CA Southern Africa has revealed the results of a survey with a view to quantifying the business value of digital transformation and the impact of Application Program Interfaces (APIs).

The global research, commissioned by CA Technologies and conducted by Coleman Parkes Research – “APIs: Building a Connected Business in the App Economy” – was conducted between May and June 2016, included CA’s Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, which includes South Africa. The audience profile spanned senior level business decision-makers, enterprise firms and 10 vertical markets. The latter included: automotive; energy/utilities; banking & financial services; healthcare; manufacturing; media/entertainment; public sector (national only); retail, telecommunications and transportation/logistics.

The overriding indications are that APIs are not only the building blocks for digital transformation, but effective API management is critical to the development and implementation of successful digital transformation strategies.

On average across EMEA, 90% of respondents surveyed have already adopted APIs as part of their digital transformation strategies. In South Africa 98% of companies surveyed are already using APIs for both internal and external use, with 44% of respondents saying they use APIs to drive revenue and 49% noting they use it for innovation and speed-to-market.

Overall, advanced users of API management across EMEA reported better results than basic users. In defining advanced versus basic, Coleman Parkes devised a maturity model that encompassed a range of capabilities from strategy and planning through to deployment and security, and allocated points for each category. Thus the higher the points scored across these areas the greater the maturity and advanced usage of API’s.
Andrea Lodolo, CTO, CA Southern Africa says: “It is interesting to note that across the EMEA region SA companies (along with Switzerland) have the highest adoption of APIs, using it extensively for partner enablement, innovation and speed to market, internal development and back-end integration, and even offering public API’s to developers through a self-service portal.”

The survey showed the effectiveness of API management as a competitive differentiator with results revealing that internationally there is no question that advanced use of API’s is paying off. This may well be attributable to the greater adoption of the use of advanced API management in those regions.

“However, companies in South Africa lagged well behind the EMEA norms, with less than one third (27%) expressing confidence in their ability to differentiate from competition through the use of APIs. But it should be noted that the majority of SA companies surveyed are still only implementing basic API management,” says Lodolo.

Another interesting statistic outlined the inhibitors to the adoption of API programs with skills shortage being the most significant in South Africa.

“This is closely followed by: time to develop APIs; lack of API tools integration; ability to scale and effectively secure APIs,” he says. “Inability to get buy-in from senior budget controllers coupled with failure to define business value, were also highlighted as constraints.”

The survey showed that most countries reported improvement in transaction volumes plus customer and partner satisfaction. Whereas SA by contrast lags well behind them all.

“It is also significant that SA companies have not seen the same IT cost reduction or business benefits that most countries in Europe have. I believe that it is a combination of the inhibitors previously cited and the limited use of advanced API management that is holding them back.”

He adds that the survey showed a positive 30% improvement in SA’s companies’ compliance audit failure rates.

Expanding on the security aspect of the findings Lodolo says that although SA was somewhat less concerned about this than most other EMEA countries it is still of huge importance, from identity attacks to poorly secured old APIs. “Those companies in EMEA with the higher adoption of advanced API management are twice as likely to have these security issues under control.”

Lodolo says there is no doubt that using APIs is an effective accelerator to market. “The benefits are acknowledged by all throughout EMEA, but it is clear that companies can still do a lot more to take full advantage of these benefits. In SA, although adoption appears quite high, companies have much to do and learn about acquiring the full spin off benefits of advanced API management,” says Lodolo.