The collection and use of data is becoming increasingly more critical in higher education. Marketing and admissions teams don’t just utilize it—they rely on it. And, with the availability of technology that does the tough data analysis work for them, recruiting teams can inform their strategy more effectively than ever before.
The proliferation of data in higher education, while generally a positive trend, also holds its challenges—especially for information technology teams. More and more, university IT teams are expected to support recruiting efforts with well-analyzed data, but often without the resources to do so. SevOne’s 2018 whitepaper “5 Top IT Challenges in Higher Education” highlights this as a key issue, claiming that IT teams need “better data management tools.”
One of these tools, according to Ann Parambil, Associate Director of CRM Systems at American University, is CRM software. A well-designed CRM helps organize and analyze collected data, she says, allowing her to make well-informed recruiting recommendations.
“CRM software helps us better understand what the data means,” Parambil says, “so we can adjust the way we do business.”
Parambil notes the ability to identify and analyze trends is what’s most useful. The software displays data like applicants’ GPAs, personal interests and finances in one clean view, giving her an in-depth understanding of each prospect. It allows her to identify data patterns over time, like a consistent interest or concern, and respond accordingly.
“When you review data, you can’t just look at one piece—you have to look across. CRM software shows us the full picture,” Parambil says.
CRM also allows her to identify trends within the sales funnel. Parambil and her team can easily track how much time it takes for an inquiry to become an applicant—and when inquiries disappear altogether. She can then study prospects with longer application timelines, investigating potential barriers to success that recruiting teams can address.
“I can look at the results and analyze where we’re successful and where we’re not,” Parambil says. CRM’s greatest strength, however, is not its ability to generate more leads or applicants. It’s in fostering what Parambil calls a “tech-savvy culture.”
“It’s about creating a mindset of using CRM as a way of doing business, rather than just as a tool,” she says. “It’s important people understand the technology behind it.”
This is one of Parambil’s highest goals. She wants to educate staff on the many facets of CRM technology—an endeavor that directly addresses her team’s data challenges. If recruiting and admission officers also understand how to use CRM data effectively, the responsibility doesn’t just fall on IT teams, explains Parambil. “It’s more like ‘we’re all in this together.”
More than anything, Parambil sees CRM software as a resource for success. It provides the technology needed to effectively collect and analyze data, helping IT teams generate useful insights for admission officers. And, if managed carefully, holds the potential to completely re-define a university’s tech culture.
“Put simply: it changes the way we do business,” says Parambil.