How the future of technology is shaping the benefits industry

Register now

In an age when technology is constantly changing and the next biggest evolution is just right around the corner, those in the insurance, healthcare and financial services industries will need to keep their finger on the pulse of future tech, especially on the future of AI technology, if their companies expect to remain on top.

In 2015, approximately 6% of global revenue, nearly $364.5 billion, was driven by digital technologies, according to a recent study of 2,000 global executives conducted by Cognizant. By 2018, the net impact on revenue from digital technology is expected to more than double from 4.6% to 11.4% or $770 billion, annually.

According to Shan Fowler, senior director of product strategy at Benefitfocus, automation is not replacing the human touch, but the convenience of technology and mobile accessibility is requiring businesses offer electronic services on top of the face-to-face interactions.

“When I think anecdotally, I think about banks and how if I need cash I will go to an ATM, but these days at most places you can pay with Apple Pay or I can upload checks via mobile apps and I chuckle to myself when I see a screen on the ATM pop and it says, “need a bank teller,” because I haven’t needed to see a teller in years,” Fowler says. “How this applies to the healthcare industry is, if you have a digital enrollment platform you can provide a great deal of information up front and if you’re a repeat customer you don’t even need to enter that much information because it is already on file and that streamlines the process.”

Also see:The 50 biggest benefit brokerages on the large-group market, Part 2

Because of the need for advanced technology, businesses are embracing AI which encapsulates multiple technologies already in use, including apps, algorithms, sensors, data and systems of record; 51% of business leaders think AI will have a strong impact on businesses by 2020, according to Cognizant’s study

By 2018, the next generation of digital will impact industry revenue by the following amounts: Financial services ($2.67 trillion), insurance ($1.63 trillion), and healthcare ($2.45 trillion).

Jeff Fleischman, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, says Penn has offered their advisers more up-to-date advancements in their digital technology to have a broader reach when handling their clients.

“Our engagement was primarily done through human-to-human interaction and digital has become a component that was added on after a number of years which can be identified as mobile, web and social media,” Fleischman says. “Digital is allowing more companies to bring in more opportunities at a cost effective price.”

As digital technology becomes more prevalent in the industry, by 2020 81% of executives agree that advisers and brokers will be required to have strong analytical skills for their professional career and for businesses as a whole, according to Cognizant’s study. At least 74% say strategic thinking and 72% say leadership will be vital.

Also see:3 ways to motivate employees during enrollment

Sreeni Kutam, a divisional VP of HR at ADP, says artificial intelligence will soon become the user interface experience and AI will be able to identify skill set gaps with a company’s employee base.

“Let’s say, you are talking to a customer service organization. Based on what sort of tools the associate is interacting with, how much time they are spending and what their compliance scores are, the AI can, in real time, tell a person what the skill set gaps might be and then give them the options to schedule skill improvement classes or mentoring relationships to improve on these pain points,” Kutam says. “Right now organizations do a very broad based approach on skill augmentation, so I’m just thinking where will the AI come in to help out with an organization’s key skill gaps?”

Companies who choose to lag behind on tech advancements may suffer large penalties in terms of revenue. In 2015, the laggard penalty of companies reached about $262 billion and by 2018 the penalty will grow to $1.3 trillion with an average penalty, per company, reaching $692 million, according to Cognizant’s study.

Depending on the industry, digital laggards could potentially forfeit massive amounts of value, For example, the Cognizant study predicts that financial services firms could lose an estimated $951 million while the insurance sector could lose $1.191 million and healthcare could see $613 million dry up.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Technology HR Technology Cloud computing Healthcare analytics Data sharing Big data