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Why the Great Resignation Could Drive a Renaissance in Workplace Benefits



Bob Meier, EIS Product Solutions Manager, Benefits and Healthcare


While slowing considerably, the pandemic has spurred a boom in self-employment and career hopping, as people shift employers in search of greater opportunity and work/life balance. But, in taking these bold steps, employees typically give up their health, dental, life, disability and other employer-led insurance benefits, many of which are expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to replace outside of traditional employee benefits programs.

Whether they are changing jobs or leaving the workforce due to layoffs or retirement, most people would welcome the option to take their employer-provided insurance with them. For them, benefits insurance portability could significantly reduce their insurance costs and increase their sense of security. But, more importantly, they would benefit from not having to shop and qualify again for equivalent benefits, fear premium increases or being denied because of their lapsed coverage, age, or health status.

Should insurers be concerned? Well, it depends.

Bob Meier

Chinese philosopher, general, and strategist Sun-Tzu wrote, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity,” which is why shifting employment trends could threaten some employers and insurers.

But, benefits insurance portability offers a big opportunity for those ambitious insurers and employers willing to grapple with the challenge, ensuring a competitive edge for years to come.


Why benefits insurance portability is a winner for carriers and employers that respond

From the employer’s perspective, benefits insurance portability increases the value of the total compensation plan they can offer and could give employers a competitive advantage in tightening job markets.

For insurers, portability increases their attractiveness to their employer clients by helping them attract and retain talent. In addition, the insurer retains the customer, who could continue to purchase from them as they buy homes, and cars, marry, save for college, and plan for their economic future.

Benefits insurance portability also allows insurers to satisfy those evolving customer demands in new ways, through cross- and up-selling opportunities and by helping close the growing gap in insurance ownership.

Basically, benefits insurance portability is a win-win-win and will be a huge part of the future of insurance and how individuals purchase and shop for insurance. But only if insurers are equipped to take advantage of this shift.


Why many insurers will struggle with benefits insurance portability

For insurers, the question is how to maintain a relationship with an individual who once was part of an employer group.

This is not merely a hypothetical as it immediately reveals the inherent limitations of legacy and even “modern-legacy” policy administration, billing and claims systems, which almost invariably are built around policy records and not customer records.

Unfortunately, this is where many benefits insurance technology platforms will fall short. The most-contemporary insurance core systems, aka coretech, avoid such limitations via customer-centric data structures.

Another approach would be to create new group policies for “solo-preneurs” in the same way as they do for large employers. However, this also would reveal limitations with most legacy systems, which lack the low/no-code tools that enable business users to configure and iterate insurance products rapidly. Instead, many insurers still rely on developers to code and refine insurance products, which can take many months or even a year to develop.

Finally, insurers will also need a platform that can scale to house both group and individual benefits products and synchronize the inherently different data that accompanies these different types of insurance products. Adding to the challenge is that legacy and modern legacy systems simply may not be capable of managing multiple insurance segments – or even lines of business – on a single platform.

To handle a hypothetical 300,000-employee case, convert it from group to individual, and port that data over, carriers need a burly – and scalable – rules engine and configurable workflows to change the billing structure and automatically generate new policies. Otherwise, the additional work could be staggering from the carrier’s perspective.

But benefits insurance portability doesn’t need to be cumbersome or costly. As today’s employees embrace more flexible work options, employers and carriers need to be equipped for it. To provide excellent customer and employer experiences for those new products, benefits insurers also will need cloud-native insurance platforms with open APIs.


What’s to come: Partnerships to create personalized bundles of products and services

Data portability – the ability to move data to, through, and from systems, apps, partners, and data providers at scale – is an integral part of insurance portability.

Data portability is critical because it ensures you can interact with insureds as individuals rather than as a cluster around a specific product. It’s also vitally important that insurers are able to consolidate and order data around those individuals, which only be done with the free flow of data between systems and departments.

Again, this will prove challenging for insurers saddled with legacy systems and those structured around insurance products.

Those insurers that are able to break free of the constraints of legacy systems and their archaic product-centric data structures, however, will find themselves liberated to completely reimagine the enrollment and other customer experiences enabled by data portability, which provides the foundation for new methods of distribution and sales, like embedded insurance and ecosystems.

Consider the simple and unified presentation of embedded insurance and its impact on the customer experience. Embedded insurance positions insurance products as an add-on purchase at the point of sale and in a context where the protection makes sense. The $40 extended warranty Amazon offered with your student’s new laptop? With your payment details at the ready, it’s a no-brainer for most of us. Or $5 trip protection as you’re booking your flight, room, and rental car after two years of Covid confinement? Done.

