When I got into the Benefits Technology business in 1997 I was given some great advice from one of our company programmers and that was, “You Can’t Win or Stop a Technology War.” I found this quote to be so true that I share it with some benefits broker, technology vendor, or employer almost daily.
When it comes to technology, whether it is an automobile, a cell phone, a camera, or a benefits enrollment system, there are those that wish technology advancements would stop and others who think they are going to win. There are certainly many examples of each. Think about companies like Kodak, Polaroid, and Blockbuster, and how they may wish the world hadn’t changed. Then there are those who are trying to “win’ the war. Very few companies have the capital to compete in that world. Certainly companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google may come to mind as companies that are winning, at least for the moment. However, these companies, like Microsoft, will have many companies shooting at them and each will spend a great deal of capital trying to maintain their lead position.
So let’s talk about the benefits business. Benefits brokers are always asking me who is the “best benefits enrollment vendor” or what do you think if this vendor or that vendor. My response is always the same. First off, best is relative. Second whoever may be “best” today may not be best 3 or 6 months from now when another vendor comes out with something better.
The vendors also participate in this game. Recently I did market research for a client looking for a benefits enrollment system. During the process I would bet I had 4-5 vendors make the claim that they were the best. None of them could quantify why but at least that is what they thought. I then asked them how much money they had in the bank to compete in this space. Few would give me the answer though the question is very relevant if “Winning the Game” was a competitive objective.
The benefits enrollment technology game is changing rapidly. Prior to 2006 ADP, Paychex, and Microsoft were not in the benefits enrollment business. Today they are and they have cash. Even Salesforce.com has now entered the HR Technology business. How long do you think it will be before they have a benefits enrollment system?
For those brokers looking to find the best benefits enrollment vendor my advice is stop. Whoever you may choose will not be the best 6 or 12 months from now because someone will have come up with something better. The best thing to do is focus on the problem. If a client wants a benefits enrollment system there are many vendors that have solutions that will work.