US-BASED giant IBM plans to open a full-fledged innovation centre in Thailand later this year to combine its cognitive computing technology with customer experience and design thinking.
In addition, IBM and its Thai partner Digital Ventures will organise the world’s first IBM Watson Business Case competition here later this year to promote financial technology or “fintech” start-ups.
According to Parnsiree Amatayakul, country general manager of IBM Thailand, the innovation centre will provide an eco-system for businesses and educational institutes to help deliver new products and services to drive the country’s digital economy.
IBM has also opened a Watson Centre at Marina Bay in Singapore to connect 5,000 professionals in cognitive solutions in the Asia-Pacific region, including researchers, data scientists, software engineers, developers and analytic experts.
The planned innovation centre in Thailand will also leverage IBM’s successful cases around the world to enhance the potential of local clients and partners.
Citing free courseware and usage of IBM’s Watson Application Programming Interface (APIs) on its cloud platform, Thailand can leapfrog by developing skills needed for the country’s new S-Curve industries and Thailand 4.0 roadmap.
According to IBM, the cognitive computing technology integrates a total of five fields, namely big data and analytics; artificial intelligence; human-computer interaction such as speech, translation and machine vision; knowledge representation, semantics and context; and computing infrastructure.
Most of the data is unstructured and massive such as images, voices and videos, so it is currently difficult for computers to fully make use of them.
For instance, only 15 per cent of organisations at present benefit from data analytics. However, big data is becoming a key to boost business competitiveness as more and more enterprises become fully digitised, allowing them to gain insights and competitive advantage.
As for the IBM Watson Business Case competition, Sasin of Chulalongkorn University and Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA) will also join as coaches for qualifying teams.
Parnsiree said the contest will serve as a stage for Thai college students and start-ups to learn and showcase their potential.
However, studies show that nine out of 10 start-ups fail because there is no market need. As a result, the competition is designed to focus on solutions that allow business adaptation instead of perfect technology solutions, which may not have business feasibility.
A total of 10 teams are expected to make the final round of the competition and the winner will join IBM Asean SmartCamp as well as the Launch Festival in San Francisco, which is the world’s largest start-up conference.
Thana said Digital Ventures, a unit of Siam Commercial Bank, will also consider investing in the winning team.