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Salesforce helps OES rewrite the rules of higher education

03 December, 2015

This article was was originally published by

The way people access higher education is changing. Unless you’re fresh out of school and have the time to study on-campus, you are likely to want a more flexible learning model. Yet you still want the assurance that your curriculum is reputable and your qualification will be recognised.

A new model for higher education

Enter Swinburne Online. This online education provider is a joint venture between Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology and SEEK, and it has been created to give people a new chance to change their lives.

The business is the first venture of company Online Education Services (OES), which recently shot to the top of the BRW Fast 100 2015 list of fastest growing companies in Australia. Clearly, its model is working.

“Increasingly, students want a self-service model supporting their education. They want the ability to do what they need to, right then and there. Particularly when they are busy mums or full-time workers – they want to solve their problems instantly,” said Matt Parker, General Manager of IT and Student Operations, OES.


Since the outset, Salesforce has proven flexible and easy to customise.

Sales Cloud is now at the heart of the company’s sales channel. It’s at the back-end of the Swinburne Online website, and uses features such as web forms and live chat to capture and nurture leads. Various aspects – like Chatter, Knowledge and VisualForce – are being used to enhance the on-boarding process.

Service Cloud’s case management functionality is used extensively to capture all interactions with students – phone, email, web and live chat – so that all staff know exactly where a student’s at.

“Any member of our student services teams can access the latest information on a particular student query. You’d never have been able to do this with a traditional student management system. There would have been emails flying around all over the place,” said Parker.

Analytics-based decisions

OES is using the powerful reporting capabilities of Salesforce to make strategic business decisions around student service management, staff numbers, and much more.

“For example, it may be that students keep amending their enrolment and we know this because Salesforce gives us the data. It begs the questions, ‘are we not providing the right information before they make their first amendment?’” Parker said.

“Or, we can track when students and potential customers are making the most calls, which means we can start resourcing our support team more effectively.”

Connecting a dispersed workforce

One of the features of OES’s model is its engagement of over 200 tutors, most of who work remotely. “We’ve used Salesforce Communities to create a place where these tutors – who are all over Australia – can come together to talk, bounce ideas and access information specific to their jobs. It’s a vital tool to provide a sense of connection in a dispersed workforce,” said Parker.

A growing business

In its four years since inception, OES has grown to be an $80 million company. Not content to rest on its laurels, the business recently introduced a Swinburne Online TAFE offering, and is talking to other universities about its services as an ‘online enabler’.

“Salesforce has matured our business processes. As we’ve grown it has enabled us to go from a start up with small student numbers to a larger business where we now deliver tertiary education and support over 7,000 students in Australia and internationally,” said Parker.

“With Salesforce we can move to service multiple customers on a single platform. It’s a base platform – as we grow OES through partnerships, we will be able to use the base and tailor it to meet the needs of new students. Salesforce evolves with us.”