API Webhooks Usher New Frontier for Real-Time, Automated Data Transactions

02 February, 2021

The last time you asked for something – such as your morning coffee or a table at a restaurant – you put in your request and waited to be told when it was ready. Imagine your frustration, though, if you had to check back with the barista or host every few minutes to see if what you asked for was ready. Beyond being burdensome, the process would be downright inefficient for both you and the business.

If we don’t operate this way in daily life, why shouldn’t we carry the same, real-time expectations on the web? While application programming interfaces (APIs) have brought us a long way in terms of data exchange between applications, API webhooks allow us to take these capabilities a step further and ultimately, demystify data readiness. Let’s begin by considering the differences between the two.

On their own, APIs open a line of communication between applications that starts with a request and follows with a response. In practice, this could be a lender sending a request to a third party to check the status of a lock request. The third party may respond that the data is or is not ready. An API opens this line of communication, but the process requires a manual action on the lender’s end to stay up-to-date on status.

On the other hand, APIs with the power of webhooks don’t require a request to initiate the exchange of information. Instead, they allow users to access real-time information as it happens – what we often call event-based notifications. In many ways, webhooks function as reverse APIs. In our former example, an API webhook could have saved the lender valuable time and effort by automatically pushing the lock request data to him or her as soon as it was available.

API webhooks open a new realm of possibilities for workflow automation – something we all should be considering and implementing into our businesses to remain competitive. Of the many benefits to using an API webhooks platform, there are a few that I consider to be key.

An API webhooks platform:

  • Can assist in reasonable development and timeline planning by providing a streamlined integration method
  • Offers the flexibility for you to choose which pieces of a platform you want to use, making it a great option for those building custom portals or custom LOS integrations
  • Gives you additional avenues for even more workflow automation – specifically, the benefits of using notifications of specific actions to fire off additional workflow processes

As part of Black Knight’s ongoing commitment to investing in innovation that helps our clients achieve their goals, we recently released a webhooks component of our already advanced Optimal Blue API platform. Designed to help with both workflow automation and integration efforts, the webhooks platform works in conjunction with Optimal Blue APIs. In its initial launch, the platform features two components: documentation and a self-service configuration dashboard. The documentation page provides details about all events available for subscription, with the corresponding business definition and the complete schema payload for each event. The self-serve dashboard can be configured based on personal preferences and can maintain specific notification URLs.

Regardless of the size of your business or where you may be on your API journey, don’t underestimate the benefits that webhooks can provide in terms of saved time and effort. Seamless automation is the future of secondary markets, and API webhooks will continue to prove an important tool to get us there.