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Agency automation in three easy letters: API

Remember back in the 90s when the plug-and-play was the new big deal in personal computing? You could buy a laptop, for example, and then all the peripherals or software tools you wanted to add to it were immediately compatible and ready to literally (remember wires?) or figuratively plug in. And if over time you need a bigger hard drive or better video card, just pop it in and you’re on your way. It’s expected now, but at the time it was a big step forward.

Hold that thought, and now picture the technology challenges faced by the typical insurance agency today.

They know they must automate to compete with digital rivals, operate efficiently, capture opportunities, and deliver the customer experience today’s policyholders unequivocally demand.

They also know that the traditional AMS is nowhere near enough anymore. Agencies need tech to automate marketing, ePayments, email and text. They need chatbots and self-service portals, AI and remote reporting. And it all needs to be one unified platform, not a franken-system of software that requires IT expertise to integrate, update, and build on over time.

Legacy AMS platforms often provide a basic toolset, but they don’t make it easy to add in new technologies as needs change and grow. But building a system in-house or hiring a consultant to do so isn’t in the cards for the majority of agencies (and frankly not a wise expenditure for the rest).

What agencies need is one tech stack with agency-specific functionality that is built on an open platform ready for integration with business apps like ePayments. It all has to be easy to deploy and effortless to maintain,and - most important - it must be easy to test out and add in new tools. In other words, it needs to be plug and play.

Integrations are the new plug and play for tech-forward agencies

The concept of on-demand integrations isn’t a new one, but it’s just getting started in the insurance world. Salesforce has the model down pat, offering a single technology hub that users  can build upon and add to in a modular way by integrating business apps from partners ranging from Slack to Mailchimp and QuickBooks.

Using a Salesforce-based AMS platform, agencies can do the same, integrating tools they need to create an end-to-end system for their unique needs. Tools like Mogli, Xilo, or ePayPolicy, which allows agents to collect and track digital payments, can all be incorporated into a Salesforce-based AMS.

The advantages of tech via integration

You get best of breed tools

Out-of-the-box integration allows for a best-of-breed tech strategy, where instead of each agency or each AMS platform creating its own e-payments app,for example, the agency can plug in one that has already been perfected by e-payments experts.

What’s more, an open API approach using a platform like Salesforce provides agents with an entire candy store of new apps and  capabilities they can seamlessly add into their agency’s toolbox.

It’s all SaaS

Another advantage of this model as it enables an agency’s entire business ecosystem to be hosted on the cloud and procured via SaaS. The agency’s platform and each component app stay evergreen and up-to-date, brokers can access them on any device at any time, and all the headaches related to things like hardware, disaster recovery, PCI compliance, and nonstop availability are taken care of and wrapped into one monthly subscription.

Innovation comes faster and cheaper

There are also development advantages to working on top of Salesforce, Oracle or Microsoft. Developers and even larger IT-savvy agencies can easily develop on these platforms using code-free, drag-and-drop tools that speed innovation and bring new capabilities to the market faster. If an agent wants a new feature, they don’t have to sink thousands of dollars or a year of development time into something that will work with their outdated legacy system.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, everything you need is already in the cloud

The cultural and operational hurdles to becoming a digitized agency of the future are formidable enough without adding major IT projects to the mix. In the age of APIs, open architectures, and platforms like SalesForce designed for modularity, there is no reason for any agency to be shelling out to redevelop existing software.

Start with an open-framework AMS with the out-of-the box insurtech capabilities you need, then plug in the other business apps and customer features you want over time.

Don’t build, don’t cobble, and whatever you do, don’t live with outdated systems. It’s time to automate, so just integrate.