TRU Transforms Business of Higher Education with greymatter


As workforces are experiencing consequential changes during COVID-19, the demand for higher education continues to rise significantly. Where this demand has increased, so has competition for the same pool of prospective students. To lead the competition in student recruitment, admittance, retention, advancement, and promotions, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) identified an opportunity to partner with Frequency Foundry and implement the award-winning full lifecycle Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Solution, greymatter.

The Challenges

TRU Faced Three Central Challenges:

  1. Like many universities with traditional systems, TRU was experiencing data silos that limited its ability to obtain meaningful insights into its students’ journeys. Because TRU serves two distinct traditional and online student populations, it had more silos separating its data than any school that Foundry had worked with previously. Struggling under the weight of a legacy SIS, only a few of TRU’s processes were automated, which made the sharing of data between departments with disparate systems time-consuming and inefficient.
  2. The reductions in funding allocation for domestic student recruitment led to an increase in the competition for international students, who pay higher tuition fees.
  3. The changing demographics of post-secondary students signified an imperative for counsellors to provide personalized support to help students complete their studies.

The Solution

Built on the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Platform and Common Data Services, greymatter uses a single constituent record to aggregate data from every aspect of the student lifecycle to create a full, 360-view of each student’s experience. greymatter measures, manages, and analyzes constituent data, and suggests courses of action to increase conversions, retentions, and fundraising. greymatter also streamlines communications, automates workflows, and helps personnel focus on building the human relationships that drive student success, including:

  • Optimizing recruiting by identifying high-value prospects,
  • Maximizing the conversion of accepted applications by automating workflows,
  • Creating the appropriate nudges, alerts, and interventions to reduce attrition, and
  • Optimizing recruiting by identifying high-value prospects,

By replacing their traditional silo system with greymatter’s centralization of constituent records, interactions, and workflows, TRU was able to successfully transform their business processes and resolve their central challenges.

Peripherally, TRU faced the fourth challenge of a provincial ruling in early 2019 from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, which effectively brought all Cloud projects to a halt across public bodies, including the greymatter project.

As security is a major focus for Frequency Foundry, and as greymatter inherits the best-in-class role-based security framework of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform and Azure Cloud infrastructure, Foundry was able to leverage its expertise, privacy and security regulations, and previous work with Municipal and Provincial Governments to demonstrate the security of the Microsoft Cloud and help revise the B.C. Commissioner’s decision regarding the allowance of Cloud projects.

The Technology

Greymatter is built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Platform and Common Data Services and relies on Azure services for infrastructure, platform, and software. The solution sits within the customer’s Azure and Office 365 tenants and brings together the Power Platform, Azure AI+ML, Productivity, and business apps on the common data service. It has been technically validated and certified for AppSource and is the only solution built on both Microsoft’s Higher Education and Nonprofit Accelerators. Foundry is the only vendor to combine two of Microsoft’s industry solutions using the Common Data Services model, which ensures that greymatter remains standards-driven and standards-based to allow for ease of integration.


Foundry’s team worked extremely well with TRU and built a strong relationship throughout the project implementation. Foundry’s expertise and experience have made all the difference to TRU, which has transformed its approach and focus on students’ needs using greymatter.

When greymatter is fully implemented across the lifecycle, TRU will see an annual cost savings of $120,000 by retiring at least 5 disparate systems. greymatter will help TRU compete by providing a single, unified database used for all functions, and by all faculties and departments, to support a 360-degree view of any constituent and provide a complete view of the student experience.