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HRT 2018_Expo Edition
LinkedIn icon  Twitter icon October 2, 2018

Dear HR Benefits and Administration Professional,

This email is a follow up to our HR Technology & Exposition “Conference” Insights, which you should have received last week. If you missed it, here’s a link. Between sessions, our team spent time on the exposition floor, meeting with specific service providers, based on our interests (and yours). This was a great opportunity for us to get a “hands-on” look at new providers, products and features. The start-up pavilion is always one of our favorite spots and, as usual, it was packed with attendees interested in learning what’s new. Following are the big picture insights we took from the expo along with some fun product call-outs and solutions we found particularly unique or interesting. If you have questions about other specific products or providers, feel free to reach out.


Recruiting solutions abound. The huge number of solutions related to recruiting (77 this year) is proof that the war for talent is real. Within this group, the providers vary greatly ― some offering face-to-face solutions, others all online. As this sector grows, it’s getting more focused, e.g., one solution (Swarm Vision) is designed to specifically find innovators; another targets salespeople (Rainmakers). Tools to assess candidate skills and aptitude, overall, are big. If talent can’t be found where the company is based, TalentNeuron, helps companies “optimize location selection based on talent.” One of our favorites from the start-up pavilion is, which performs a “personality DNA test” based on uploading favorite images. The platform combines “psychology, structured/unstructured social and/or enterprise data, and machine learning to identify subconscious motivators and leverage these vital personality insights to improve business outcomes.” can be used for hiring or talent management.

  robot and human hand holding blank tablet_sm

A.I. is everywhere…if you believe the sales hype. Artificial intelligence was touted as a key feature of many new (or newly enhanced) solutions. Much of it “sits on top” of a benefit administration or HCM platform, as a solution to replace a call center with intelligent chat and to provide employees access to all employer information in one place. There are both stand-alone and integrated offerings in this space. As we cautioned in the Conference edition, those looking at AI need to be diligent and ask questions to separate true AI from marketing messages. That said, there’s a lot of smart folks out there with money behind them, so this is a sector to watch.

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Apps have peaked. A few years ago, “download the app” was the mantra at HR Tech. The pendulum has swung, and mobile responsive websites are now the most popular way to access new solutions. As it pertains to product functionality, there’s little real difference aside from the ease and simplicity of access, but browser-based solutions are preferable to employers in these days of heightened security with employer-issued devises. Employees in a “bring-your-own-device” environment are also happy; browser-based solutions don’t eat up storage. Also, increased design “security comfort" is emanating from the adoption of dual factor (and, less common, multi-factor) authentication. We believe this added layer of security, along with the adoption of HTML5 for most websites, is helping to usher in a better mobile responsive design experience.

hand holding flat tablet with global workforce

Tools for the gig economy. As companies struggle to manage their workflow when relying on more contingent workers, the market is responding with tools to assist with onboarding and management. One, Shiftgig, is an app-based solution that connects businesses with pre-qualified, ready-to-work professionals. Two other companies we looked at in this sector are Essium and Beeline. Both are end-to-end solutions that emphasize compliance for the processes and documentation necessary to prove adherence to internal and external rules and regulations governing how businesses manage employees and contractors. Beeline differentiates by industry, versus size.

  add-on benefits Add-on benefits. The scope of non-traditional benefits appears to be widening as market players compete for employer eyeballs and employee interest. A few that caught our attention:
  • Carrot Fertility – Allows companies to design a fertility plan (extends to adoption, surrogate) that offers coverage to all employees regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. The employer determines the level of funding.
  • Cleo – In short, an employee assistance program (EAP) for new parents that begins at the “considering parenthood” stage through parenthood and the transition back to work.
  • Scoop – Employer-sponsored carpooling solution to help employees find a ride to work with both co-workers and neighbors. Employers can opt to cover some or all of the cost or offer as an employee-paid service.
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Employee experience and engagement. Lots of providers were offering advanced analytics tools (some called it AI) with a focus on keeping employees engaged and, presumably, retained. Ambit Analytics offers an app that allows employees to communicate with their manager in real time, e.g., offer feedback during a presentation which could allow the presenter to pivot based on that feedback. With VC investment funds, Ambit also is developing technology focused on helping managers be more empathetic in the workplace (a big theme we addressed in a recent recap from Businessolver’s Vision conference) by examining the ways in which we talk and listen.
BetterUp Generation-specific tools. We saw lots of tools targeting younger workforce generations (not much new here), but it was nice to see a few targeting older generations. Our favorite was BetterUp, a mobile platform to provide career development and lifestyle coaching, using vetted, third-party executive coaching services. BetterUp is like using Facetime to communicate with your own personalized coach.
tech wrapper Emerging (and not fast enough) are software “wrappers.” Providers know it’s hard to get one customer to buy all a platform’s functions and employers know it’s hard to get employees to use them. One solution is a “wrapper” approach ― software that can highlight and kick-off multiple workflows (or to-dos), drawing on multiple information sources. For example, an employee who types “I’m having a baby,” would get back a wide range of employer benefit information, e.g., time-off policy, plan coverage details, medical provider resources, pre-natal wellbeing tips, etc. The goal is to improve the employee experience through positive interaction with the employer. Companies promote these tools as time savers for staff (fewer calls to field) and one-stop shopping for employees, especially younger generations who expect a lot from their technology. We applaud this type of product if it can deliver on simplicity. Messy or hard to use platforms reflect poorly on HR.
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healium xr
The cool and the weird. Among the coolest tools we came across was Spot, an online bot that asks a sexual harassment victim about their workplace experience, using a so-called cognitive interview technique. The concept is that, with the app, no human bias or judgement comes into play and keeps the individual reporting the harassment in control, including deciding whether to submit the report ― anonymously or identified. All interview data is wiped from the server so there is no provider access to the information. In the weird (but also kind of cool) category, Healium XR allows the user to control virtual and augmented reality environments with their thoughts using employer-provided virtual reality headsets. Think stress reliever by changing your state of mind through virtual experiences.
laptop camera cover The giveaway says it all. Over the years, we’ve found the most popular giveaways reflect what is going on in the market — case in point, a few years ago everyone was handing out stress balls. This year: laptop camera cover-ups. Apparently, we’re all concerned about who’s watching us work.

Thanks to all of you who stopped by the Gallagher booth to say hello! It was great to see so many old friends and meet new ones. For those of you who were not at the show, we hope this exposition edition of HR Tech 2018 Industry Insights is helpful in making some sense of what’s happening in this ever-growing and more confusing market. We’re here to help you decipher it. We take all this information (and more) and funnel it into our proprietary market scans. This allows Gruppo Marcucci consultants to help our clients strategize, buy, implement and optimize their HR and benefits technology. If we can assist you, give us a call at 312.690.2690.

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Gruppo Marcucci, a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., assists HR technology outsourcing stakeholders with the full spectrum of consulting services, including private exchanges, tools to choose/use health plans, ACA support tools, Benefit Administration, HR/payroll technology, spending accounts, COBRA and more. © Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. 2018.
This email is a promotional message from Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. Consulting and insurance brokerage services to be provided by Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. and/or its affiliate Gallagher Benefit Services (Canada) Group Inc. Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc. is a licensed insurance agency that does business in California as Gallagher Benefit Services of California Insurance Services and in Massachusetts as Gallagher Benefit Insurance Services. Neither Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., nor its affiliates provide accounting, legal or tax advice. Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Privacy Policy.

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