Together we Unite – Takeaways from the Unite Partner Summit

Greetings from sunny Lisbon, Portugal! From 28th to 30th June, had its annual summit for partners to bring the ecosystem - Salesforce, SIs, and ISVs - together. Over three days, we discussed important topics like the state of the industry and market, product roadmaps, how to work better together to help our customers and bring value and how to bridge the talent gap and hire more equitably. 

And how the ecosystem has grown! I left Portugal feeling inspired and energized by the community and want to share some insights and takeaways. There were many things to unpack for the NGO customers as well, but I will focus on the Education content in this article.

Personalising the Digital Relationship

One of the things that David Ragones (SVP/GM Nonprofit Cloud) from Salesforce covered had to do with the data management challenge and how that is a fundamental issue facing the industries. There is an incredible drive to personalise digital relationships between organisations and individuals, but on the other hand, many challenges hamper that. We have all run across this dilemma. Siloed data is still an issue in many organisations and makes it difficult to gain insight to personalise. Individuals often have multiple digital identities that are hard to combine. Legacy tools are not scalable or flexible enough to create personalized experiences. The end of cookies gave individuals more privacy but made personalisation much harder. The rapid change in the operating environments makes it difficult to keep up. David named the five Vs of the Enterprise Data Management requirements as Velocity, Variety, Voracity, Volume, and Value.

It is clear that data is the fundamental capability you have to have to personalise digital relationships or personalise education. The tension between privacy and insight will probably continue, and debate and regulation are sure to follow. Whatever technology provider you choose, you should ensure that trust and transparency with data are built into their core. The technology itself should offer robust security options while also the necessary engagement and analytics tools to turn data into insights and actions and better personalised digital experiences. Salesforce provides a pretty good package with their product suite (Shield, Experience Cloud, Tableau, MuleSoft, Marketing Cloud).

Simplifying Salesforce for Education

One of the things already revealed in the virtual Education Summit in April was the introduction of the customer 360 for education. Now I love Salesforce and the flexibility and amount of options the platform offers, but the valid point is that it also can be made to sound overly complicated. One important point made at the summit was that Salesforce needs to simplify its advantage. That is why Salesforce is working to make it easier for education institutions to understand how to leverage the platform advantage of having a very expansive, modular offering to cover customer and institution needs, both small and large. This also makes it easy to start small and grow later as a strategy for a more controlled ramp-up and incremental cost increase while getting faster time-to-value.

The core platform, together with the purpose-built solutions of Education Cloud, forms a powerful toolkit to drive better engagement, better and more personalised experiences, data-driven decision making, and student success. Salesforce offers a powerful solution for areas such as student administration, student support, recruitment & admission, lifelong learning, student engagement, fundraising, research and innovation, and more. From a customer and institution perspective, it can create seamless experiences and value for applicants, students, alumni, teachers, staff, partners, and even more stakeholder groups. With an integration platform like MuleSoft, you can also integrate the platform with the rest of your IT systems to drive data quality, automation, insights, and actions.

Creating more value with the platform

One of the sessions covered the roadmap for the purpose-built solutions for education, which I have covered in a previous blog post here. What caught my eye in Geshri Gunasekera’s (VP Edu Industry & Solution Marketing) insightful talk about the vision forward was her presentation of the four pillars that the roadmap is built on. These are:

  • Agility for New Business Models
  • Proactive and Holistic Support
  • Data Empowered Culture
  • Real-time Collaboration Networks

I agree with all four points. The first point especially is interesting, as it was mentioned that some institutions choose Salesforce precisely because the future is uncertain. They need a technology that will allow them to be flexible and build resilience into their processes and operating models. I have personally heard this same thing from several institutions on why they chose Salesforce, and I feel it is an essential part of the platform advantage. With the introduction of Hyperforce in last year’s Dreamforce, even more flexibility was added. You are not necessarily reliant on running Salesforce on the standard infrastructure but can select any major public cloud provider to deploy your Salesforce on. Salesforce essentially lets the CIO decide where to run the software, easing compliance with data protection and data sovereignty laws. It’s an excellent direction from the point of view of European organisations.

If you are curious and want to know more about Salesforce for education institutions, please get in touch; we are more than happy to share insights and thoughts on how it could be used to create success for your institution and students.

Kari Poutanen

Global Industry Lead, Education

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