South Africa's series win over Sri Lanka was "a starting point" for a year of demanding tours, captain Graeme Smith said on Friday.
Speaking after South Africa clinched the series with a ten wicket win on the fourth day of the third and final Test at Newlands, Smith said: "We have a tough year with away series against New Zealand, England and Australia.
"The way we won here was important."
Thilan Samaraweera made 115 not out, his second century of the series, as Sri Lanka managed to avoid an innings defeat. They were bowled out for 342, leaving South Africa needing only two runs to win the match and the series.
The first delivery of the final innings was a no-ball by Dhammika Prasad which Alviro Petersen pushed past the bowler for the winning run.
Smith said South Africa had produced their best bowling performance of the summer in bowling out Sri Lanka twice in successive innings despite minimal help from a placid pitch.
"We bowled well as a unit, each guy was able to create pressure. There's a lot to build on for the year to come."
The South African captain said his team's shock defeat in the second Test in Durban, which left them needing to win at Newlands to secure their first home series win in four series, had been "a wake-up call in terms of the standards we need to produce as a team".
Man of the match Jacques Kallis, playing in his 150th Test, finished off the Sri Lanka innings to claim bowling figures of three for 35.
He also equalled two South African Test records by taking four catches in the innings and six in the match after making a career-best 224 in South Africa's first innings.
Kallis, 36, said he wanted to continue playing for as long as he was playing well.
"One goal I still want to try and achieve is to be part of a team that wins the World Cup," he said.
"Whether I can get there time will tell. I'm going to take it year by year. No-one's got a right or privilege to play in this Proteas side. You've got to put in the performances."
The next World Cup is in 2015 when Kallis will be nearing his 40th birthday.
Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said he was disappointed with the way his team had played.
"As a team we have to take the blame.
"After the Durban game we came here with a lot of confidence but we didn't start well with the bowling department. We talked about a lot of things coming into this Test match, about bowling line and length, but it didn't work."
Dilshan said he did not regret his decision to send South Africa in, despite the hosts piling up 580 for four declared with Alviro Petersen and AB de Villiers scoring centuries alongside Kallis' double hundred.
"We made early breakthroughs. If we had caught Jacques Kallis they would have been 60 for three and we would have put pressure on the South African batting unit. After that Kallis and AB de Villiers batted really well and we didn't bat well."
Dilshan said Sri Lanka needed to strive for consistency in both batting and bowling.
"We don't have a strong domestic structure," he said.
"It is very difficult to find good cricketers. We have to correct our domestic structure. Coming from our club cricket to international cricket is a huge difference."
Samaraweera and vice-captain Angelo Mathews put on 142 for the fifth wicket and prevented South Africa from taking a wicket before lunch.
But the introduction of the second new ball, which was taken one over before lunch, brought a breakthrough when Vernon Philander trapped Mathews leg before wicket for 63 in the fourth over after the interval with a ball which kept low.
Philander followed up by having Dinesh Chandimal caught at second slip by Jacques Kallis.
The lower order batsmen went for their shots but none looked likely to last long.