The Spear of the Nation incident had done jolly well for the adverting industry and kept the online channels extremely hot during the past week, reported online reputation management company BrandsEye.

The satirical painting at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg by artist Brett Murray, representing the president with his genitals exposed – which was smeared with paint on Tuesday – generated R25 million worth of advertising.

Chief executive Taryn Walker said the figures were “extremely high”.

It was worth 10 times more than the R2m worth of coverage during the ANC Youth League disciplinary hearing, she reported. Altogether 108 million people were reached during the online debate on the painting.

It just shows that a dab of paint can do wonders for internet communication.

Competitiveness

Cope MP Mafemane Wilson Makhubela asked Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies whether South Africa had lost its global competitiveness in the manufacturing sector as a result of the rising costs of production, raw materials, taxation and a lack of skills.

If not, what was the position of the department in this regard? If so, what were the relevant details in respect of retaining current productivity and employment levels in manufacturing and what were the coherent strategies to reposition selected industries as key champions to attract investment and create jobs?

He also asked Davies what incentives were devised to tap into the R520 billion that was available in corporate deposits in South African banks.

Nimrod Zalk, deputy director-general on behalf of the minister, said that the 2012/13 Industrial Policy Action Plan (Ipap) faced a number of constraints.

These included the level and volatility of the currency and the sharply escalating administered prices, especially electricity and port charges.

The constraints also included high and rising input costs, particularly with regard to key inputs such as steel products, plastics and polymers, where high prices were driven by the behaviour of firms with a monopoly “or dominant market share”.

In addition there were inefficiencies in the ports and logistics systems, there was a shortage and mismatch of skills at certain levels in key sectors of the manufacturing sector, and there were low levels of profitability in the manufacturing sector, leading to the high cost and the allocation of capital relative to South Africa’s main trading partners, “with very low and sometimes falling levels of fixed investment in the manufacturing sector”.

Zalk said Ipap was “a coherent and integrated government strategy” to prevent industrial decline and build the competitiveness of those domestic manufacturing sectors which had witnessed declines in competitiveness and which had high potential.

“The range of transversal interventions and sector specific action plans set out in the Ipap, address the critical problems and constraints set out… with respect to industrial financing and incentives, developmental trade policies, competition policy, skills, innovation and technology intervention and sector specific actions plans.”

The range of policy instruments and incentive packages set out in Ipap, “including the recently announced Manufacturing Competitiveness Upgrading Programme are designed to enable and crowd in private sector investment into manufacturing”. That is all as clear as a bell now, is it not?

Technology

What event or incident will have the biggest impact on organisations in the coming years? Globalisation? People skills? Market factors?

According to chief executives polled in a new study published by IBM yesterday, the biggest impact on organisations will be technology over the next three years.

This prediction has emerged for the first time since IBM began conducting the poll in 2004.

The results are not rocket science material, but provide a snapshot of extraneous issues keeping business leaders awake at night, besides their company performance.

More than 1 700 chief executives and senior public sector leaders in 64 countries and 18 industries globally were polled for the report, titled “Leading through connections – Insights from the global chief executive officer study”.

A surprise for the interviewers was technology’s expected impact.

The chief executives see potential for technology to connect employees, customers and partners in new ways, “fundamentally changing how organisations innovate and grow”, IBM said in a statement.

Today, only 16 percent of chief executives are using social business platforms to connect with customers. This number is expected to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

Social media is expected to gain more prevalence than websites, channel partners, call centres, advisory group and traditional media for timely, relevant and individualised interaction.

More than 53 percent of chief executives planned to use technology to facilitate greater partnering and collaboration with external organisations, and 52 percent intended to promote better international collaboration through technology.

Ericsson’s City Life study, also released yesterday, provides at least one reason why companies – especially those selling consumer goods – should take social media seriously.

The survey of about 100 million people in 13 major cities globally concludes that 40 percent of people in cities use smartphones and rely on cellphone information to solve day-to-day issues.

The average city dweller spends 150 minutes on a weekday using his or her phone, of which 45 minutes is spent socialising online.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Donwald Pressly and Asha Speckman.