U.S. firm IDC says Thai digital shift will add billions to GDP

Thailand’s adoption of digital technologies will result in over $9 billion added to annual economic growth, or an additional 0.4 percent to gross domestic product, according to a study released last week by United States-based International Data Corporation (IDC) Financial Insights on behalf of Microsoft, as a Japanese electronics maker said that demand for robotics in Thailand is surging among businesses.

The IDC study “Unlocking The Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia-Pacific,” commissioned by Microsoft said that 4 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year came from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies, such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI).

It predicts rapid growth in the digital contribution to the economy. By 2021, the report forecast, digital products and services will account for 40 percent of GDP. The report surveyed 1,560 business decision makers in 15 Asia-Pacific countries, with 100 respondents from Thailand.

“Higher profit margin, greater productivity, improved customer advocacy and increased revenue from existing and new products and services are the main benefits of digital transformation in Thailand,” said Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand.

Thais who responded to the survey said they believe that 95 percent of jobs will be transformed in the next three years because of digital technologies, while 65 percent of today’s jobs will evolve to higher value roles, or re-skilled in order to meet the needs of the digital age.

That raises the question of whether Thailand will have the human resources or types of workers to fill those jobs. Recognizing that challenge, representatives of four groups of institutes of higher learning met last week with executives from the Federation of Thai Industries and announced the formation of a special committee to address the issue.

The institutions participating in the committee are the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT), the Council of Rajabhat University Presidents of Thailand, the Council of Rajamangala University Presidents of Thailand and the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions of Thailand.

Chen Namchaisiri, chairman of the FTI, said educational institutions needed to tailor their curricula to meet the needs of Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national development strategy.

“Graduates who have degrees in science are in great demand now, but 70 percent of new graduates hold social science degrees. Many Thai universities have yet to develop and provide faculties that meet industrial demand, so we need to build sustainable linkages between universities and industry to improve workforce management,” Chen said.

Meanwhile, Junji Tsuda, chairman of the board at Yaskawa Electric Corporation, said that robotics are making great gains in manufacturing in Thailand as automation reduces costs and so makes products more competitive.

He said that 25 percent of all Thailand-based Japanese car-manufacturing processes are now handled by robotics, and he expects that percentage to rise.

Robotics is one of ten industries being promoted by the government as part of Thailand 4.0.