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New human resources/benefits software poised to take on Zenefits

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Digital Insurance Inc. on Wednesday said its new partnership with Houston-based technology company GoCo.io Inc. will shake up the benefits landscape by combining one-stop human resources software with its employee benefits advisory services.

Atlanta-based Digital bought a minority stake in GoCo.io to deliver a comprehensive human resources and benefits platform to small and midsize employers, an underserved group, according to a company statement released Wednesday.

It's the same arena in which San Francisco-based human resources and benefits startup Zenefits Inc. is winning clients. Many benefits brokers, however, claim such technology-focused startups lack benefits expertise.

“Zenefits was probably a catalyst for us to think about our approach to what small and midsize employers were looking for,” said Digital's Chief Growth Officer Mike Sullivan. “It really set us on a path to understand how we can not just compete with them, but also in a way move beyond where they are at.”

Mr. Sullivan defines small and midsize employers as those having between 10 and 500 workers.

“Our view is that software has an absolute purpose. There's a huge amount that can be accomplished in terms of driving administrative efficiency in our business, but it's equally important that you have deep expertise,” Mr. Sullivan said.

In a separate statement released by GoCo.io, CEO Nir Leibovich said: “By combining our technology with Digital's nationwide system of respected benefit advisers, we deliver a state of Zen that no other (small- and midsize business) approach achieves.

“Without a strong advisory system, solutions offering software to clients in exchange for becoming the broker-of-record are off balance,” Mr. Leibovich said.

Digital's platform, called Simplify, offers one system to manage employee benefits, on-boarding, off-boarding, payroll and other human resources activities, according to the statement.

Mr. Sullivan said the platform will let Digital interact with the employer clients as well employees and their families.

The platform will be rolled out in 2016 through Digital Benefit Advisors, a unit of Digital, and the firm “expects many of its 30,000 clients to adopt this technology over the next several years,” according to the statement.