By Kenny Hendricks - Director of Partner Integrations, HawkSoft
2022 was a significant year for HawkSoft and our efforts to embrace an interconnected ecosystem of insurance technology. We introduced two-way API integration, migrated a significant number of our API Partners onto the new technology, grew our Solution Partner program, and expanded the team supporting Partners. As we sprint into 2023, I want to take a moment to highlight those successes from last year and outline our focuses for HawkSoft’s Partner programs for this year.
In this article:
- Successes in 2022
- Focus in 2023
Successes in 2022
Introduction of two-way API integration
In the first quarter of 2022, HawkSoft released an upgrade to our partner API that introduced write capabilities – the power for certified third parties to add Log Notes (documentation, sometimes called “activity notes” in other systems) to HawkSoft. Seven of our existing API Partners made the upgrade in 2022 and now benefit from data traveling out of and into HawkSoft, with more in progress.
All new API Partners are onboarded directly into the two-way API world now as well. The first to clear this process end-to-end was Ascend, leveraging our Partner API to fuel their unique blend of Agency Bill accounting and Premium Finance technology. At the time of writing this, four other potential API Partners are in pilot rollout of their two-way API integration to HawkSoft. We don’t talk about things before they’re done (a lesson I learned the hard way, but hey some mistakes will land you a job like Director of the Thing You Weren’t Supposed to Talk About), but keep an eye on our News page and the monthly HawkTalk newsletter for upcoming Partner announcements.
Maturing Solution Partner program
In 2022, HawkSoft changed the name of our “Referral Partner” category of the program to convey its purpose more accurately. Now labeled as “Solution Partners,” this category covers third parties that don’t use our Partner API but still offer a service or solution that addresses specific pain points experienced by independent insurance agents.
We made this change to make it clear that we highlight these partners because we feel confident in the products and services they offer our customers, not due to referral incentives (gratitude to former HawkSoft User Group board member Mike Tonsetic for suggesting the new name). HawkSoft specifically negotiates with each Solution Partner to secure a preferred pricing or benefit to a HawkSoft customer if they also choose to do business with a Solution Partner.
The ranks of our Solution Partner program expanded in 2022 from an initial three to the ten present as of this publication (with a number in active negotiation). These relationships have produced a lot of educational webinars and blog content, in addition to efficiencies discovered in novel applications of HawkLink for Google Chrome. Our Solution Partners may not yet use the Partner API (as it exists today), but they’re still bringing a wealth of value to independent agencies.
Making connections within the community
HawkSoft’s Partner programs operate under a mission to support the technology and services that make independent agencies successful. From a vantage point exposed to nearly 200 distinct insurtech companies, HawkSoft can connect dots and people in the pursuit of better solutions for agents.
For example, HawkSoft developed a close working relationship with the app marketplace and service aggregator InsuranceGig in 2022. Through our collaboration we have streamlined workflows involving commercial lines comparative raters Semsee and Talage (with more coming in 2023). While competitors on paper, Semsee and Talage both saw the benefit brought to independent agents through a community approach. HawkSoft and InsuranceGig have a few similar collaborations in the works that look to solve long-existing pain points – I look forward to being able to share more in the coming months.
Hiring a Technical Coordinator
The last success of 2022 to highlight is the addition of a Technical Coordinator for Partner Integrations. The growth of the Partner programs in 2022 pushed the limits of what I could meaningfully support alone and drove home the need to grow the team. At the end of 2022 I participated in one of HawkSoft’s most time-honored traditions: poaching from our farm team, Product Support. Coming into 2023, our larger Partner Integrations team was equipped to burn the candle at both ends: focusing on continued growth of the program while remaining responsive to the needs of all the great Partners already helping make life better for independent agents.
Focus in 2023
Preparation for HawkSoft 6’s paradigm shift
HawkSoft is achieving an API-driven, Cloud-enabled management system with the upcoming release of HawkSoft 6, and this will involve a new frontier for API connectivity with our partners. All eyes within HawkSoft are focused on the launch of HawkSoft 6 as the goal of 2023 – and Partner Integrations is no different.
