As technology solutions continue to shake up the benefit industry, employee benefit firm Digital Insurance says it has decided to throw in a little market disruption of its own by investing in the tech company GoCo. Integrating an all-in-one HR and benefit solution with its brokerage base that spans the nation will not only change the way the firm does business, according to its CEO, but will also “change what small and mid-size employers can expect from their employee benefit advisers.”

Digital Insurance today announced it has bought an equity stake in the Houston-based tech company GoCo.io. The partnership will allow Digital Insurance, through its Digital Benefit Advisors division, to offer small- and mid-size employer clients a human capital management software solution coupled with broker advice and consultation.

“Lots of people are bringing software solutions to small businesses. Lots of people are trying to be a broker for small businesses. We think the real key is to be able to do this and bring it to tens of thousands of groups and actually make money doing it,” says Mike Sullivan, chief growth officer for Digital and a GoCo.io board member. “To do that, we felt the software had to be integrated into everything that we’ve built. We had to have it integrated into the way that we do business.”

Also see: How Heffernan became a tech-focused brokerage.”

What has fundamentally changed in the benefit industry, Sullivan says, is the convergence of HR software, ben admin systems, time and attendance software, etc. Yet, they historically existed in silos, he adds.

“Some of the new players in the space have changed that and have shown that if given a choice, employers would rather have these all in one place. It’s been a real eye opener for us,” Sullivan says.

Also see: Zenefits alternative gets broker endorsement.”

Employee benefit firms, he continues, “all kind of thought about software as this other thing, not core. We managed some vendor relationships and if an employer asks for it, then we give it to them. And that was fine. But we had to change that paradigm and say, ‘It’s not about playing defense, it’s about playing offense.’ We have to make it a way in which we do business and in order to do that, we’re going to invest and tightly integrate this into the way we do business every day.”

Simplify

Marketed under the name “Simplify,” the new software platform addresses comprehensive human capital management needs. And with one system, employers can manage employee benefits, onboarding, off-boarding, payroll and other human capital management activities.

Digital has already begun to roll out the new service with about a dozen or so clients with Dec. 1 start dates. In 2016, Sullivan says, the firm will roll it out to thousands of employer clients.  Digital Benefit Advisors has 30 offices across the country and the company expects many of its 30,000 clients to adopt the technology over the next several years.

“Our vision is to transform the employer-employee relationship with a compelling user experience,” says GoCo.io CEO Nir Leibovich. “People tend to characterize technology in terms of efficiencies; we think in terms of how it can elicit delight.”

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