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Growing with the cloud, enabling Thailand’s Digital Economy 4.0

Nov 13. 2017
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By Special to The Nation

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EVERY ONE of us is living in the cloud.

Of course, I am not saying we are actually flying in clouds. As the new era of an intelligent world draws near, the cloud will become as essential as electricity, a part of everyday life that is all around us and yet imperceptible. The cloud will be a key piece of infrastructure that supports the digital transformation of industries, enables the digital economy, and creates a world where all things are connected.

We’re growing with the cloud.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were nearly 100,000 gas streetlights in New York City. These lights had to be manually lit every night, all at once. Over about two decades these streetlights were gradually replaced by electric lights and connected to the power grid.

Today, Thailand’s government and companies are building their own IT systems, and each has a dedicated team to build and support them. Twenty years from now, these systems will all be connected to the cloud, just like the New York City streetlights were eventually connected to the power grid.

Where power grids delivered electricity, the cloud will deliver big data. Data may be generated when you play on your mobile phone, or when you pay your bill in the shopping mall, or it could be a company’s transaction data, fluctuations in industrial economic indicators after a government announcement, or even the water content in grain, or the body temperature of cows.

This big data, generated by the Internet of Things, will flow into the cloud. Big data analytics and cloud computing will create things never seen before and applications that were almost unimaginable in the past, to benefit everyone. We will by then have command systems that help make our cities safer, cashless and mobile finance apps that make international trading easier, driverless electric cars that can accurately speed down roads, and AI assistants that increasingly know our habits like the back of their digital hands.

The cloud is also driving digital agriculture, a major sector in Thailand. In some countries, the sensors installed in croplands can upload data into the cloud, where data analytics can then drive automatic irrigation or temperature interventions. Sensors on collars worn by cows can help us accurately monitor their body temperature and habits. Then the “brain in the cloud” can calculate the best time for milk production so that the farmers can make more money. And all this data can be delivered to mobile devices in real time.

We are convinced every Thai is embracing this digital life. The cloud will affect the welfare of everyone. People will be able to focus on innovating and driving vibrant and sustainable economic growth in a future that is fully connected and cloud-based.

The Thailand 4.0 strategy is aligned with this new technology. It recognises the economic reality that underlies digital lifestyles and the digital transformation of industries, and provides a blueprint for how the cloud will shape a digital and intelligent world.

Driven by the Thailand 4.0 strategy, the government and Thai enterprises will tap into the full potential of ICT to create e-government and e-enterprises. Ten to 20 years from now, Thailand will be an “intelligent country” powered by AI and other new technologies. ICT technologies will be mostly accessed via the cloud in this new, intelligent world. Services like AI, big data analytics, video analysis, and IoT platform management will be delivered as cloud services.

The cloud will not be a privilege for tech companies only. It will be a fundamental resource accessible to all industries. Driven by the Thailand 4.0 strategy, more and more new industries and enterprises will be born and grow in the cloud era. By 2025, conservative estimates suggest, all IT solutions for enterprises will be cloud-based (leveraging cloud technologies), and over 85 per cent of enterprise applications will be deployed on clouds.

Investment in cloud computing will be a key driver for realising the goals of Thailand 4.0 and full digital transformation. 

Information infrastructure plays a key role in growing the digital economy. There is a growing digital gap between countries. Developing the digital economy is a little like rowing upstream: If you are not moving forward, then you are moving backwards. The first step for the Thai government is to focus on building infrastructure, such as cloud computing, national broadband networks, and IoT. This infrastructure will drive the modernisation and digital transformation of traditional industries like rail, roads, waterways, and power, bringing a higher quality of economic development for Thailand.

All stakeholders should seize the opportunities brought by the platform economy and the industrial Internet. Carriers are a key link in the process of digital transformation. They will be able to leverage their large customer base, leased line networks, and other physical resources to expand into industrial Internet markets. They can boost their ICT business by adopting new business models that exploit smart technology and deliver industry-|specific products and solutions. |At the same time, leading enterprises within each industry can start to convert their sector-specific insight into big data and Business Intelligence (BI), and embrace collaboration with partners from different industries.

James Wu, President of Huawei Southeast Asia Region

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