HawkSoft 6 will introduce a new API option for Partners. Our ambition is to start proactively engaging all API Partners on HawkSoft 6 APIs around mid-2023, once it's ready for testing (Partners can expect communications on this to begin around the close of Q1). The existing Partner API will remain available on prior versions of HawkSoft for an extended period of time, in parallel with the HawkSoft 6 API. Agencies that start with HawkSoft on our HawkSoft 6 platform will enjoy the same API-powered connectivity to Partners as existing agencies today. We're excited to celebrate the next evolution of HawkSoft with a new evolution of the Partner API and the exciting future opportunities it may afford.
A common axiom in HawkSoft’s Product Support team is “teach a person to fish,” directing our Product Support Reps to couch solutions in education and share the foundational knowledge that helped resolve the matter at hand. As an increasing number of support requests touch on our API Partners, our other primary focus for Partner Integrations going into 2023 will be education. This includes increased internal and external education, as well as collaboration with the HawkSoft User Group (HUG).
As highlighted above, HawkSoft now has a dedicated Technical Coordinator for Partner Integrations. The role has an explicit directive to find effective ways to spread knowledge on our API and Solution Partners across all departments at HawkSoft, prioritizing Product Support and Sales but welcoming everyone else to learn with us.
We will also explore new or expanded methods of sharing our understanding on perspectives with independent agents. A project, long in gestation, is now underway to greatly expand the information available on each of our API Partners and Solution Partners. Our goal is to launch a dedicated website page for each of our Partners in the coming months. These pages will feature video demos showing how our systems work together, descriptions of key features, links to relevant webinar recordings, transparent statements on each partner’s view of data ownership, and other technical details (such as which data fields are utilized by an API Partner).
PartnerTalk is undergoing a change in 2023 as well, shifting from a bi-weekly webinar series into a podcast. The PartnerTalk podcast will feature representatives from HawkSoft, a Partner, and a mutual customer (an independent agent) discussing how the Partner’s solution is bringing value to the agency. The throughline for both of these projects is in demystifying insurtech options. HawkSoft is seeking to promote consistent levels of information so that you can make informed decisions.
Collaboration with HUG
HawkSoft has long worked closely with members of the HawkSoft User Group (HUG) in evaluating and pilot testing new Partner integrations. During 2022, collaboration started on a guide to help independent agents more consistently evaluate their technology partners. Many readers saw an early draft as part of a presentation at HUG Regional Meetings across the US last fall. It will also be the backbone of a session at the 2023 National Conference in Texas, with the goal of publishing “A Guide for Evaluating Solution Partners” as a white paper by the end of April (to coincide with the conference).
Gap analysis and refinement
HawkSoft currently has 18 API Partners (with 8 being 2-way) and 10 Solution Partners, with more in active negotiation. A majority of our API Partners exist in the CRM / marketing automation / sales automation space (it’s hard enough to distinguish what each of those tags mean, so we’ll lump them together), while many of the latter are in financial services. These categories emerged as dominant because of how ubiquitous and necessary they are to modern agencies. They are not, however, the only verticals of insurance technology. For certain areas, HawkSoft will look to connect with missing players that have yet to evaluate or join our API Partner program. We’re also looking at the ecosystem to see what gaps in agency workflows aren't supported by our existing Partners.
Transparently, HawkSoft is also working out how best to address a consequence of our open-arms approach to partnerships. For those verticals that are well saturated, we see a certain level of decision paralysis among our customers – the array of options that all connect or work well with HawkSoft can be overwhelming.
We don’t yet know how to reconcile a solution to this with our desire to always enable technology that is benefiting even a single independent agency. HawkSoft is exploring using minimum thresholds of known mutual customers to determine renewing partnerships, or user reviews to qualify partners for continued participation in our programs. No plans are final, and this is admittedly a very complicated knot to untie (if this was a YouTube video, this is the point where I’d ask you to give us your ideas in the comments below – which you absolutely should do).
Looking ahead in 2023
Every area of HawkSoft is invigorated and excited about the opportunities available in 2023. The Partner programs, both API Partners and Solution Partners, show no signs of slowing down this year. As we build on the successes of 2022, we are also bringing new resources to bare that will equip us to proactively meet the opportunities created through HawkSoft 6’s evolution of our insurance platform. This update on the state of our partner API and related programs marks our first major piece of new education, and we look forward to sharing more throughout the year in our effort to expand the understanding of what is possible when working with HawkSoft and our valued Partners.
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