How IBM is boosting AI, automation for SMEs across Thailand

IBM is pushing its artificial intelligence (AI) and multi-cloud tech services as part of an effort to help small businesses in Thailand drive forward their digital transformation agendas as they recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small medium enterprises () in the Thai kingdom had been ramping up their digital adoption strategies in recent years, with the Thai government encouraging the application of digital innovation into traditional business models and emphasizing the development of the country's entrepreneurship ecosystem by providing access to THB44 billion (US$1.4 billion) in funding for startups, businesses, and public agencies that were working on digital transformation initiatives.

Digital growth had been gradual in Thailand until the coronavirus scare broke out earlier this year, and local businesses have been placing greater importance on adopting the right technologies, with business consultancy Accenture saying that video conferencing, risk management, cloud services, and digital transformation have all drawn interest from corporate entities in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

AI and cloud data tools also help to provide insight on shifting consumer attitudes and help cut down the need for physical interaction during the pandemic, but Accenture's 2020 report We, The Post-Digital People: Can your enterprise survive the ‘tech-clash'? also found that Thai businesses are increasingly concerned about the scale of digital disruption across industries, with 90% of Thai IT executives pointing out that rapid tech advancement and innovation would disrupt their respective industries.

Organizations have had to readjust their priorities and business goals, and the managing director of IBM Thailand says that SMEs need to diversify their revenue sources while maintaining operations at close to peak efficiencies, and this is helping to drive digital take-up. “Over the past four months, Covid-19 has accelerated Thailand's digital transformation, which was earlier expected to take shape over three years,” said Patama Chantaruck, who is also vice-president for Indochina expansion for IBM Thailand.

IBM Thailand is looking to support these needs by providing its multi-cloud management services to businesses, helping save operational costs from IT infrastructure by 38%, and speeding up the new product development time by 44%, according to Chantaruck.

She says IT services giant IBM can also modernize legacy applications to run on cloud or support mobile development, which can aid firms in garnering repeat revenue, and that IBM also tapping into AI and cybersecurity services to reach out to more SME customers.

IBM Thailand is aware of the potential of AI in automating processes and in improving preventive maintenance tasks, with Chantaruck citing IBM's automation and AI software which can automate repetitive and dangerous tasks, allowing human employees to focus on higher-return work.

“Employee productivity could increase 30-40% because of this,” she said.

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