The strategic positioning and configuration of national mapping organisations as enablers of economic and social growth in South Africa

Denner M. ; Oosthuizen H. (2008)

Article

This paper explores the transferability and application of business-driven strategic thinking to that of a public sector context, namely national mapping organisations. These organisations exist throughout the world because the economies of the world require geospatial information to support economic and social growth. As such their strategic positioning within government is of prime importance. In South Africa, however, there is a paucity of knowledge in this regard and consequently triggered the research which forms the basis of this paper. A macro-environmental analysis suggests significant growth opportunities for the South African geospatial industry, fuelled by a micro-industry borne out of the 2010 Soccer World Cup event. A profile description of the characteristics of consequence, boundaries between the private and public the industry and expected changes reflect a large industry which is expanding at a rapid rate but is fragmented and displays a complex network-system of inter and intra-industry relationships. As such it is attracting increasing numbers of competitors but, as an industry, appears to be slow to adjust to technological advancement. An internal analysis of the value chain of the National Mapping Organisation (NMO), the single most important player in the local public sector geospatial industry, reveals significant value creation in its in- house activities. However, the external deconstructed operations, outbound logistics and procurement processes are not allowing the organisation to realise any benefits from efficiencies it may introduce. Key to achieving efficiencies lies in the human capital, which by all accounts, it is failing to retain. Future strategic thrusts for the NMO have been identified by constructing a SWOT model and by analysing its relative competitive strength. These thrusts were found to concentrate on actions and themes related to staff, communication, marketing, general management, production (cost and capacity) and product (quality and innovation). Interpreting and applying those themes on an interorganisational basis will enable the NMO to best position itself in the industry. In this regard sufficient related strategic fit is evident between the value chains of the NMO, The Satellite Application Centre (SAC) and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), enabling the NMO to leverage on the sales, marketing and distribution activities of SAC and the financial leveraging capabilities of Stats SA. This paper has presented an example of how delivering an efficient and effective service delivery may be hampered through the inappropriate strategic configuration of South African public sector activities. It is therefore suggested that the government revisits the strategic positioning of public sector organisations engaged in the provision of geospatial information.

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