Salesforce Higher Ed Summit 2020: Our Top Takeaways

Salesforce Higher Ed Summit Virtual Event for institutions, students.

Originally scheduled to take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2020’s Salesforce Higher Ed Summit was forced to adapt like so many of us have this year, by going virtual. The choice was made to switch the conference to an online platform to address Coronavirus safety concerns.

Salesforce showed its ability to remain agile in changing circumstances once again by delaying the date of the conference, which had been planned for June 9th, to June 16th. The decision to postpone the summit was made:

In support of communities advancing racial equality and honoring those who have lost their lives to injustice

Regardless of the change in format, the Higher Ed Summit Virtual (HESV) still had a lot to offer for attendees. There were over 40 sessions aimed at every aspect of Higher Education and an impressive list of speakers, including Ariana Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show.

Diabsolut had two dedicated and experienced team members attend the HESV this year, who will be sharing their insight on both the conference and Salesforce’s Higher Education offerings.

First Impressions

A virtual conference was going to be new for many attendees; what was it like and what were your overall impressions of this year’s Summit?

Nick Van Haeften, Director of Business Development & Client Engagement:

Having been to previous Higher Ed Summits, the virtual format was a unique experience. It opens your eyes to what many of our clients are dealing with right now, learning and connecting virtually. In the past it’s been one of many options—right now it’s the only option. We need to be here for clients facing that reality.

While there were challenges, it was still a great opportunity to grow and learn from. I walked away with a new appreciation for the amount of time and effort Salesforce spends on its Higher Education offerings and was still able to benefit from the great sessions the Higher Ed Summit has always had.

Punya Dutta, Salesforce Consultant:

I’ve attended tech conferences before, but this one really stood out. It was my first Salesforce Higher Ed Summit, and my first virtual conference. Aside from being well organized, the virtual format allowed for a lot of freedom when it came to exploring topics relevant to our clients. I was able to go back and delve into things on a deeper level.

Overall, I would say that it’s evident Salesforce is investing a lot into Higher Ed, both problem-solving and innovating. They’re addressing client needs, which we were able to see and hear about from the institutions themselves—this is such an important perspective to have, especially when helping our clients find solutions.

What to Watch

What should those in Higher Education be expecting to see in the future from Salesforce?

PD: Salesforce right now is doing some amazing things for the recruitment and admissions process. They have some great innovations set to launch later this year with extensive capabilities. Moreover, what they’re doing with the Education Cloud will continue to expand.

Salesforce is listening, they’re adapting, and they’re updating continuously.

NVH: What does the student experience look like when suddenly they can’t walk up to a professor’s door, or meet with other students in the library? Salesforce has always offered digital transformations for a connected campus, but they’re continuing to innovate for the larger role connecting virtually will take.

Top 3 Takeaways

The Higher Ed Summit at a glance.


  1. Salesforce is improving its communication strategy for Higher Ed, which will include simple and straightforward features.
  • Additionally, less effort will be needed and a lot more knowledge will be available for the user (student, faculty, staff, or alumni).
  1. Salesforce’s AI is being optimized for quick and efficient first-time resolutions; this is going to improve how stakeholders view the institution.
  • Institutions will be getting more information, which will be better analyzed, and put to better use.
  1. The student portal will be a major benefit for virtual communication, and the role of the 360 connected campus will grow.
  • Students will be dealing with a lot of change and a lot of challenges.
  • Salesforce is focused on allowing institutions to quickly identify those who are struggling—as well as get them whatever help they need right away.


  1. It’s more important now than ever for students to be able to communicate and feel like they’re still a part of something bigger, so the role of student self-service through Communities will change.
  • It’s going to be great for institutions wanting to offer personalized live support, as well as a more peer-to-peer connection.

2. Salesforce is heavily invested in Higher Education, they’re regularly updating and continuing to expand their                     offerings; clients are benefiting and will continue to benefit from future innovations.

    • This includes the App Exchange, which has a ton of apps specifically for Higher Ed.
  1. Pardot is being adapted for the recruitment process, as well as for things like nurturing relationships with stakeholders.
  • Think better-planned communication, like contacting donors at the right time, in the right way, and reaching out to prospective students who might otherwise be missed.