FSA Friday - 11/16/18 - "Hey, Alexa … get me some benefits!"

It's no secret that technology will drive the future of benefits enrollment. And we don't just mean online form submission. Today, personal assistants, interactive guides and "at-the-ready" 1:1 counselors are popping up everywhere to make sure you make the most of your benefits for the upcoming year.

Change is good, and that's why I was intrigued by this week's headline, which discusses a personal digital assistant that's making waves for more than 1,000 companies nationwide.

Will People Flock to the Alexa for Employee Benefits? - Molly Fosco, OZY

Now, I'm not sure if this headline contained an honest typo, or a clever push for SEO, but I quickly realized that this piece from OZY wasn't actually about Amazon's ubiquitous home assistant. Rather, this is about the founder and focus behind Alex, a similarly designed (and named) assistant, specific to benefits enrollment.

But Alex is no trend-hopping gimmick. As of 2017, the platform was responsible for helping customers make decisions affecting $110 billion worth of insurance premiums across 1,000+ U.S. companies.

(And to think, I only use my digital assistant for pancake recipes and Spotify playlists…)

Launched in 2013 by Jellyvision, a company best known for popular PC video games like "You Don't Know Jack," Alex has grown steadily, and continues to earn the trust of new users. The reason for this is simplicity -- customers have questions, and with each update, Alex has more answers leading to easier, less-frustrating decisions.

In fact, according to a senior HR specialist for Hershey, "Employees trust [Alex] because it's unadulterated advice."

While artificial intelligence still has a ways to go before fully integrating into our lives (IBM's Watson never quite passed its pre-med exams, did it?) devices like Google Home and Alexa are becoming more ingrained in our planning each day. To the point that AI mistakes are far less of a concern than human error.

Though the article's headline might be a (purposeful) typo, it's not far-fetched to think that those talking speakers in our kitchens might soon be able to perform the same types of roles in our benefit enrollment, delivering targeted advice that turns machine learning into better human wellness.

FSA Friday is a weekly roundup of the latest topics, tips and headlines to keep you updated on all things flex spending. It appears every Friday, exclusively on the FSAstore.com Learning Center. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.

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