Archive for the ‘Mercer’ category

HRO Inflection Points

June 28, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Everywhere around us inflection points are occurring. Inflection points are a sign that change is occurring that will create a new order of things. Whether we see them, understand their long-term implications, and leverage them to our advantage is another issue.

Social Inflection Points Impact HRO

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two issues impacting marriage law that will change who is entitled to marriage-related federal benefits.

Major social change invariably impacts HR and HRO services, and the marriage law rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court will have wide-ranging implications for workplace benefit plans in at least 12 states.

The long-term implications may take many years to become clear, but leveraging in the short term has already begun. ADP was the first HRO vendor I saw tweet about the court’s ruling by announcing an upcoming webinar on the changes to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Mercer quickly followed with a ‘benefits administration alert’ letter.

Technology Inflection Points Impact HRO

As a disruptive technology, SaaS has started a global “cloud war” that is only just beginning. HR and HRO are just a small piece of the IT landscape and we will see skirmishes as new entrants and long-term leaders battle for market share, industry leadership and shareholder value as they transform not only technology offerings, but revenue streams and business models.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison has been in the news for the last two weeks reporting on earnings that were already impacted by SaaS and the cloud war. Here was one of the industry’s titans comparing Oracle’s SaaS revenues (annualized at ~$1bn) to comparable revenues posted by perennial competitor SAP and upstart Workday!

Upgrade or rip-and-replace decisions are becoming imminent for HR clients and HRO services providers. Many vendors, including Ceridian, Mercer and Talent2, are already developing integrated service platforms and more cloud offerings for organizations of all sizes.

Client Inflection Points Impact HRO

To identify current trends in HRO customer requirements I reviewed current (2013) sources, including NelsonHall’s Targeting Payroll BPO market analysis and HR Outsourcing Confidence Index, and also HRO vendor discussions. Further, I reviewed a research survey by Mandy Sim, a University Teaching Fellow with the Business School at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, entitled the HRO Adoption Survey Report 2012, which identified key Asia-Pacific HRO practices based on a survey conducted on delegates who attended the HRO Today Forum APAC 2012.

Following are my findings on what today’s HRO clients, across service lines and geographies, are wanting from prospective vendors:

  • Value for price, balancing cost with improved outcomes and business impact
  • Standardization of processes and technologies
  • Advanced subject-matter expertise and best practices
  • Scalability across services and geographies
  • Access to new tools, technologies and services.

Ready or not, change is coming to HRO. Are you ready for how will it impact you and your organization?

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Mercer on the Move

June 14, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

This week I attended Mercer’s always well managed and informative analyst forum in Boston, MA. The meeting was focused on the talent consulting line of business.

Talent Management on the Rise

Mercer research indicates that human capital issues are a top CEO concern and managing talent is becoming a board of directors’ issue, moving beyond the traditional CEO succession planning and compensation to overall talent and workforce planning. The new Mercer Talent Barometer Survey, which was introduced at the 2013 World Economic Forum, reports that 60% of the 1,200 global companies surveyed are investing more in talent, but only 30% feel that their workforce plans are highly effective.

The business of talent has become both exciting and disruptive, with possible new entrants, globalization, media, innovations, and opportunities. (Talk about new entrants, eHarmony is considering getting into the talent matching game!)

With a possibility of double-digit growth, the talent group looked at how to grow across the talent value chain by expanding its services, tools and technology offerings for talent, rewards, and communications to increase growth and leverage Mercer’s depth of experience and capabilities.

The answer will become apparent over the next few months as more packaged solutions are launched that combine consulting, information, and technology to meet the needs of clients that want a less-customized consulting approach with “off-the-shelf” packaged and reusable services and tools.

Workforce Planning Versus HR Analytics

Some elements that will be leveraged are already mature and solid revenue producers. Surveys, benchmarks, and analytics for compensation/total rewards and job structures are a more than $200m line of business. Globalization of the revenues is already well on its way, with about equal distribution from North America, Europe, and emerging markets across 57 countries.

Instead of focusing on HR analytics, Mercer is emphasizing data acquisition and integration, data modeling, as well as data visualization as it applies to a wide range of workforce and data that drives business results. This may mean a consulting and outsourcing services engagement, it may mean workshops and training, or self-service use of integrated SaaS technology platforms with one or more Mercer products.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

There are a lot of moving parts in Mercer’s strategy to create an integrated talent solutions portfolio.

It is brought together under the go-to-market Talent Impact label that includes new and existing products and services to forecast, engage, mobilize, reward and assess talent. Behind the scenes Mercer will be streamlining its own architecture into fewer and more integrated technology platforms to support the new offerings.

There is a lot to be done in a short time, but that is in alignment with the “think big, start small, and move fast” philosophy of Orlando Ashford, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business. Mercer is on the move!

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HRO Benefit Providers Go Exchange Wild

March 7, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Activity is picking up again in readiness for the fall benefits enrollment season with HR benefits service providers adding various types of new health insurance exchanges (HIEs).

