How Does Big Data Impact Employee Benefit Systems?

Companies that make an effort to arm themselves with information about their employees' healthcare problems and requirements are taking the first step toward customizing their coverage offerings in a way that lines up with the specific needs of their workforce. How can they get the ball rolling in terms of kicking off this type of initiative? A good course of action is to take advantage of a technological trend that has revolutionized the corporate landscape in many ways over the past few years: big data.

In a nutshell, big data sounds like what it is - an enormous amount of information that, thanks to modern technology, can be collected, stored, analyzed and transformed into actionable insights that inform businesses and drive a whole host of corporate processes. These range from product creation that more closely matches what consumers are looking for to identifying areas of internal waste and inefficiency.

The benefits and pitfalls of big data

If leveraged correctly, big data has the potential to revolutionize the way firms do business, both internally (with regard to employee benefits, for instance) and externally (such as in terms of consumer relations). However, the flip side of any big data undertaking is that companies run the risk of being buried under an enormous amount of information. This is why data analytics is so important - it effectively separates the wheat from the chaff, putting irrelevant information to the side and honing in on findings that are actually important.

As Geoffrey Moore, chairman emeritus of The Chasm Group, Chasm Institute and TCG Advisors, succinctly phrased it in a tweet, "Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway."

Wrangling all this data is much easier said than done, especially when it comes to employee benefit management. After all, HR management is tasked with integrating claims and utilizing data from a number of different suppliers. Although this may not be an easy feat, it's definitely a necessary one - having a pool of data pertaining to the company's workforce allows HR to test different plan designs based on "what if" scenarios. Ultimately, this empowers the firm to customize its benefits enrollment options based on the requirements that data analytics have indicated as being top of employees' coverage wish lists.

How can Benefitfocus help?

Enterprises that leverage BENEFITFOCUS® Core & Advanced Analytics, the data analytics component of the Benefitfocus Portfolio of Products & Services, can use the solution to tame the big data beast and engage in informed, systematic decision-making. To optimize the employee benefit systems in place at their organizations, HR departments can make changes to variables such as co-pays, deductibles, inflation and member populations then measure the effects to determine whether such alterations will prove advantageous to the workforce.