3 Heroku Use Cases for Education Organizations

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By: Rob Jordan | 4.30.20

There are a whole lot of different education organizations out there in the world. There are colleges and universities. There are organizations providing education to children all over the world. And there are nonprofits that focus on educational tools and programs.

Every organization is working with a larger set of technologies than ever before, and the more complex your institution and its offerings are, the more complex your tech stack is likely to become. Organizations focused on education are no different. They often have complex processes and work with massive amounts of very private data.

That’s where Heroku comes in.

Heroku offers a platform perfect for education organizations or institutions to build custom applications that can process data from disparate sources and extend Salesforce functionality. Particularly, there are three main ways we see education organizations leverage the power of Heroku.

 

Apps

Apps are the easy one. Everyone living in the twenty-first century knows what an app is. When you think about education and apps, you probably think of EdX, Udemy, Kahn Academy, or even the platform we all know and love, Trailhead. (Who here is a Trailhead Ranger? Not me — but I’m working on it.)

App-building possibilities are infinite, and extend past apps that solely deliver educational content. Think about organizations that use a web app to collect and process donations from donors all over the world, or apps that help recruiters identify and talk to potential students and sync that data back to Salesforce.  There are even apps for college professors that manage student records, lesson plans, resources, and HR materials all in one place.

The beauty of an app is that the organizations building them understand all the complex logic that’s running on the Heroku platform to unite data from multiple sources and make that data actionable and accessible. Users of the app see only the sparkling, branded custom interface that draws them in, makes it easy to access or input data, and keeps them coming back.

 

Portals

Picture this: You’re a new student and it’s the first day of school. You could spend the entire day signing up for all the services and applications you’ll need to use every day during your enrollment, filling out your name, address, student ID, email, and phone number over and over again. Or your school could offer a single portal that unites your student record with all the other services and databases you need to access. This online portal could be the way you collaborate with other students, access online materials, get questions answered by your professors, submit homework, and even take classes from remote campuses.

Salesforce Experience Cloud is great for building interactive online spaces where people can come together and gain access to the Salesforce data they need. But it’s not the best solution for every organization, particularly if the goal is to host a large community of people who might also need to access information from disparate sources outside Salesforce.

With Heroku, you can easily pull in CRM data as you need, but can extend past Salesforce functionality and customize the portal to offer everything your community needs in one place.

Portals kind of live between the two other use cases we’re presenting here: they offer a customized user interface (what we traditionally think of when we think of an app) and data management in the background (meaning that it processes and syncs data across multiple systems).

 

Data Management

As someone who knows a lot about these things once told me: “You wouldn’t want to import all the data from your AWS data warehouse into Salesforce.” And he was right — Salesforce is a CRM, not a place to store all the data you’ve ever collected about everything. There are better ways to store that data. And while Heroku isn’t really a storage solution, it does offer a way to bring together external data with the data you do keep in Salesforce, process or analyze it, and then sync back updated data to the right place.

Ok, so what does this look like? Let’s consider a recruiting tool a college or university might use: the recruiter uses a Heroku app that keeps data up to date in Salesforce, pushes information over to Marketing Cloud to jump off marketing automation, stores data in a Postgres database for analysis and processing, and finally pushes other data into databases integrated with Mulesoft. Think of this like a data village: if all the data live in different houses, Heroku is the public square where data come to play and mingle and learn and grow up.

In the end, it’s important to remember that education organizations aren’t just building apps to deliver educational content. Apps are being used to unite complex business processes with disparate data sources, and Heroku makes it easy to build and host an application, particularly to extend the functionality of Salesforce products and services.

If you dream of an app, online community, or better data management abilities for your organization, maybe it’s time to talk to a consultant and see what’s possible.

 

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