A global study commissioned by CA Technologies, “APIs and the Digital Enterprise: From Operational Efficiency to Digital Disruption”, shows that use of application programming interfaces (APIs) is more widespread among UK organisations than in any other European country. UK companies are also ahead of their European counterparts in having the key capabilities in place to support comprehensive API success in the application economy.
UK organisations report widespread adoption of APIs, which allow apps and applications to access data and services across a network, including over the internet. Some 71 percent of UK organisations are using APIs to build mobile applications and 67 percent to build web applications. In addition, 71 percent of UK organisations use APIs to enable third-party developers and 72 percent to incorporate third-party services.
When it comes to current and future drivers for this API activity UK organisations quote faster delivery of new apps (81 percent), the delivery of new/better customer experiences (80 percent) and extending digital reach (77 percent).
“APIs are the essential ingredients of success in the application economy, providing the capabilities to bring systems together, secure these integrations, deliver better customer experiences faster and capitalise on new digital opportunities. However, simply having them is not enough. Like products, they have to be properly created, managed, monitored and secured. If they aren’t, problems can quickly occur, as we saw in recent connected car incidents or the Snapchat breach two years ago,” says Ian Clark, Sr Director, Solution Sales, CA Technologies.
A work in progress
Despite widespread use of APIs, few respondents felt they had overcome some important API challenges. Only 33 percent of UK organisations have put the right infrastructure and tooling in place to support APIs, while just 31 percent have found the right suppliers to provide skills and advice. Barely a quarter (28 percent) have formulated an API strategy and set objectives, showing that more work needs to be done in driving efficient use of APIs across the organisation.
The view that overcoming API challenges is a work in progress is supported by the API Capability Index, a segmentation created based on feedback from the IT respondents who participated in this study.
The survey participants were asked whether they had 10 API-enabling capabilities in place, which were grouped into four categories: Lifecycle Support, Core Security, Run-time Environment and Operational Management. The responses were assigned a numeric value, scored accordingly and broken into three groups based on how well they were prepared to support APIs: ‘Advanced’, ‘Basic’ and ‘Limited’.
In the UK, 41 percent of respondents are at an ‘Advanced’ stage of supporting APIs, the highest figure anywhere in Europe. By contrast, 26 percent of Italian organisations are at an advanced stage, 23 percent of French ones and 22 percent of German ones. Some 27 percent of UK organisations report having ‘Limited’ support for APIs—the lowest figure in Europe.
Advanced API capability drives strong security
Looking at the pan-European research findings, there is a strong correlation between the level of API-enabling capability and the benefits achieved from API-related investments. On average, advanced adopters at a pan-European level are two to three times more likely to be citing significant benefits than their peers at the other extreme with limited capability.
In addition, European organisations with advanced API capability are better able to apply strong security by default. The study shows that 74 percent of organisations with ‘Advanced’ API enabling capability have implemented API security measures to protect against ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks that intercept legitimate transactions, compared to 21 percent of ‘Limited’ capability users.
Finally, 63 percent of European organisations with ‘Advanced’ API capability have been able to deliver an improved customer experience versus only 23 percent of ‘Limited’ users. Similarly, 62 percent of ‘Advanced’ users have experienced faster delivery of revenue-enhancing apps versus 25 percent of ‘Limited’ users. And in terms of extending digital reach—a critical component for success in the application economy—almost three times as many ‘Advanced’ users as ‘Limited’ users (57 percent versus 21 percent) have seen this benefit.
Charlie Ewen, Director of Information Technology at the Met Office, said: “APIs are crucial for any forward-looking organisation operating in the application economy. We recently announced that we will be using APIs to underpin the next generation of the Met Office’s services, allowing us to safely share data and applications with users, partners, collaborators and platforms. The result is the rapid innovation of new mobile and cloud-based services by us and others, and effective management of the services that underpin them.
“Being able to effectively manage and serve APIs is a crucial part of our strategy to become an underpinning platform for weather and climate related data, information and content. The underpinning services need to be managed effectively and efficiently so that new services in areas such as energy, retail, aviation and others can be developed to help the economy to prosper. Much of this will be in the mobile app space and we expect to see this develop rapidly as the APIs become available.”