• July 26, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Higher Education Belts On Intelliworks CRM

Higher-education CRM vendor Intelliworks this week introduced Orion, a software-as-a-service platform answering college administrators' growing need to manage contacts with alumni, current and prospective students, and others more effectively. Orion is available in a $100-per-month form (Professional Edition) for single users as well as a Team Edition with variable pricing.

Orion helps university administration teams manage campus events, promote course offerings, and track contact with prospective students in a coordinated and collaborative fashion, according to Intelliworks. The company bills its system as boasting a user-friendlier interface than existing solutions for higher education, with a central data repository for recruiters and marketers to import and store data on people and their activities such as clicking embedded links in an online newsletter. This supports the demand for better and more effective communication with constituents, driven by increased competition in higher education.

"Orion is really an on-demand SaaS that enables higher education marketers, recruiters--those who are essentially doing relationship marketing work--to slice and dice the universe or population of people and essentially build a one-to-one personal messaging," says Anirban Chakrabarti, vice president of product marketing, Intelliworks. Orion allows schools to address the three main drivers behind the need for personalized communication, which Chakrabarti says are recruiting, student retention, and alumni relations.

Chakrabarti says Intelliworks Orion addresses the needs of undergraduate and graduate institutions across the different segments of higher education "One is a segment that is considered the SMB size segment of higher education: the departments and programs within the business school, engineering school, law school, medical school, professional schools, open enrollment programs that really have a very discrete product offering and are trying to align that with a broader market that needs it," he says. "The other segment is the enterprise segment that consists of your classic undergrad recruiting; it has a lot more analysis baked into the overall process."

Analysts are praising Orion for improving the state of higher-education CRM. "Orion represents an important step forward for CRM in higher education in general, in terms of usability for end-users," says Nicole Engelbert, senior analyst for education and vertical markets technology with Datamonitor. Typical users--deans, advisors, clerical staff--are a bit below-mean in terms of comfort with technology, and existing solutions' interfaces have been clumsy. Orion lowers the hurdle--its end-user interface is much more intuitive, and styled more like consumer-level technology. It's beautiful."

Engelbert's assessment extends to the company as well as its product. "Intelliworks has made a very strong investment in analytics and reporting. This sets them apart, especially among other higher-education CRM vendors," she says. "Their commitment to offering SaaS also puts them a bit ahead of the curve."

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