Just as insurers and their partners are personalizing, suggesting, and bundling products and services in the above scenarios, ambitious insurers are looking to improve the enrollment experience with data-driven, personalized, and bundled insurance products.

Paper-based brochures, checklists, redundant and nonsensical application forms and underwriting questions are soon to be the kiss of death for insurers. The reason? Employers and employees increasingly expect the same elegant customer experiences they have with banks and retailers from all of the companies they do business with.

Insurers already are partnering and swapping data, sometimes referred to as “The Great Crossover.” Such an arrangement already exists between John Hancock’s Vitality Plus wellness-incentive program and Allstate’s Drivewise telematics program.

Essentially, data gathered through fitness watches, bio-monitoring bands, and a meditation app can make Vitality participants eligible for lower premiums. Since the partnership between John Hancock and Allstate, Vitality participants also may now qualify for further discounts based on safe-driving data gathered and shared by the Drivewise program.

Partnerships between insurers to offer a more complete portfolio of coverages make a great deal of sense considering how difficult and time consuming it has been for insurers to launch new products.

According to McKinsey & Co.’s “Ecosystem 2.0: Climbing to the next level,” insurers are eagerly pursuing partnerships and ecosystems to expand their product portfolios, make their products more attractive to people, and offer customer experiences that simplify buyer journeys, increase retention, and create product and service bundles that are data-driven, attractive, and drive revenue growth and customer loyalty.

The sticking point for many insurers, though, are legacy systems, with their hard-coded limitations and lack of openness. Ambitious insurers, however, are freeing themselves from these antiquated technologies through either greenfield innovation or digital transformation on API-rich, cloud-native policy administration and insurance core systems.

Employers, insurers and insureds all want the same things: simplified customer experiences, data-driven personalized options, and the security of stable coverage, pricing, providers, and market share.

For ambitious insurers, the great resignation could be the catalyst to fill the gaps between products and needs. For them, benefits insurance portability just makes sense and very well could spur a renaissance in workplace benefits.


How app usage can help brands increase their online revenues and customer retention



Arunabh Madhur, Regional VP & Head Business EMEA at SHAREit Group


Brands are continuing to invest heavily in the e-commerce market despite current market and economic challenges – and they need to. Indeed, the current global e-commerce market is valued at around $5.5 trillion. Further to that, estimates show that online retail sales will reach $6.7 trillion by the end of 2023 – and e-commerce making up 22.3% of those sales.

So despite the economic and market climate, businesses must still plan for success and cater to customer demands to make the most of the global e-commerce opportunity.


Mobile apps are key

Mobile apps are now a fundamental component of retail, as they provide customers with a convenient and engaging way to shop from their phones. The past couple of years has been rocket fuel for digital transformation, providing an opportunity for the retail industry to innovate. Whilst global trends continue to point to the user growth of Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, the trends underneath the headlines highlight significant opportunities to drive new customer acquisition, which in turn demands a targeted customer retention strategy from companies.

According to research from Baymard Institute, 69.82% of online shopping carts are abandoned and with demand expected to continue, pressure is growing on retailers to expand current offerings and create personalised experiences to tackle this. One of the big challenges e-commerce companies face, though, is analysing and maximising the behaviour of users, and bringing down the cost of their marketing and engagement against how much is earned through a customer making a purchase.

To meet customer demand, mobile apps offer a variety of features such as push notifications, product recommendations, exclusive discounts and offers, and easy checkout processes, to make the shopping experience easier for customers. By leveraging the power of mobile technology, brands can create an immersive shopping experience tailored specifically to their customer’s needs, and this in turn helps increase customer loyalty, customer return rates, and maximise online revenue.


Re-targeting and re-engaging customers

Brands should focus on re-engaging with returning consumers through a personalised strategy as this can help increase the lifetime value of users, which in turn helps brands bring the cost of their marketing down knowing that brand loyalty has been achieved. According to research from Google and Storyline Strategies study, 72% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if they offer a personalised experience.

Optimising the online shopping experience is crucial in retaining customers. Today, consumers need a more ‘human’ touch, i.e., smart product suggestions based on buying history & behaviour that helps build a one-to-one relationship between brand and buyer. In particular, push notifications haven’t just enhanced personalisation but also increased app engagement by up to 88%. Push notifications have also proven to get disengaged users back, too, with 65% returning to an app within 30 days of the push notification.

