April 3, 2018 | Higher Education

    Reflections from the Salesforce Higher Education Summit: The Importance of Being Intentional

    At the SalesForce Higher Education Summit in Washington, D.C., I had the great pleasure of listening to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and legendary aviator, test pilot, and astronaut, USMC Major General Charles Bolden deliver compelling keynotes. These, combined with many excellent presentations and demonstrations by trailblazing colleges and universities, impressed upon me the importance of being intentional in approaching institutional challenges. The term was applied to everything from ­­­­­­­­instilling cultural diversity to driving student success and retention. As I consider how universities implement and adopt technology and new business practices, the phrase “being intentional” very much aligns with the HelioCampus approach to institutional analytics in three specific ways:

    1. Identify up-front the specific questions to be answered and problems to be solved: This approach enables schools to rally resources and focus on critical insights needed that can be catalysts for accelerating time to value. HelioCampus starts every project with a defined agenda that identifies early on the precise questions to be answered based on institutional priorities. We want to avoid the common pitfall of being a solution looking for a problem and flip that script to meet each client at key points of need. An example might be a school with poor admissions yield performance. When beginning to apply advanced analytical analysis to such a problem, the foundation of accelerating time to value is fully understanding the question and intentionally tuning the following data extracts, validation, and analysis toward that question. Understanding that we could easily boil the ocean during an analytics platform implementation, we instead rely on the agenda to drive an agile approach to providing relevant, timely, and actionable insights.   
    2. Get ahead of problems by being well informed ahead of time to inform decision-making: The use of institutional analytics is commonly tied to the often cited “data driven decision making” mantra?, which is an example of intentional analytics. A key part of this intentional strategy to optimize effectiveness would be to pinpoint hot-spots and potential areas of need before they become problems. In this manner, the data driven decisions are those guiding through decision paths that prevent anything from going too far off track.
    3. Line up champions and advocates for the program and assign specific responsibilities and accountability: Those of us who have been engaged in enterprise-wide implementations have heard of those seemingly infinitely long timeframes with extended timelines and changing scope. A common source of this is lack of leadership that is consciously and intentionally engaged to ensure resources are available, timelines agree, and manageable scope is defined at the beginning of the implementation.

     There were a great many sessions more technically oriented or around specific solutions; however, nearly every conversation evolved to discussions around keys to success, cross-departmental teaming, and strong leadership making resources available for implementation success. The bottom line takeaway for me is that it truly takes intentional measures and proactive action to ensure efficient implementation leading to true business value vs. a software installation with no clear outcome or benefit.

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