By Kenny Hendricks
Direction of Partner Integration, HawkSoft
The world of insurance technology is maturing into a rich and interconnected ecosystem. HawkSoft has made a concerted effort over the last two years to play our part in this trend. A large part of this has been through our Partner API program, which allows agencies to integrate HawkSoft with systems offering marketing automation, review management, mobile apps for insured, data analytics, and more.
As the Director of Partner Integration at HawkSoft, I’d like to share some insights on what the program has accomplished and what exciting additions are coming in 2022. And to entice you to read the whole thing, we have news about HawkSoft’s two-way API.
In this article:
- What have we said about the Partner API in the past?
- What is HawkSoft's Partner API?
- What have we accomplished with the Partner API so far?
- What are the goals for the Partner API in 2022?
- Two-Way Integration with Writable API
- New API Partners
- PartnerTalk Live webinar series
- Dedicated partner landing pages
- How can I help as a HawkSoft customer or third party?
- Why is the Partner API so important to HawkSoft?
What have we said about the Partner API in the past?
This article is the fourth entry in an ongoing conversation about HawkSoft’s API plans, and is aimed at building on these past entries. Anyone looking to fully understand HawkSoft’s journey with our Partner API is encouraged to read these articles first.
- An Open Conversation about APIs: I first wrote about APIs in 2017 – the most relevant information here is the definitions of private vs. open APIs.
- Update on HawkSoft’s Partner API: This article explores a change in the infrastructure of the Partner API, shifting from a single lane highway to a multi-lane freeway.
- HawkSoft’s Partner API: an Update from the Road: Our last update from 2020 dives into the process of getting third-party insurtechs onboarded with HawkSoft’s Partner API, and the idea of HawkSoft as an ecosystem interconnected with complimentary third-party software and services.
If you're looking for latest updates on HawkSoft's Partner API, let’s dive in!
What is HawkSoft’s Partner API?
As defined by Carey Wodehouse writing for UpWork, an API is “an interface that software uses to access whatever currency it needs: data, server software, or other applications.” Basically, it offers connections between two different pieces of software. For more background on what this means, take a look at my explanation of what an API is. HawkSoft’s Partner API allows HawkSoft to pass client and policy data to other systems an agency uses.
HawkSoft is open to providing our APIs to certified partners. It is not, however, an Open API.
Agencies often want to know whether HawkSoft’s Partner API is an Open API. We do not call it an Open API because we do not allow anyone open access to its documentation or credentials. HawkSoft provides a Partner API only to vetted and approved technology vendors and insurance agencies. Our APIs provide access to personal identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive agency data. HawkSoft takes our role as a steward of your data seriously, so we don’t offer API access to partners until we can be sure they will likewise respect and have language in their terms and conditions that protect your agency data – even when that means forgoing the use of a popular buzzword or trend.
In short, HawkSoft is open to providing our APIs to certified partners. It is not, however, an Open API.
What have we accomplished with the Partner API so far?
HawkSoft introduced integration with our first API Partner, Insurance Agent App, in August 2019. Throughout 2020, HawkSoft worked with another 12 API Partners in releasing API-powered integrations to their software or platforms. In 2021, HawkSoft and our API Partners released another three integrations (with several finished by the end of 2021 but announced this month in 2022).
Why only one in 2019, but an explosion of 12 in 2021? And why another slowdown in 2021?
New integrations take time and effort to launch
As the timeline of update articles suggests, HawkSoft’s Partner API took time to develop. HawkSoft remains grateful to the assistance and collaboration we received from Insurance Agent App in deploying our first modern API-powered integration. As discussed in the 2020 update, the lessons learned paved the way for a uniform process to use with all the other partners eager to deploy integration with HawkSoft. HawkSoft is fortunate to have so many great allies in the insurance industry that were ready to fit our Partner API into their roadmaps that year.
Launching a single integration takes a coordinated effort between business, development, and marketing/sales teams; it includes internal development by our Partners, business negotiations, a required pilot test with a live agency, and co-marketing around the final launch.
Launching a single integration takes a coordinated effort between business, development, and marketing/sales teams. The process is so long, my editor actually cut it out here and set it aside for its own full blog post later this year. There are at least 11 major steps including internal development by our Partners, business negotiations, a required pilot test with a live agency, and co-marketing around the final launch. In short, it is a lot of work for both HawkSoft and (honestly more so) our Partners to launch each integration. I will always view it as a major accomplishment that HawkSoft and our Partners hit a cadence equating to one new API integration each month in 2020.
Existing partner integrations must be maintained
2021 presented a new learning opportunity: how do you maintain existing API Partner relationships while growing the program? I am the first to admit 2021 had a difficult learning curve. My personal goal was to repeat the success and growth of 2020 by adding an additional 12 partners. As adoption of integrations by our customers grew, so did the need to ensure those integrations were working and that our existing Partners were supported on both the technical and business (marketing, collaboration) front. I am proud of the new API Partners we did add in 2021, and happy with the growth in how many of our agency partners started to use those API integrations.
Some partners were added as Referral Partners
Not all the partners we added in 2021 fit under the umbrella of API partners, so we expanded into a new avenue for partnerships: Referral Partners. We added this new category of partners to include organizations that may not benefit from API integration but do have a valuable service to offer agencies. When HawkSoft trusts an organization and wants to collaborate with them, we seek to establish a Referral Partner relationship that benefits our customers by securing a preferred pricing tier in exchange for HawkSoft doing some co-marketing with the partner. In 2021, HawkSoft certified four new Referral Partner agreements and started important conversations with many other potential partners.
What are the goals for the Partner API in 2022?
