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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.


Hidden channel costs: how to find and tackle them



By Mark Wass, Strategic Sales Director, UK and North EMEA at CloudBlue 


Growth for businesses will always be a key objective. However, in this digital age, if it occurs too rapidly, it can often unearth cracks that harbor hidden costs and pre-existing efficiencies.

 When it comes to channel distribution, for the majority of partners, hidden costs are widespread. A lot of partners work with multiple channels and systems, and this can become complicated. It can also affect their ability to track information.  On average, 30%-40% of IT spending  in large enterprises is accountable to inefficiencies caused by shadow IT.

 There is no single root cause of hidden costs. An array of issues such as wasted resources, labour, time constraints, poor implementation oversights and maintenance issues are all contributors, and the cuts only get deeper as partners scale. Here are the ways service providers can eliminate hidden costs.


Where to look for hidden costs 

 In general, unaccounted, or unattributed costs originate from four areas, with the first being shadow IT.

 Shadow IT is the use of systems, devices, software, applications, or services without explicit IT department approval. The phenomenon has grown in recent years due to the adoption of cloud-based applications and services, with the average company using 30% more unique SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) apps than they were in 2018. Thanks to the ease of adding new software, departments are going it alone and buying platforms that can be niche, or duplicate processes, and even in some cases using multiple versions of chat apps to communicate internally. 

Mark Wass

The next hidden cost stems from implementation and integration. Channel partners need to work within different systems, and almost always underestimate the budget needed to work with new software solutions. A consistent blind spot across the industry is the inconsistency of implementation and integration at budget.   

In terms of maintenance, it is especially difficult when partners create homegrown software to handle provisioning, relationship management, or data management. While such proprietary software might perform well for initial purposes, maintenance and upgrades can be a nightmare. Likewise, internal knowledge transfer in this situation is crucial.  

And finally, the scalability of expanding from one market to the next is not linear and neither is the cost. Partners that have already launched in one part of the world often think that it will cost around the same to expand into another region, like between the US and Europe. However, this thinking does not consider the additional effort to contend with the new currency, language, audience, and regulation, as well as local operations within the region.  


Tackling hidden costs  

The good news is that there are multiple remedies to hidden costs. Integrations, for example, successfully bring together disparate systems and improve efficiency. Partners that have manual processes and pull information from one system before typing it into another are wasting time and resources by dedicating an entire person to this process. Clearly, this should be automated to cut down on human errors and save in the long run. 

Along with integrations, partners should purchase software with scalability and unification at heart. There is no magic platform that does everything entirely so companies should opt for the best of breed, even if the initial investment is a bit more. This will help to offset the concerns of scalability, maintenance, lack of expertise, and potential unforeseen overheads. Moreover, best-in-class platforms help to paint a consistent long-term picture of the health of channel operations. 

For channel health, it is also integral to integrate outside experts to perform an overall business diagnostic. These can be consultants, solution architects, and those alike that know channel software and best industry practices to help architect a scalable and efficient platform. Working in conjunction with the team, these objective outsiders work to find the gaps and tighten any software screws. 


Helping the channel by combating inefficiencies

Hidden costs can become widespread, and this can lead to channel partners paying up to twice the price for half the output.

 More than the financial downside, though, hidden costs should be thought of as hidden inefficiencies. Especially in today’s accelerated digital transformation, inefficiencies can make or break fast-growing channel operations. Therefore, weeding out hidden costs with improved efficiencies can work wonders by saving budget and running a tighter ship. 

 Integrated software and platforms can then be used for change. By unifying and standardising existing systems, managers receive a single view of contracts, reporting, sales, marketing, and day-to-day operations. This  provides them with the right tools to achieve sustainable growth. Rather than overwhelming teams with several types of platforms and software, this single operational view allows for the much-needed oversight that is necessary to set a business up for success. 

 It is essential for channel partners to seize the moment and eliminate the perils of hidden costs, especially given the rapid growth of businesses in the digital and cloud spaces.


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Automation nation: Liberating workers from desks, data entry and the doldrums




Gert-Jan Wijman, VP of EMEA at Celigo.


Just when businesses thought the tough times were over, even more challenges ensued. While still recovering from the financial effects of the pandemic, companies were hit with an economic downturn that’s now resulted in a recession in the UK.

In this economic context, teams are being forced to do more with less. This means onboarding with reduced manpower, delivering ground-breaking marketing campaigns with less budget and mitigating outlay in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. Being nimble and streamlining operations has never been more imperative.

