The Internet of Thing (IoT) industry in Thailand is expected to be worth US$1 billion (Bt33 billion) by 2020. And Thai enterprises rank as highest among Asean countries in exploring or implementing IoT solutions, studies show.
Industrial enterprises are the largest contributor to Thailand’s economy, while industrial IoT products and services are more mature, featuring several solution providers in this space with extensive experience in implementing IoT solutions for industrial companies.
The manufacturing segment is the single largest contributor to Thailand’s economy when compared to its contribution to other Asean economies.
Irza Suprapto, CEO of solution provider Asia IoT Business Platform, said Thailand should first and foremost focus on IoT solutions for the largest economies – which in Thailand is the manufacturing sector. The government has identified that potential and is making both hard and soft investments to ramp up companies along the technological curve.
The Thailand 4.0 policy has highlighted opportunities and investment trends in 10 targeted industries, divided into two broad categories. They include the first five S-Curve industries (general automotive, intelligent electronics, advanced agriculture and biotechnology, food processing, and tourism) where the country’s competitiveness can be enhanced through building on its current strengths through technological innovation. Also targeted are the five new S-Curve industries (digital, robotics and automation, aviation and logistics, biofuels and biochemicals, and medical hubs) where the aim is to develop those industries to accelerate the new industrial growth base.
“The enterprises under the industrial verticals are most advanced in exploring and/or implementing IoT solutions,” says Suprapto.
With these investments and developments, the IoT industry in Thailand is expected to be worth US$1 billion by 2020.
The most obvious potential for Thai enterprises implementing IoT solutions is through productivity gains. Thailand has lagged behind its Asean peers in improving productivity and proper adoption of IoT solutions should help enterprises bridge this gap. Increased productivity would also make Thailand a more attractive location for foreign investments.
“This is the fourth consecutive year hosting the Asia IoT Business Platform event in Bangkok and we have seen a reduction in the inertia exhibited by enterprises in implementing IoT and digitisation projects,” says Suprapto.
His company’s annual survey of Asean enterprises discovered that cost is less a concern here compared to in other Asean nations, while security issues rank as the largest obstacle to higher adoption rates of IoT solutions among Thai enterprises.
Establishing the right ecosystem is key to IoT implementation taking off in any Asean country, Suprapto said. The four key stakeholders within an ecosystem are governments, telecommunications companies, solution providers and local enterprises.
Governments can contribute to creating the right ecosystem through crafting policies that increase the solution options available to enterprises and by promoting their adoption by providing both financial and non-financial supports. For example, Singapore has spent a lot of resources to promote its Smart Nation Programme globally to attract international companies to get involved in local projects.
Thailand has formed the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society to track how digital transformation projects affect the growth of both the economy (businesses) and society (people). In Thailand, the ministry has set the target for the digital sector to contribute 25 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Telecommunication companies play a key role through ensuring strong connectivity, be it Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) or traditional bandwidth. The extent of their IoT strategy has differed vastly between telecommunication companies in Asean.
Thailand’s telecoms launched their NB-IOT networks earlier this year and Suprapto said it will be interesting to see what types of solutions will use this standard going forward.
Large solution providers target each Asean country differently, and the breadth and depth of the solutions they are able to provide within each country also differs. Asean economies continue to outpace global growth rates and the larger technology vendors have started to commit additional resources to increase their product and service offerings in the region.
Local enterprises need an ecosystem that encourages them to make investments in IoT and the three stakeholders singled out above will play key roles in providing the impetus for Asean enterprises to adopt IoT solutions.
“IoT implementation isn’t the same as a traditional enterprise IT product purchase decision,” said Suprapto, “and enterprises need to invest a fair bit of resources to adopt IoT successfully.
“Having supportive policies, strong connectivity infrastructure and leading-edge technology minimises the risks business leaders [are exposed to] in adopting IoT projects.”
He added that the role of his company’s Asia IoT Business Platform is to help encourage IoT adoption in Asian countries. The programmes in Asean over the past five years have evolved in line with the nature of the IoT industry.
“Southeast Asia cannot be ignored, as overall economic growth is expected to remain strong over the next few years,” said Suprapto. “You can also see that with the [increasing] number of vendors interested in providing IoT solutions to Asean markets, the growth in business opportunities is really quite impressive. The marginal cost of IoT solutions to enterprises declines as the number of technology vendors increases.”
The local Asean markets are mature enough to identify challenges unique to this part of the world. IoT adoption can be a key competitive advantage for firms wanting to stay ahead of the curve.
“IoT is not a problem which can be solved with a one-size-fits-all solution. Business models will have to adapt. This starts with having in-depth, honest discussions among stakeholders. And that is what we aim to provide,” said Suprapto.