How Covid-19 propelled digital disruption transformed Thailand’s business sector


A vast majority of businesses have been driven by digital disruption globally with most executives admitting its transformative impact to an extent. It is, therefore, crucial to identify digital disruption perspectives and approaches to digital implementation in Thai companies.

“Deloitte Thailand conducted its first Thailand Digital Transformation survey in November 2019 to early January 2020. With the unprecedented Covid-19 global pandemic later in 2020 and its seismic impact, a pulse survey was commissioned covering November 2020 to January 2021 as a follow-up to gain an understanding of the pandemic’s impact on digital transformation in Thai businesses. The annual Thailand Digital Transformation Survey intends to serve as a benchmark of sentiment on the progress of digital transformation in Thailand,” said Dr Narain Chutijirawong, executive director of Deloitte Thailand’s clients and industries division.

The two surveys focus on the following topics to draw a comparative analysis of digital transformation implementation before and during the Covid-19 pandemic:

• Interpreting perceptions towards digital disruption

• Exploring digital transformation implementation

• Pinpointing digital transformation skill demand

• Identifying areas of government support in digital transformation

The respondents of both surveys hold managerial positions. For instance, 19 per cent of respondents in the primary survey are members of the board of directors and 16 per cent are CFOs. Meanwhile, for the pulse survey, 34 per cent were CFOs, 30 per cent CIOs or equivalent and 13 per cent members of the board.

The consumer sector has been the leader in adopting basic technology such as traditional web, mobile applications and cloud before and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, the traditional web was adopted in 79 per cent of companies, rising to 95 per cent after Covid-19.

This sector also surpassed the technology, media and telecom sectors in adopting advanced technology including blockchain, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, with the adoption of AI rising from 4 per cent before Covid-19 to 35 per cent after.

Financial services as well as life sciences and healthcare sectors pushed their digital transformation plan after the arrival of Covid-19. The two sectors, however, face recruitment issues for the key positions of data analysts and scientists.

Up to 56 per cent of companies are now at the “digital adopter” stage after the arrival of Covid-19 compared to 12 per cent earlier, shifting from 59 per cent in the digital evaluator stage to 12 per cent after Covid.

Furthermore, the implementation of advanced technology, except robotics, and basic technologies has increased in the post-Covid-19 era. For instance, a 19 per cent increase in Cloud technology adoption rate was found as well as a 16 per cent increase in the Internet of Things and a 15 per cent increase in mobile applications. This indicates a digital adoption of all technologies across business sectors at a rapid pace during the Covid-19 period.

Viney Hora, executive director of Deloitte Consulting, said: “The major challenge in implementing digital transformation is not the technology itself, but rather a lack of internal and external expertise in the relevant fields. Thai corporates reveal the three main challenges they face include talent gap, digital culture and organisation silo. All of which have almost nothing to do with technology but revolve around recruiting people with the right skill to get the job done.”

According to the survey, in 2020, analytical thinking and innovation, as well as active learning and learning strategies, ranked first among the country's skill demand, which aligns with the global market's expected skill demand in 2025. The outcome also demonstrates that Thailand is moving in the same direction as the international market.

“The higher digital transformation rate coupled with an immense and unforeseeable impact from the Covid-19 pandemic across all businesses is evident. Businesses should therefore be more vigilant about the digital transformation movement and the digital environment in the market especially during this period of turmoil,” added Dr Narain.

Click to check out the full Thailand Digital Transformation Survey 2021.