Startup Tech The Data Challenge by B2E Technologies Data has always presented a unique challenge, partly because it’s personal information and therefore subject to more stringent data protection regimes, but also because there has been little connectivity between the parties and systems in the HR, Benefits and Payroll value chain. Relatively low volumes of data transfers (which may be once a month, or even once a year) combined with varying data structures across an array of solutions and technology products means that static, mapped data interfaces don’t work well. Manual processing and system integration are a major barrier to the efficient, “right-firsttime” processing that is the bedrock of admin efficiency and cost models across many industries. HR, Benefits and Payroll is no different and any initiative that improves data handling and automation gets my vote. Efficient data-handling capabilities provide a competitive edge. Flow of data between product providers, benefits administration systems, human resources, other clientdependent systems and payroll is critical. Data residing in corresponding systems is often out of sync, leading to data discrepancies that can require excessive workarounds, re-work or supplemental runs. In order for low-cost, mass-customisable administration, across all of the HR Functions to be achieved, technology solutions need to be equipped with quick and efficient data extraction and full validation from key adjacent systems such as Payroll, Finance, Time Recording, Absence and other dependent HR and client systems. This eliminates “copy-paste” and reformatting time Meanwhile, human intervention remains commonplace with data being manipulated in spreadsheets to transfer information. For example, you’ll often see coloured cells to denote special information, text notes to provide more context, merged headings that span multiple columns containing similar information, etc. Those things make data clearer for humans but unintelligible to downstream technology systems without further manual processing. Getting usable data from external spreadsheets should be simple. And it would be if everyone used the same standards but, in the HR, Benefits and Payroll world, it doesn’t happen. The inevitable outcome is that spreadsheets require manual data manipulation. This might work for very small groups of employees but soon becomes unwieldy once the numbers grow. Reformatting doesn’t scale particularly well, it wastes a lot of time, and there’s the risk that errors creep in. Even a small mistake can be costly. So what can you do to turn what you receive into what you need? It’s often positioned as a choice between no connectivity or total connectivity but there is a middle ground that enables parties to tackle this thorny issue, leveraging technology to intelligently transform the data “in flight” as it moves from one party to another. Data interfacing tools are used to enable the exchange of data to each party’s defined standards, removing the need to disrupt existing systems and allowing intermediaries to focus on their core strengths. For those that are able to leverage technology to augment their capabilities the future looks positive, while those unable to change are likely to face a battle for survival. This post was written by Andy Green, Head of Growth, Marketing & Proposition at B2E Technologies.