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CRM Forum Recap

Cornell Information Technologies held a two-day Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Forum on August 15 and 16 at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Ithaca. Participants came from 23 different colleges and universities, including Yale, Princeton, NYU, University of Michigan, and the University of Colorado Boulder. The forum was organized by Rebecca Joffrey, IT innovation officer with CIT, Todd Hill, senior director of customer IT solutions at Notre Dame, and Dean Ernzen, director of business optimization at Notre Dame.

CRM refers to systems that allow organizations to manage the life cycle of constituent relationships. In the case of schools, constituents could be students, alumni, staff, faculty, or other groups connected to the institution. CRM tools help to automate, manage, and analyze interactions. The resulting data and information provides a comprehensive and holistic view of an individual’s relationship with the university.

Cornell is in the process of implementing an enterprise level CRM system to manage student data and provide a better student experience. The forum served as a gathering place for universities who have either implemented similar systems, or are in the process of scoping systems for their school. Each hour of the forum was part presentation and part discussion, and then fifteen minutes of action items. The group will continue to share ideas for implementing CRM systems in universities.

Topics at the forum included: working with the vendor community; business models and organizational strategies for implementation; balancing user demand; data structuring; CRM integration with front-end content management systems; and IT governance. The group also discussed sticking points, such as multiple instances of CRMs on one campus, funding large and expensive CRM systems, staffing needs, and managing the scope of such projects.

Participants who completed a post-forum survey expressed gratitude for the information sharing and had this to say:

“Was an excellent intimate gathering that encouraged discussion and information sharing across a broad range of CRM topics.”

“The ability to get into deep, solutions-oriented discussions with schools who are at different stages of the same path. I especially liked the end of the Forum where we assigned tasks to group members.”

“Packed with valuable information and insights. I'm sure it will be invaluable information as we work through processes other schools have already tackled.”

The next CRM Forum will take place at Notre Dame in 2018. To learn more about the conversation, contact Rebecca Joffrey at

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