Aon, a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions (NYSE:AON), has identified 16 technology megatrends that are now impacting rewards, benefits and engagement. The megatrends, from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, to geo-spatial and virtual reality tech, are mapped out by Aon in a simple guide which shows how employers are embracing the technologies to support strategy and engage employees.
The 16 technology megatrends and their example uses are:
- Artificial Intelligence and machine learning can automate data analysis, providing complex insights to identify and learn from. AI is all about the end engagement – the bit a person sees, touches or speaks to. But this cannot be accomplished without machine learning to help create the data sets to make it work. Think of machine learning as the engine and AI as the vehicle with all the elements you interact with. With greater predictive capabilities and more personalised recommendations, it is possible to tailor health, benefit or financial options to help prevent worsening situations for employees.
- Automation: the rise of the bots! Automation can make the underlying system processes smarter, faster and more adaptable, while reducing risk. For example, no more manual processing of monthly files with verifications between benefits systems. It will mean less manual intervention for clients and better user experience for employees.
- Big data lets employers interact with huge data sets, construct more complicated strategic models and see more details and trends, to better predict next steps. It turns numbers from information to knowledge, and then to actionable insight to create strategic change. It is possible to compare multi-dimensional benefit data in real time, e.g. to understand specific demographic take-up compared with overall take-up.
- Blockchain. The world has been securing information with data warehousing and cloud computing, but Blockchain’s ‘distributed ledger’ brings unchangeable, unarguable and centrally verifiable data that moves with the user. This could be health history, benefit selection or recruitment files. Benefits plans will become easier to manage, with centralised records between vendors providing streamlined and faster processing for claims, for instance.
- Collaborative tech, crowd sharing, open source platforms are all about productivity and engagement. With collaboration in benefits, it is possible to ask employees for ideas, and understand what they want. They will be part of the solution.
- CX, which relates to customer experience, journey and personalisation, is all about designing with users in mind, not about pushing features. It is about knowing the people, the issues, what they want and how they expect to interact. In benefits and communications there is no one-size-fits-all solution; attitudinal segmentation and behavioural clusters help to move personalisation on from looking at demographics alone.
- Cyber Security must remain at the heart of all operations, now and in the future. Continual review of systems and processes help keep you and employees safe.
- Immersive media – virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) and 360 degree technology bring new ways to communicate and engage, providing a virtual world to remote workers, interacting and collaborating as if they are in the same room. Consider how mobiles can communicate with AR, linking everyday things to new bite size chunks of information; or deliver a benefits fair in a virtual space.
- Geo-spatial tech is pretty special. Sat-navs have long got us home avoiding traffic, but geo-spatial tech can help to make the most of a corporate benefit plan, perhaps saving money through discounts from a voluntary benefits plan within your surrounding area, such as meals out or finding the closest physio from a PMI scheme.
- Human-Computer Interaction (facial/gesture recognition, biometrics, gaze tracking) is often related to unlocking a phone or app, but really it is working in far more ways in our daily lives – from making bank payments to tracking health records at the doctor. It helps benefits engagement by stopping typical blockers like remembering URLs and passwords. Using gaze-tracking, we can see how users interact with tools and apps. From this it is possible to plan which pages of a site you want to use to push certain types of content.
- Internet of Things is all the things that connect to the internet, especially if they communicate with each other – wearables for example – or even smart fridges that can connect to provide nutrition advice. It is fragmented now, but over the next five years more data will be available. It means more information and more customer-centric outcomes will be created, perhaps how often someone visits certain places or if they have specific requirements.
- Mesh apps will bring rich and dynamic connections of people, processes and services – and with the Internet of Things (see point 11), it is possible to share more data between services. Engagement with employees may increase, as they better understand their benefits or company wellbeing approaches.
- Mobile/social internet lets us connect with people in seconds, and supports generational changes in communication norms. It is easier to engage employees by broadcasting a change and asking for feedback instantly. Think media players, video galleries, Facebook ‘Workplace’, web casts and live streaming.
- Mobile tech means that 61% of digital minutes are spent on mobile devices and 80% of that on apps (Commscore, 2017), so there is an expectation that content, features and benefits are now available in this medium. Apps remove obvious blockers of engagement, and offer native functions that mobile responsive sites cannot. App and mobile should now be considered at the forefront of a benefits offering.
- Proximity Tech is a booming industry. The most obvious one is contactless payments; this could be with a card, but with a smartphone the experience is a little different as they use geofencing to let people know the service is available, while using biometrics to unlock the device and Near Field Communication to tap a device and pay. This means people could use geofencing on corporate offers, say checking in at a gym as part of a health plan. Engagement, data and analytics can increase with this as they allow employers to know what people are using and how, so benefits plans align to strategic goals.
- Voice Assistants help us turn on the lights and play music, but will get even more useful. How about ‘Can I afford to put more in my pension?’ It means that benefits and HR teams should get fewer queries and a more engaged workforce.
Dom Manley, UK technology product manager of Aon, said:
“Technology can be a divisive topic, with many people becoming early adopters, and others waiting for processes to become the norm. These 16 megatrends are increasingly becoming the norm, with many early adopters already using them as part of their strategies, and others carefully watching. Either way, it’s better to know what’s coming and what’s possible as these trends will revolutionise our interactions with each other.
“The challenge remains for HR and leadership teams to create organisations that offer excellent working environments, support colleagues’ lifestyles in and outside work, and which deliver relevant and engaging benefits to attract and retain talent – but increasingly in a very different way.”