Tech trends 2019

Talk of technology can create excitement or dread, such is its divisiveness. But whatever your stance, its far better to know what’s coming your way especially as we’re in a period of such enormous innovation.

Technology megatrends are shifting rewards, benefits and engagement, helping to support people and employers more efficiently. These 16 trends will undoubtedly improve your strategies, but which ones?

We spoke to Jon Bryant, Aon to get Aon’s guide to the 16 technology megatrends.

  1. Artificial Intelligence or machine learning, simply put, automate data analysis providing complex insights for us to identify and learn. With greater predictive capabilities and more personalised recommendations, it’s possible to tailor health, benefit or financial options to help prevent worsening situations for employees.
  2. Internet of Things is all the stuff that connects to the internet, especially if they communicate with each other, so wearables for example, or even smart fridges that can connect to provide nutrition advice. It’s fragmented now, but over the next 5 years more data will be available. It means more information and more customer-centric outcomes will be created, perhaps how often someone visits certain places or if they have specific requirements.
  3. Mobile/social internet lets us connect with people in seconds, supporting, especially, generational changes. It’s easier to engage employees by broadcasting a change and asking for feedback instantly. Think media players, video galleries, Facebook ‘Workplace’, web casts and live streaming.
  4. The world has been securing information with data warehousing and cloud computing, but Blockchain’s ‘distributed ledger’ brings unchangeable, unarguable and centrally verifiable data that moves with the user. This could be health history, benefit selection or recruitment files. Benefits plans will become easier to manage, with centralised records between vendors providing streamlined and faster processing for claims, for instance.
  5. Big data lets us interact with huge data sets, construct more complicated strategic models see more details and trends, so we can better predict next steps. It turns numbers from information to knowledge, and then to actionable insight to create strategic change. It’s possible to cross-compare multi-dimensional benefit data in real time to understand specific demographic take-up, compared with overall take-up.
  6. Automation is the rise of the bots! Automation makes the underlying system processes smarter, faster and more adaptable, while reducing risk. Just think, no more processing of monthly files with verifications between benefits systems. It’ll mean less manual intervention for clients and better user experience for employees.
  7. Immersive media – virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 degree technology bring new ways to communicate and engage, providing a virtual world to remote workers, interacting and collaborating as if they’re in the same room. Consider how mobiles can communicate with AR, linking everyday things to new bite size chunks of information, or deliver your benefits fair in a virtual space.
  8. Mobile tech means that 61% of digital minutes are spent on mobile devices and 80% on apps (Commscore, 2017), so there’s an expectation that content, features and benefits are now available on them. Apps remove obvious blockers of engagement, and offer native functions that mobile responsive can’t. App and mobile should be the forefront of a benefits offering, now.
  9. Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SAAS) enable applications to be configured and deployed from a central location to local hardware – a computer or mobile, for instance. Users get better access and control over services, with strategic data when they need it. Mesh apps will bring rich and dynamic connections of people, processes and services – and with the Internet of Things, we’ll be able to share more data between services. Engagement with employees can increase, as they better understand their benefits or company wellbeing approaches.
  10. CX – customer experience, journey and personalisation are all about designing for users in mind, not about pushing features. It’s about knowing your people, the issues, what they want and how they expect to interact. In benefits and comms, there is not a one-size-fits-all so attitudinal segmentation and behavioural clusters move personalisation on from demographics.
  11. Cyber Security must remain at the heart of all operations, now and in the future. Continual review of systems and processes help keep you and employees safe.
  12. Voice Assistants like Alexa help us turn on the lights and play music, but will get even more useful. How about ‘Can I afford to put more in my pension?’. It means that benefits and HR teams should get less queries and a more engaged workforce.
  13. Collaborative tech, crowd sharing, open source platforms are all about productivity and engagement. With collaboration in benefits, you can ask employees for ideas, and understand what they want. They’ll be part of the solution.
  14. Human-Computer Interaction (facial/gesture recognition, biometrics, gaze tracking) is often related to unlocking a phone or app, but really it’s working far more in to our daily lives – from making bank payments to tracking health records at the doctor. It helps benefits engagement by stopping typical blockers like remembering URLs and passwords. Using gaze-tracking, we can see how users interact with tools and apps. Its possible to plan which page to push certain types of content.
  15. Geo-spatial tech is pretty special. Sat-navs have long got us home avoiding traffic, but geo-spatial tech can help you make the most of a corporate benefit plan, perhaps saving money by offering discounts on a voluntary benefits plan or finding the closest physio from a PMI scheme.
  16. Proximity Tech is a booming industry. The most obvious one is contactless payments; this could be with a card, but with a smartphone – so ApplePay and GooglePay – the experience is a little different as they use geofencing to let you know the service is available, while using biometrics to unlock the device and Near Field Communication to tap your device and pay. This means you could use geofencing on corporate offers, say checking in at a gym as part of a healthplan. Engagement, data and analytics rocket with this as they allow you to know what people are using and how, so benefits plans align to strategic goals.

The world of work has transformed over the last decade and will transform it again in the next. The rise of technology and these mega trends revolutionise our interactions with each other meaning the challenge for HR and leadership teams is to create organisations that offer excellent working environments, support colleagues’ lifestyles in and outside work and deliver relevant and engaging benefits to attract and retain talent. There’s no escaping that these 16 megatrends – and more as they are created – will be part of that.