Debi O’Donovan: Data will change the benefits landscape

For some time now, we have been aware that the delivery of employee benefits has been disrupted by technology. From the rise of benefits platforms and portals to communicating perks via mobile devices, the world of benefits as we knew it has been revolutionised.

Debi O'Donovan editor Employee Benefits 2013 (305 x 240)

But there is still a way to go, with even bigger changes predicted by the industry’s forward-thinkers.

Speaking to leading benefits directors at the Employee Benefits Summit last month, it was clear that most had not yet felt the impact of not being able to pay for pensions via commission in a post-retail distribution review landscape.While researching the feature ’Why hard data on employee benefits has become so crucial, it became clear that it is not advances in the technology itself that is driving the change. Market forces are the bigger factor, with controlling costs topping the list.

Nor had they been affected by the withdrawal of services that used to come ‘free’ with commission-based pensions, such as financial education or flexible benefits platforms.

However, market predictors cite this shift in how workplace financial benefits are paid for as being the key catalyst for a future change in the way in-house benefits managers will have to justify their benefits spend.

And it is from here that the demand for more data will come. In some cases, the relevant data will be found within employers’ own organisations. But suppliers are also sitting on vast quantities of valuable management information (MI) that benefits managers want and will need.

Feedback from our summit delegates indicates that provision of this data from suppliers is patchy. Some suppliers do not seem to be willing to provide it at all (insurers are particularly guilty here), and others want to charge for every supply. But there are a few that see supplying a client’s own MI as simply part of an added-value service.

I suspect we will see practices on supplier-provided data and MI undergo a revolution as their employer clients demand more.

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits 

Twitter: @DebiODonovan

P.S. This month sees Employee Benefits’ annual summer party networking lunch and awards. Whether you have entered the awards or not, this is a great opportunity to mingle with your peers in this unique community of benefits professionals.

I look forward to seeing many of you there.