Saturday, December 14, 2019

How your company can deal with digital disruption in Thailand

Aug 14. 2019
Arinya Talerngsri, chief capability officer and managing director at SEAC
Arinya Talerngsri, chief capability officer and managing director at SEAC
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How is your company and its staff preparing to address the challenges of digital disruption that has only just begun?

Truth be told, according to research by CA Technologies, Thailand is the most digitally disrupted market in the Asia Pacific and Japan. Some 95 per cent of business and IT leaders in Thailand have indicated that both the market and their organisations have been affected by digitalisation. And 98 per cent have stated that their job has been changed by it. 

To be honest, 98 per cent is almost everyone, which means almost all the businesses in Thailand are already going through some sort of change in job roles and organisation. 

When we talk about “job change”, it has two implications: First, the role or the job profile has been changed completely. Second, the style of working and nature of the job has changed drastically to the point where old traditional styles and ways of working are no longer applicable.

Another research indicated that an estimated 9.2 million Thais are at risk of losing their jobs to machines, while eight million other jobs are on the line in the next two decades, affecting nearly half of the country’s entire employment.

Looking at these high numbers, one can predict the degree and magnitude of disruption that is approaching, and these raise one essential question: How many companies and staff in Thailand are ready for change and the huge transition of skills?

Another report by IDC has predicted that by 2022, more than 61 per cent of Thailand’s GDP will be digitalised, with growth in every industry driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations, and relationships. 

Considering the size and magnitude of the transition that is coming, with regards to the time left to prepare, it is another confirmation that some traditional jobs are soon going to disappear from the job market in a matter of a few years, while for some of them, the nature of work and style will completely change.

Given the future that lies ahead of us, how can leaders prepare themselves and their organisations for the challenges ahead? 

There are two approaches to dealing with this situation – reskilling and upskilling.

Reskilling helps your people to learn an entirely new skill outside of their current skillset and allows them to shift their career on a new path the future promises, even while their current job sector gets disrupted and starts to disappear from the market. 

Upskilling is about upgrading your existing skillset to help you carry out your current job better and grow as an individual in all possible dimensions, be it quality, speed, productivity, efficiency, or even all the irreplaceable soft skills that machines cannot provide.

According to a report by PwC, Talent Trends 2019: Upskilling for a Digital World, 79 per cent of CEOs worldwide are concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforces is threatening the future growth of their organisations, which is a big rise compared to 63 per cent in 2014. 

The report also indicated that almost half – 46 per cent – of CEOs globally say significant retraining/upskilling is the most important initiative to close a potential skills gap, against 18 per cent who say it’s hiring from outside their industry. 

There are two confirmations from these statistics – there are clearly not enough skills to handle the level of challenges that digital disruption is bringing, and second, out of all the options and proposals we have right now, reskilling and upskilling is probably the most effective and sustainable long-term solution considering our current capacity and resources. 

Since reskilling and upskilling appears to be the road ahead, you might be asking – how can you, as a leader, encourage, motivate and empower your people in a way that they embrace change with an open mind, and are constantly willing to learn, grow and evolve to align themselves with the organisational shift? 

Honestly speaking, it’s a challenge. Organisational transformation has never been easy for anyone. But it’s not impossible. All you need to do is know your people first, understand their perspective and challenges, and then address the need of change in a way that makes sense to them, and not in terms of some new high-level strategic goal or KPI that the management wants them to meet. 

The change you’re proposing needs to be meaningful to every employee in your organisation, and the change begins with you. 

Arinya Talerngsri is chief capability officer and managing director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Centre. She can be reached by email at or

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