is spending 184.9 million and will spend roughly 324.5 million by 2012 to either bolster existing CRM solutions or purchase completely new CRM solutions.

The challenge that I had in the remainder of the article was a quote by Keith Hontz from SAP who described SaaS solutions as incomplete and "at the end of the day, what they are not getting is complete integration." ? SaaS solutions are more open with web 2.0 and SOA architecture then their predecessor. Integration is the issue with legacy apps, not SaaS and to infer that SaaS solutions are not complete because you cant fully integrate is completely off base.

As many of you know I have been working in this space for several years and have a deep understanding of integration, SaaS and Cloud Computing. The power of SaaS is applications like Studentforce.com that are complete CRM solutions built to meed the needs of higher education. Integration with existing legacy apps can be handled at the API level or through proven integration tools like Pervasive. The real challenge is understanding the current environment and how to blueprint a solution to solve the integration issues with siloed applications and the disparate data.

If you haven't heard much about Studentforce, I would take a look at what was developed for higher education leveraging the Salesforce.com platform. It is another example of CRM made easy for large complex challenges in the Higher Education Market place. We are seeing more and more universities developing CRM strategies and incorporating SaaS solutions to improve visibility to the Student Life Cycle. It's my goal to help readers understand the technology available today and continue to create solutions for customers to support their business needs as technology and business evolves around them.

For more information on the Blueprint process, go to http://www.bluewolf.com.

5 comments:

Doug said...

Lonnie,
Good stuff. Like all larger organizations, Higher Education isn’t any different than companies who had to either build their own systems or highly customize what was available over the last 25+ years. The challenge we continue to see is that the underlying Integration while “easier” to discover and connect to has evolved with WEB 2.0, the challenge is that it still falls on the end user shoulders to get the data from existing systems to new systems. Regardless of SaaS or On-premise apps, as long as there are multiple sources of data the true one view of the customer will always be Holy Grail of all CRM’s. As you point out, some folks are further along on the quest.

falseflag said...

Lonnie, wonderful elucidation...but what about security?

SaaS opens up even more avenues of obscufication and potential false-flags...e.g., the recent article that described how a user unknowingly d/'ld the mail for 7 other colleagues on the network.

The tech. is not as mature as more traditional offerings...does this mean we should hold it to the same level of trust?

It's all too easy to mistake a misconfiguration or other issue as an attack -- based on your experiences, how will SaaS address these issues?

LW said...

obscufication and false flags...

Great questions around security on the internet. What is really secure today on the internet or really your own desktop, between email threats to bot attacks against vulnerably PC's, is anything really safe?

"False flag" operation - definition from Wikipedia: "False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension."

Having done extensive work for the Department of Defense around internet security, there will always be the possibility of creating false flags. A recent email spam under the banner of CNN is a great example of a False Flag with a subject of "How McCain beats Obama in the primaries" click on this link to see the full story... and the link is a Trojan.

As SaaS companies evolve solutions they will need to evolve their security model. To your question, will SaaS address this issue, I think Salesforce.com is a great example of how they have evolved their security to meet the current issues of false-flagging and other security threats.

So is traditional client server computing really more secure than SaaS? To your point, misconfiguration of a server or a firewall can be a devastating mistake and we still face the challenge of the oldest application that everyone uses today, email and it is probably the most unsecure application in the universe.

SaaS apps like SFDC require IP authentication, token security validation and email validation as entry points into their system. Traditional applications really have no security, login authentication with limited rules for authentication, the IT organization is left with building a secure environment around the traditional application. Another hidden cost in the client server architecture, securing the application.

Interesting question, at the end of the day it comes down to the user, their understanding of what they are doing on or off the internet and the evolution of security to protect private data and systems.

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Kristopher Krost said...

Thanks for sharing , this is prefect for me because I am trying to find more sources to get inspired.I appreciate you taking the time to make this for me.
crm for higher education
student enrollment software.