Business challenge

Wiley Education Services wanted to identify more efficient ways to automate certain tasks, such as routine records management, while continuing to provide prospective students with engaging online enrollment experiences.


Wiley added the power of Watson™ AI to its technology toolbox, enabling it to work smarter, deliver a more seamless student recruitment experience and derive insights for improving the online enrollment process.


Combined 600 email campaigns into one automated campaign

saving 900 hours of recruiting staff time

Updated content for 200 websites simultaneously

instead of manually updating each website one at a time

Centralized answers to over 80 of the most-asked questions

delivering the correct answers at the right time to support decision making

Business challenge story

Class disruption

At many colleges and universities, admissions officers are seeing the overall number of students enrolling at US institutions decline. Causes include lower birth rates, smaller high school graduating classes and fewer international students coming to the US. In addition, many prospective students have concerns about increases in tuition costs, accruing significant debt and the return on their investment.

Most of America’s 4,300 degree-granting, post-secondary schools have increased their marketing efforts in response to a more competitive recruiting environment. A growing number of colleges and universities rely on partners like Wiley to increase enrollments by making the experience more engaging and meaningful throughout the student journey.

When reaching out to prospective students on behalf of its partners, Wiley’s recruitment specialists have historically focused on personal phone conversations to build relationships and answer questions. But when Wiley saw declines in candidates answering and returning phone calls, they knew it was time to move its primary engagement platform online to better connect with these potential students.

“The challenges our industry faces are not unlike those faced by many other industries, and that’s disruption in how people consume information,” says Jourdan Hathaway, Senior Director of Student Experience at Wiley. “We have decades of experience in what happens on the phone to unlock the motivations, the roadblocks and the challenges. We were looking for ways to uproot the delivery method of how we help students make these decisions and deliver it in a digitized way.”

It lets our team get back to the good stuff — engaging with prospective students in a meaningful way and helping transform their lives. That's really powerful.

Jourdan Hathaway, Senior Director of Student Experience, Wiley Education Services

Transformation story

Beyond rote learning and cramming

With over 70 different technology tools already deployed by its marketing department, Wiley needed to make sure that adding new tools would streamline and not complicate its marketing efforts. After consulting with the Watson Customer Engagement team, Wiley chose the Watson Content Hub platform, a cloud-based content management system with AI services to help build engaging digital experiences.

Wiley also chose the Watson Campaign Automation solution, a software as a service (SaaS)-based digital marketing automation platform that puts the power of data insights into the hands of marketers to design smarter campaigns. The platform also manages consistent campaigns across email, web, mobile push, SMS, social, group messaging and other channels.

To connect its data across its marketing ecosystem, Wiley also deployed Watson Marketing Solutions, which provide omnichannel marketing automation and support the delivery of tailored and content-rich customer experiences.

The adoption of Watson tools started out as a marketing initiative, but other teams at Wiley recognized that they could also benefit from how student recruitment information was being centralized, managed and better understood. For example, the Wiley content administration team began using the Watson products as their digital asset management system for websites and landing pages.

“It’s very transformational in terms of what our organization is able to do,” says Hathaway. “We no longer have to wait for phone appointments to deliver the answers students need. We are able to deliver this information rapidly online because we know what prospective students are looking for. They can gather the information that’s very important for their decision-making. They are looking for a frictionless experience and today we can deliver that.”

Results story

More knowledge, more power

Deployment of Watson tools is helping Wiley build more responsive relationships with prospective students. In addition to managing business-critical communications online instead of through personal phone calls, Wiley has scaled up its capacity to deliver more targeted and relevant information at critical decision points.

Wiley programmed its Watson platforms to answer over 80 of the queries most often posed by potential enrollees. Previously, answers to these questions were sometimes saved across different shared drives or were otherwise difficult for team members to access quickly. Since Wiley manages recruitment for hundreds of degree and certification programs with millions of potential touchpoints with end users, centralizing and automating responses to key questions enabled Wiley’s team to be much more efficient and agile.

“We automated some of our most common content delivery tasks that historically were done in a manual, repetitive way. The big difference is that the team no longer spent their precious time on that,” says Hathaway. “We've taken back 900 hours of staff time and redeployed those efforts on a far more fruitful and productive set of priorities. We can do highly targeted automations that are unique for a given audience. It frees us up from the one-size-fits-all approach of the generalized emails we sent in the past and provides us with the space to make our personalized engagement efforts even more meaningful.”

Implementing the Watson solutions has driven efficiency gains across the Wiley organization. For example, the company automated a legacy campaign that formerly involved 20 percent of its staff time but yielded only 0.02 percent of its revenue. Deadline alerts for over 600 different programs that were once distributed via manually-sent emails now run through a single automated campaign. And updating college rankings on hundreds of websites, formerly a manual task that used to take days, is now accomplished automatically with Watson AI functionality.

“One of the beauties of the platform is that we're able to easily get to the analytics,” says Hathaway, “so that instead of spending all of our time gathering the information, we can activate on it and put it into the marketplace and make decisions on it very quickly. So that's been something that's been really helpful and powerful for us.”

business logo

Wiley Education Services

Building on more than 200 years of experience, Wiley is a leading provider of comprehensive, tailored higher education services to universities around the world. Wiley currently supports over 60 partners, more than 800 programs, and over 5,000 courses, encompassing on-campus, online and hybrid models. By extending its partners’ global reach, creating operational efficiencies and improving learning experiences and outcomes across the student lifecycle, Wiley helps its partners achieve success in an increasingly competitive and dynamic market.

Take the next step

To learn more about the IBM solutions featured in this story, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following websites: