As we ring in a new year, I thought it might be beneficial for us to share our perspectives for how the HR and Benefits Technology marketplace will evolve throughout 2017 – as these innovations and pushes will be at the forefront of your client’s minds over the next 12 months. Within our industry, the last few years have seen a laser-like focus on compliance. More specifically, both employers and HR/Benefits technology vendors have been focused on ACA and Forms 1094/1095. Both vendors and employers alike were simply focused on producing those forms and getting them right (which many accomplished to varying degrees of success). With ACA (somewhat) in our rearview mirror, many vendors have rekindled their fire around innovation and we expect to see some pretty interesting things come to market in 2017. In no particular order, here are a few of our predictions for HR Tech in 2017. – HCM Vendors Focus on Broker Portals, Tools, and Programs – HCM vendors have long sought to build partnerships with employee benefit brokers. They recognize the unique relationship that you hold with your clients and they want “in on that”. Over the last 10+ years, we’ve witnessed several vendors make a push at the beginning of a fiscal or calendar year to build these partnerships, only to witness them fade away due to a lack of success or tangible tools. In 2017, we expect to see many of these vendors (ADP, Paylocity, Paycom, Paycor, etc) develop broker-centric tools and portals for you to have access into their systems for your clients that partner with that vendor. Along similar lines, several of these vendors will implement or resurrect broker partner programs where they will enter into a rev-share arrangement for deals into which you bring them. As you know, our Unwavering Objectivity model prohibits MillsonJames for receiving these payments, but there may be some revenue on the table for your agency. – Electronic Onboarding – You may argue that many of the HR technology vendors have focused on this particular HR activity in the past, but we believe there will be an even larger push and more significant innovation and integration as it relates to turning the historically paper-driven process into an electronic process. HR professionals have “seen the light” as it relates to paperless HR and we’ll continue to see an explosion of Onboarding tools, technology, and automation in 2017. – Mobile – Similar to the above, mobile has been a focal point for many of the HCM vendors for the last several years, but that focus is about to become even more intense. The desire for mobile across all industries (consumer, medical, banking, HR technology) got a shot in the arm this past summer with the explosion of Pokemon GO mobile game app. I know that sounds silly and I certainly don’t fully understand the phenomenon either, but in only 3 short weeks of usage, it attracted more than 30 million users. Those statistics cannot be ignored and HR technology vendors will look to find ways to attract users to their platform. “Pokemon HR” is most certainly not on any immediate horizon, but please know that mobile access and mobile utilization for HR activities will be at the forefront of your client’s minds. – Artificial Intelligence – Whether you use the term artificial intelligence, natural language processing, or robotic processing, there will continue to be a push towards leveraging these technologies in the world of HR. Again, the cultural phenomenon of Siri, Google Now, Amazon Echo, Cortana, and others will not be ignored by the CIOs/Innovation Officers of HR Technology companies. – Benefit User Technologies – We see continued development in the benefits arena as it relates to transparency tools, decision support, and plan recommendation. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise and as the lack of comprehension with regards to benefit remains high, these tools will remain a focus for HR leaders. We need to focus on educating employees and providing them with user-friendly tools so that they can close these gaps and help make them better, more informed consumers of healthcare. – ACA Compliance – At this stage of the game, our best guess is as good as yours. It is still too early to tell what the new Administration will do with ACA (modify, eliminate certain portions, repeal), but you can be certain that there will be a mad scramble to identify ways to automate the compliance with whatever Mr Trump and the Legislators dream up. We are excited to see what 2017 has in store for us and we look forward to partnering with you and your clients to help make the most of these innovations.
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