Artificial Intelligence is Everywhere. How Will it Affect Benefits?

Most people know time is of the essence when diagnosing a stroke: the quicker the diagnosis, the better the chances for a good outcome. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved an artificial intelligence app that can identify the possibility of a stroke in about six minutes!

The power of AI is undeniableand it’s everywhere for consumers.

Did you know every time you open Google Maps, you are using AI? By gathering location data from smartphones, Maps can predict how long it will take you to get to your destination, and may even suggest alternate routes in cases of accidents or other traffic jams. Additionally, AI assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are continuously on hand to answer questions and make our lives easier.

In other words, AI continues to make inroads to better support and personalize the consumer experienceand this opportunity is seen clearly in the benefits industry.

AI makes it easy to get personalized answers

With high-deductible health plans, open enrollment, and 401(k)s, employer benefit plans continue to be viewed as complicated and hard to understand. While companies strive to offer competitive packages to attract and retain top talent, employees seek challenging, individualized, tailored career experiences from their employers.

Most people want to be able to access information about benefits at their own convenience. Although company onboarding processes typically give employees the appropriate benefits overviews, the information often remains confusing and people want to explore their new benefits packages with more clarifications.

Enter the chatbot.

For large enterprises, chatbots are a growing addition to HR’s service landscape. In fact, one expert predicts a 75% adoption rate of chatbots in the workplace by 2020. The appeal of this is that not only can chatbots answer frequently-asked HR/benefits questions, they can also be accessed from anywhere: desktop or mobile.

A majority of surveyed HR leaders believe employees are “very comfortable” interacting with chatbots about factual/procedural issues. Questions about open enrollment, paid time off, maternity/paternity leave, leaves of absence, and so on, can be administered by AI.

AI + predictive analytics = personalized suggestions

The progression of AI into machine learningand ultimately, deep learningis what really lets software go the extra mile in affecting people’s lives. Apps and platforms can simply run bots and programs to help employees learn about their benefits options from a generalized scope. But what if these technologies could help anticipate which specific benefits will likely be needed by which specific employees?

With the proper data sets, predictive analytics can achieve thisand more importantly, set up employees to make educated choices about benefits that are relevant to them and their individual needs. Once that data has been put to work, the applications of AI can have a more tailored reach and be more successful in inspiring action. Personalized nudges, which can take many forms in different channels and different tactics that are most comfortable to employees, are an effective, cost-savings solution to ultimately improve benefits utilization.

AI is the future of benefits…today

All indicators point to AI not going anywhere, anytime soon. A 2017 study by Accenture predicts significant growth across 16 industries by 2035. The same study indicates the profitability of AI technologies hovering near an average of 40% by 2035.

Several experts say AI is the future of benefits management, which will serve both employers and employees well with meaningful impacts. It will be an important technology for ensuring employees understand their benefits correctly and how to use them.

Whether AI is being used to quickly diagnose the likelihood of a stroke, find the quickest route to a destination, or increase benefits engagement, these technologies are certain to grow in the coming yearsopening new, more advanced opportunities to find solutions to complex problems for any consumer.

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