Another strategy to consider is the option of adding buy now pay later (BNPL) options at checkouts for customers. Brands that add the option of financing at the checkout allow customers to spread the cost over time, which according to Klarna has resulted in a 30% increase in checkout conversation rates.

Publisher platforms allow brands to leverage their reach and sticky user base. Especially with open platforms such as SHAREit, which can help e-commerce brands create a strong revenue conversion with higher average order value with unique retargeting and user acquisition solutions. Because users are not just sharing product links, but also sharing e-commerce apps and deals among their community. Users of these publisher platforms are also encouraged to share products and apps through platform activities.


What the future of e-commerce holds for brands

E-commerce is positioning itself as a key facet in retail, and its future. With Advancements in technology, customers can access various products and services worldwide through their smartphones – making shopping more accessible than ever. Brands must put consumers at the heart of everything they do, like never before. Offering incentives and payment options, personalising customers’ experiences and re-engaging them, as well as targeting new customers, in an effective and un-intrusive way, are all ways in which they can influence purchasing decisions and improve retention figures.


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Does the middle market have a financial edge?  



Ilija Ugrinic, Commercial Solutions Director at Proactis


Companies tend to look up the ladder when searching for ways to improve efficiency and business performance. What are larger competitors, or others outside their industry, doing right that they can learn from and implement?

What smart technologies or bright ideas do they have that could create efficiencies for them, too?  

As we enter yet another likely volatile year for business, punctuated by recession, should businesses continue to only look up? And could the approach of a slightly smaller business offer more of a competitive edge? 

Large corporates tend to pioneer innovation in automation by simple virtue of the resources they have. Home to transformation directors and departments, with the ability to implement large overarching software systems, they pave the way for others and are often the first to digitise their source-to-pay cycle at pace. 

Ilija Ugrinic, Commercial Solutions Director at Proactis

While growing businesses understand the merits of full automation, implementing it is often too expensive and it doesn’t bring the rapid realisation of benefits that they need. They need to consider what will bring them the biggest return on investment – and the reality is that those in the middle market don’t necessarily need all the elements of an ‘all-doing’ piece of software. What’s more, without dedicated personnel to project manage a transition, they frequently lack the currency of time to be able to comfortably transform working practices, and take staff with them on the journey, without taking resource from other areas of the business.  

For SMEs, digital transformation has never been quite as seismic a shift. Instead, they tend to take a modular approach, employing digital solutions only for particular areas of their finance department, where they need them. This has never been a particularly strategic move. Rather, for a growing business that values quick results and watches their outgoings with greater scrutiny than their larger counterparts, it’s something that suits them better. A modular approach also comes with very little disruption and can be implemented relatively seamlessly into their existing organisational setups. 

But while growing businesses are opting for a modular approach because it’s the most cost and time effective option for them, the benefits go far beyond that. The beauty of a modular approach is that it is agile. The last three years – with pandemics, an increasingly challenging climate and shifting geopolitical tensions impacting our global economy – have only served to remind us of how suddenly, and drastically, a business landscape can change. The companies that have weathered the storm are those that have reacted and adapted quickly – those that have been capable of changing the way they do things with little impact on day-to-day operations. A modular approach can offer just that.  

Businesses using modular finance technology can integrate small solutions that sync up with the rest of their processes, quickly and seamlessly – and these systems can be integrated into their existing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), too. There’s no restriction of a monolithic or aging piece of software either – finance teams can add and update small solutions to their daily operations without the upheaval of having to replace or update large IT infrastructures or wider working practices within the business to accommodate the new software.

Unrestricted by entrenched and hard-to-change systems, the speed with which SMEs are able to react to market changes is miles ahead. A prompt software add-on to manage risk, or create a quick fix in response to a market shift, can be virtually a knee-jerk reaction. SME’s abilities to bend and flex to today’s world efficiently is seeing them reap the benefits of a modular approach. It’s lean, it’s fast and it’s facilitating their growth with a strong competitive edge. And as some of these companies’ growth propels them into the large corporate sphere, they’re choosing to keep a modular approach to finance.  It will certainly be interesting to watch those middle-sized companies which grow to the extent that they find themselves competing in the same space. With no financial remodelling to assume a large ‘all-doing’ piece of software, they’ll be competing against their counterparts with completely different tools in their arsenal.  

With technology, working life and business needs continuing to change day to day, we have another year ahead of us that will see companies running to keep pace with each other – and fast-growing companies’ approach to finance could be the silver bullet that enables them to catch up with, and even take on, big enterprises. It might just give them a competitive edge against large corporates in these turbulent times.

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