Thailand on a fast track in digital transformation?

It has been forecasted that Thailand would be expecting 400 million connected devices by 2020 and that IoT spending could hit BT 325 billion by the same period. This is going to be a 162-fold increase compared with the BT 2 billion spent in 2014. In a business research published in February this year, it predicted digital transformation would add an estimated of BT 282 billion, which is equivalent to an annual growth of 0.4 percent, to Thailand’s GDP by 2021. In another research published by Microsoft and IDC Asia Pacific, about 4 percent of Thailand’s GDP in 2017 was generated from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies. These digital technologies include mobility, cloud, IoT and artificial intelligence.

Governmental/Public sector digital transformation in Thailand

In 2016, the Thailand government approved of a 3-year Digital Government Development Plan (2016-2018). Developed by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) and in collaboration with the Electronic Government Agency (EGA), this plan was then advanced to a 5-year Digital Government Development Plan (2017-2021). This plan works toward deploying digital transformation in every sector/area including agriculture, tourism, education, healthcare, investment, disaster prevention, and public administration. To achieve the objective of driving economic and social progress, the government understands that digital technologies need to be incorporated into public services. The first 5 practical steps to kick-start this 5-year plan for the government and its agencies include

1.      Smart Service, making online services available to the public that plans to adopt less paper-based documentation.

2.      Government Smart Kiosk, sharing verified related to public services with the public.

3.      Biz Portal, a search engine for businesses and entrepreneurs to facilitate business administrative activities.

4.      Farmer One, a portal that provides farmers with information such as land tenure, land utilization and details related to the sector and responsible agencies involved.

5.      Thailand Digital Government Academy, promoting the development of digital knowledge of government authorities and public officials.


Back in February this year, Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) of Thailand and the World Bank agreed to join hands to promote awareness of IoT in Thailand and to promote the adoption of digital transformation in both public and private sectors. In the seminar where they announced the partnership, DEPA’s President and CEO said that “The Internet of Things is not just a hype. We view it as one of the most exciting pieces of technology of the decade, which will help catalyse digital transformation in public and private sectors in Thailand. Therefore, we need to raise awareness of IoT in all sectors by providing a networking forum so we all can meet and discuss opportunities offered by this technology as well as ways to allow IoT work for Thais.” In fact, in World Bank’s recent publication, progress was examined in governments which have IoT incorporated in their functions. Many governments were shown to be eager to use IoT to serve their citizens better in spite of the challenges of taking projects beyond the pilot stage. Although Thailand was not one of the countries being examined, but it is evident, with current on-going initiatives and promotional activities, that the Thai Government is extremely focused in laying the “digital foundation” right for their goal of “Thailand 4.0”.

If you are interested to know more details about what exactly the Thai Government and its agencies have done to implement digital transformation for the public, stay tuned for Asia IoT Business Platform Thailand 2018, co-hosted with DEPA at InterContinental Bangkok on 24-25 July.

Private sector digital transformation in Thailand

Thai Deputy Prime Minister stated in 2017 that the Government was in full support of developing a digital economy; to harness data for analysing work and decision-making and to attract both domestic and foreign investors. Specifically, the Thai government is actively working to promote “Thailand 4.0”, a new economic model aiming at pulling Thailand out of the middle-income trap and pushing it up to the high-income range. DEPA is the main agency in Thailand which supports the reformation to Thailand 4.0 and that “digital entrepreneurs supported by the depa are expected to be a major mechanism for transforming the middle-income country into ASEAN’s digital economy hub after all”. We can see that private sector enterprises in Thailand are realizing the potential benefits of digital transformation, but may experience difficulties (especially SMEs) transitioning their business into the digital economy phase. This phase is one that enterprises in the private sectors absolutely cannot afford to miss.


To encourage and to drive understanding of digital technology adoption in business operations, DEPA helps the private sector in 5 main ways

1.      Developed a CMS platform for Thai entrepreneurs to help them understand selling potential, expanding online trading channels, distributing products to e-market place.

2.      Organizes training programs and seminars to provide knowledge/understanding and to raise more awareness in relevant intellectual property as this has been identified as one of the important items in the Thailand 4.0 “check-list”.

3.      Provides financial assistance to innovation and technology entrepreneurs.

4.      Helps entrepreneurs to register software and digital content to “magnify outcome, analyse and seek promotion measures for entrepreneurs”.

5.      Promotes knowledge and experience sharing between technology developers, industrial entrepreneurs and local and foreign investors, to help transform traditional business operations into digitalized businesses.

In addition to encouraging digitized businesses in SMEs, we are seeing significant transformational changes in large private enterprises too. More of them, from the logistics, manufacturing, finance industries for example, are starting to move towards or have already moved towards using technology applications in their operations and processes to reinforce competitiveness, to provide customers with better experience, to be able to retrieve important data for business forecasting and decision making, and to improve productivity and profitability. Let’s taking a few Thai large enterprises digital transformation case studies for examples.

PTT makes use of big data to enhance services in Thailand. They added F&B options in their stations because insights made them realize that customers wanted F&B and groceries options at the stations. In the case of PTT loyalty card, while the customers get reward points, the company uses smart analytics to analyse the 150,000 daily transactions to understand customer behaviour and preferences. A second good example of digital transformation in private sector is from Siam City Cement. The company upgraded its applications and infrastructure and the outcomes of this transformation were a reformed IT systems, reduction of costs, identification and solving of manufacturing challenges, improved workflow and workforce efficiency. A third example is PEA, the country’s largest electric power company. In order for the company to keep up with the pace of smart grid advancements, PEA revamped its old network and brought new services and technologies and also customized migration tools.

If you are interested to know what other private enterprises are doing regarding digital transformation and hope to understand and learn more about local enterprise digital transformation experiences, you will have the chance to do so at Asia IoT Business Platform Thailand 2018, co-hosted with DEPA at InterContinental Bangkok on 24-25 July. 

Lynne Yang

5 June 2018

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