HawkSoft’s Partner API is a key component of our push into the cloud. HawkSoft continues to view integrations with like-minded allies to insurance agencies as paramount to our approach to the industry. The most important goal this year is to introduce write-back functionality in the Partner API and transition it to being a two-way integration. As that goal will be achieved at the end of this month, we also intend to introduce a confident cadence of new API Partners each month. Education and co-marketing with our Partners will also be ramped up in 2022.
Two-Way Integration with Writable API
In Q4 of 2021, HawkSoft’s leadership team made the decision to reprioritize our development roadmap. This was based on considerable input from our agency and industry partners, who were asking for the ability for third-party sources to make logs and put attachments into HawkSoft. This “writable” functionality was always planned to be a component of HawkSoft 6 and our future in HawkSoft Cloud, but it was made clear to us that the sooner we introduced it, the better it would be for everyone.
To that end, HawkSoft is currently pilot testing our Writable API. An update to our Partner API Guide detailing the write-back calls has been issued to all current and pending API Partners. HawkSoft Version 5.4, which supports the two-way integration in our Partner API, is available to agencies now.
HawkSoft's Writable API will allow approved and certified API Partners to:
- Send log notes to a Client or a Client’s Policy
- Send log notes with Attachments to a Client or a Client’s Policy
- Create a suspense for any agency user, or the user in the Producer, CSR, or Agent 1-3 fields
Keep in mind that this functionality is now available on HawkSoft’s end; however, it may take some time for our API Partners to implement the needed updates on their end to make use of it. It is my personal goal to assist all existing API Partners to add writable functionality to our integrations over the coming months. Once partners have implemented this functionality, an agency will need to enable two-way API integration for the vendor within HawkSoft Marketplace if desired.
New API Partners in 2022
HawkSoft maintains a growing database of 137 third-party insurance technology providers. At the time of writing this update, 57 of those companies have talked to us or are actively seeking API integration. There is plenty in our pipeline to support a consistent flow of new API Partners in 2022. I expect a return to the pace of 2020, if not an acceleration thanks to the lessons learned in the last two years.
2022 will also see more introductions to Referral Partners. Not every problem can be solved with an API and these Referral Partners help to fill gaps in agency workflows, processes, or systems.
Introducing: PartnerTalk Live webinar series
In 2022, HawkSoft is introducing sister programming to our HawkTalk Live webinar series: PartnerTalk Live will be every Tuesday at 10 am Pacific / 1 pm Eastern and feature 30-minute conversations with our API and Referral Partners. HawkSoft found a lot of success both in HawkTalk Live, which often garners over 100 attendees, and in our former monthly Partner Webinar series. Our hope in increasing the frequency with PartnerTalk Live is that we better inform our audience of what opportunities exist with Partners and how integrations can help drive an agency’s success.
Introducing: dedicated Partner landing pages
In 2022, HawkSoft will enhance the wing of hawksoft.com dedicated to our Partners. Each API Partner and Referral Partner will have their own dedicated landing page that features contact information, a demo video of how the system or service integrates with HawkSoft, a description of features, and a clear statement on how the Partner handles data ownership. These pages will start to roll out over Q1 2022, with the goal of having all live Partners with their pages published by the end of the quarter.
How can I help as a HawkSoft customer? Or, how can I work with HawkSoft as a third-party?
If you have a piece of technology that is helping drive success at your agency, let HawkSoft know by sending an email to opportunities (at) hawksoft (dot) com. You can also encourage your account representative at that company to contact us via that same email.
HawkSoft prioritizes working with solutions that we share mutual customers with. Solving for integration between a service that is already benefiting an agency using HawkSoft takes priority over introducing a new third-party solution to our audience. HawkSoft is open to working with startups or vendors looking to start helping independent agencies, but our advice would be to find your first few HawkSoft agencies to help before tackling the Partner API.
Why is the Partner API so important to HawkSoft?
Before highlighting HawkSoft’s organizational motivation in supporting integration efforts, I want to note two personal philosophies that I carry into conversations as HawkSoft’s Director of Partner Integrations. First, the motto of my alma mater: “Not Unto Ourselves Alone Are We Born.” It is my personal belief that we do not exist to be solidary or individualistic. It is far truer and more important to recognize that humanity is a collective and we all have an inherent obligation to support the success of our peers. Second, the motto of my favorite doughnut shop Pip’s Original Doughnuts: “Community, Not Competition.” No industry I have ever been part of has felt like more of a community than the independent insurance industry. Put another way, a rising tide lifts all boats.
I am confident in sharing my perspective because I know that I stand on HawkSoft’s shoulders. HawkSoft has been a champion for the independent agent for over 25 years, and a friend to the industry for just as long. We are governed by core values that instruct us to have a sense of community, require us to do the right thing, and to work for the good of all. Integrations to our peers in the insurtech space puts those thoughts into action. As I tell each partner during our initial vetting calls, HawkSoft will do everything we can to support and work with companies that are operating for the benefit of independent agents and that share our values.
HawkSoft is governed by core values that instruct us to have a sense of community, do the right thing, and work for the good of all. Integrating with our peers in the Insurtech space puts those thoughts into action.
HawkSoft is doubling down on our belief in transparency in 2022. This process started with the launch of our HawkSoft 6 page and webinars, and will continue throughout the year as we provide open access to our journey to the cloud. HawkSoft’s Partner API is key to that journey and I hope this update helps shine a light on the exciting things to come. It is also a chance to be accountable to our agency partners, API and Referral Partners, and friends in the industry.
2022 is going to be a great year for integrations with HawkSoft and I look forward to sharing that journey with everyone.
Learn more about HawkSoft's API Partners
Get information about what each Partner does and find links for learning more.