New HIE Entrants

Towers Watson has just launched its HIE platform, OneExchange, for employees, pre-65, and Medicare retirees. It builds on Towers Watson’s 2012 acquisition of Extend Health and offers employers both private and public exchange-based health insurance options for full and part-time employees and retirees.

Features include:

  • Support from initial financial analysis for employers, to plan comparison, purchase and enrollment, and post-enrollment support and advocacy for individuals
  • ExtendRetiree: Medicare-eligible retiree assistance to identify and select supplement health plans from the myriad of available products
  • BenefitView: real-time dashboard for employers.

Buck Consultants, a Xerox Company, launched a private HIE, RightOpt, for employers with more than 3,000 employees. The exchange will offer:

  • Both a self-funded and fully-insured model
  • Personalization based on a family’s health, adversity to risk, and preferences
  • Member education, decision-support tools, and health engagement resources.

RightOpt will complement Buck’s retiree HIE, My Medicare Advocate, and will be available for Fall 2013 enrollment.

RightOpt intends to differentiate from other private HIEs by allowing employers to use a national network of providers so employees can access the more deeply-discounted networks of providers by metropolitan area; a model that was historically too administratively complex for many employers.

New HIE Alliances

Fidelity Investments announced a strategic alliance with Extend Health, a Towers Watson Company, to provide HIE services to retiring employees to identify and select Medicare and private health care options through Extend Health.

Fidelity is also expanding its own capabilities to incorporate retiree health care into retirement planning including retiree medical account support services to plan sponsors. Examples include:

  • Recordkeeping and reimbursement services
  • Retiree workshops and meetings
  • Strategic communications expertise.

New HIE Exchanges

Those already in the market, including Aon Hewitt and Mercer, are not sitting still.  Mercer has added Mercer Marketplace, for employers with more than 100 employees, to expand its suite of private HIEs. The exchange utilizes a cloud-based technology platform with call center services and online decision support during enrollment.

Affordable Care Act Will Drive Growth and New Services

Once the final ACA regulations kick-in, there will be even more complexity for both employers and employees. Benefits providers like Towers Watson are already preparing more services to roll out including:

  • Connecting workforce segments such as pre-65 retirees, part-time, contract, and seasonal workers to plans offered on public exchanges
  • Providing financial analysis, modeling tools, and consulting to help employers decide whether to use private or public exchange solutions
  • Enabling employers to transition active employees to exchanges offering individual health plans or group-based plans.

HIEs provide many positive benefits:

  • Employers gain help in controlling cost and caring for employee health care needs
  • Employees gain access to wider choices at group discounted rates as well as advanced decisions support tools
  • Benefits providers can use existing outsourcing capabilities, as well as leverage consulting services and allied services such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the new public exchanges.

No wonder benefits provider have gone HIE wild!

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How Mercer’s HCM Views Impact HRO

June 11, 2012

Would you build a $4.5bn facility in Africa if you were not sure you could find the skilled workers to run it? That was the comment of a real CFO at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Human capital management (HCM) was one of the hottest topics at the forum drawing C-suite leaders into a full day of discussions. Concern about talent shortages has reached #2 on the risk management list, and top business leaders are recognizing talent as both a key competitive factor in growth and its lack as a risk factor limiting growth, especially in emerging markets.

This was the opening conversation at Mercer’s analyst forum focusing on its Talent, Rewards, and Communications (TRC) consulting practice and its approach to global talent growth. The TRC group is led by Pat Milligan, Senior Partner and President, and it accounts for $600m of Mercer’s $3.8bn 2011 revenues.

The forum was also about Mercer’s approach to its own growth. Mercer has increased its feet on the ground in emerging markets and is adding to its portfolio of services. Having completed seven acquisitions in the last sixteen months, including ORC Worldwide and CENSEO, expect to see more strategic acquisitions in the near future as Mercer leverages its cash on hand to build scale. Mercer’s TRC practice already has a great start with 55% of revenues from outside of the U.S. and 18% growth in 2011, 11% organic.

Mercer is focusing on more than consulting as a standalone service.  It is combining consulting with enabling technology and data to continue to win in its very competitive market space. Along with discussions on talent management, there were demonstrations of technologies and tool kits to gather, monitor, and manage information that helps clients make better people decisions, such as Mercer iknow and Human Capital Connect. 

Most clients cannot afford to immediately “rip and replace” their current tools and technologies, so Mercer will also help clients who say, “make what I have work.”  Its new Belong portal will be the front door to bringing together the information, tools, and applications – whether it’s Mercer’s own or a client’s blend of programs. Offering HR portals is not new, but Mercer is building in data extractors to offer the most needed information, dashboards, and limited functionality within the portal without having to go out to the full application.

There are other critical components to consider. This is where HRO comes in as part of the build and operations team to ensure cost-effective and viable end-to-end HR services for the participants, HR generalists and COEs, managers, senior leadership, and the enterprise itself.

Whether as a single source of consulting, solutions, and services or by using an ecosystem of preferred partners, is your HRO service provider(s) capable of helping you go from strategy to design, build, operate, and improve your HR capabilities and services to deliver full business value?

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

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