That’s where automation comes in. While automating before the recession would’ve been the ideal scenario, it’s never too late to get ahead of competitors. It’s only a matter of when – not if – automation becomes standardised, as businesses insistent on using legacy tech and manual processes will be outpaced by those savvy enough to embrace smarter alternatives. In fact, it’s predicted that in just two short years, 70% of large global enterprises will have over 70 hyperautomation initiatives.

For finance teams and the tech-strapped CFO in particular, automation can be a saving grace. Tech stacks are more complex than ever due to the proliferation of specialised finance SaaS applications for quote to cash, Accounts Receivable & Accounts Payable (AR / AP), cash management, tax, accounting close and corporate performance management. Having the tools to automate these processes enables modern CFOs to adapt to changing tech needs, scale quickly and future-proof their organisations.

Automating today to prepare for tomorrow

Too often, automation is viewed as a job killer. We’ve all heard the apocalyptic narratives about ‘robots taking over,’ but that’s an outdated notion. Instead, automation is a job enhancer. Not only does it minimise errors, speed up processes and help businesses cut down on admin, it liberates employees to dedicate their time to be more creative or perform complex tasks.

Take a company like WeTransfer, for example. Bogged down by manual processes, the team struggled with closing financial books and completing billing cycles on time. After integrating its tech stack, quote-to-cash automation worked immediately and the time to close reduced dramatically, significantly reducing the hours dedicated to manual data entry.

Its revenue accountant was then able to work on core tasks in the finance department and alongside sales operations on the process improvements, no longer worrying about completeness issues associated with the sales and financial systems integrations.

Not only that, it liberated employees physically and unlocked access to more valuable talents. Beneath all the technical and monetary benefits, these are the core principles behind why automation will soon become impossible for firms to ignore.

Physical Liberation

Hybrid work has been one of the biggest positive developments driven by the pandemic. However, while employees surely won’t miss long commute times or the constraints of office life, a disparate workforce comes with challenges. It’s vital that organisations can trust their data and business processes in order for effective collaboration to be possible.

Automation can enable this, as it allows cloud-based systems to share data across a business through integration, ensuring all workers have access to the resources they need to work together effectively wherever they are.

This makes businesses nimble, able to operate across multiple locations when needed and well equipped to decouple entirely from headquarters if needed. Workers can then be as effective from home as from the office, ensuring they can maintain a better work-life balance without compromising productivity.

It’s no wonder then that 78% of organisations worldwide think remote working will increase the proportion of their workforce using automation, while over two-thirds (71%) that have already implemented automation are beginning to feel the benefits.

Liberating Talent

Automation also ensures talent is no longer wasted on manual tasks. 3 in 5 (60%) occupations could technically automate more than 30% of their tasks, highlighting the bevy of possibilities and offering a glimpse at the future of work.

When workers spend their time crunching numbers and organising spreadsheets, it’s easy for them to feel like a cog in a machine. With automation, however, they have more room to share their ideas and feel connected to the operations of the business.

With menial tasks taken out of their hands, employees are freed up to perform more complicated and creative jobs, the sorts of work that could never be automated. And by filling workers’ days with more of these engaging responsibilities, they’re able to feel like they have a real stake in the company’s success.

There is also research to suggest that workers can get as many as 100 hours a year back as a result of their manual tasks being automated, meaning everyone could get an extra two weeks of paid leave without productivity taking a hit.

Automating into the future

Already, over 80% of organisations self-report increased or continued investment into hyperautomation initiatives. So the appetite is there, now comes making it a reality.

Automation at scale is the dream, but the transition won’t happen overnight. In a perfect world, organisations will be able to assign all manual and tedious tasks to the machines, with employees only needing to provide oversight when necessary, but there’s a journey to get there.

That’s why it’s critical that CFOs collaborate closely with their CIOs. Only then can we realise a scenario where manual processes are eliminated entirely, and data across systems can be accessed and updated in real-time. But this will require leaders to understand each other’s needs and challenges so they can align their visions.

As organisations become more disparate, this partnership will only grow in importance. CIOs can empower the CFO and their teams to implement the automation initiatives best for them, with IT maintaining oversight to ensure compliance.

With the right structure and mindset, CFOs and the entire C-Suite can be encouraged to pursue digital transformation in a way that’s most effective for them and the entire organization.

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