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How to make Thailand the educational hub of Asean

Posted by pakin On January - 25 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

TRANSFORMING Thailand into Asean’s educational hub within the next five years is the ultimate goal of Suphachai Chearavanont, co-chairman of a working panel on basic education and leadership development under the Joint Public-Private Steering Committee.

But to achieve that ambition, the country needs to start building a favourable landscape now, with world-class laboratory facilities, massive funding from both the state and private sectors, and top researchers, plus attractive incentives from the government to make all this happen.

“Our long-term goal is to make Thailand the Asean educational hub. We have to begin by defining which research areas are important to the future of the world. The researches that are important to the world future are biotechnology, digital technology, robotic technology, or nano-technology,” the True chief executive officer said in an interview with The Nation.

He said Thailand had good fundamentals for doing research in the biotech, digital and robotic arenas. The country needs to set up open and world-class lab facilities to conduct research in these areas.

Suitable universities should be selected to host each of these labs, while the state and private sectors step in to provide support and incentives. The labs will also enlist top local and international academics to strengthen their work.

Suphachai estimated that setting up one lab would require funding of US$1 billion, so focusing on three areas would mean an investment of $3 billion (Bt108 billion). The government could allocate this funding from the annual education budget of Bt500 billion. If it did so, there is a chance that the three universities hosting the labs would see their rankings move up.

If all of the above could be realised, parents from all over Asean would send their children to enrol in these universities, which would make Thailand the centre for producing competent human resources in the region, said Suphachai, who also serves as vice chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group.

But this is the long-term plan. For now, his working panel is focusing on the immediate plan of reforming the country’s basic education.

He said that to reform education, four areas had to be improved: transparency in the educational system, evaluation processes, learning methods, and the human resources that could help lead the changes, including school principals.

He said citizens and private companies could donate money to help schools, as they were eligible for tax deductions, but they might feel hesitant to do so, as they could not easily check how schools spend their donations and how they were performing. Once people could be confident about schools’ transparency, he believed a massive number of people would be happy to provide financial help to them.

He added that school principals had to be evaluated and at the same time rewarded, according to their performance. The parents in each school’s area should also be encouraged to take part in this evaluation to create engagement between schools and communities.

He suggested that recruitment of foreign principals would help boost the education system. If the country wants Thais well versed in foreign languages, it must be willing to spend on hiring foreign teachers.

Moreover, teaching and learning methods should be changed from one-way communication to two-way, moving away from urging children to memorise text towards encouraging them to ask questions.

Students should be encouraged to engage in debate among themselves, while teachers assume the roles of facilitators and encourage the students to build up their potential. In Suphachai’s opinion, the learning process should be child-centric.

“When children ask ‘why’, they will then go on to do research or Google, and that is a life-long perspective of the entire learning process,” he said.

To accelerate these changes, he said the private sector could play a major role by becoming what he calls “dedicated sponsors” of their preferred schools and provide them with mentors to see what these schools really need. The mentors would also work closely with the principals to improve school performance.

The working panel has passed its plans on to Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Education Minister Dapong Ratanasuwan. Dapong chairs the team in the working panel from the state sector, while Suphachai chairs the private-sector team.

Among the top executives in Suphachai’s team are Isara Vongkusolkit, chairman of Board of Trade and Thai Chamber of Commerce, and Kan Trakulhoon of Siam Cement Group. The panel is working out more details of the plans before submitting them to Somkid in the next couple of weeks.

Suphachai said that when the immediate plan is approved, the government would deploy it in a large number of schools.

The working group on education is one of 12 joint public-private-sector working groups appointed by the government last month to help it steer the economy.

IoT, 4G to lead digital revolution

Posted by pakin On January - 14 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS


THE INTERNET OF THING (IoT) and 4G will be the key technologies that will Thailand’s digital transformation through 2016. Also, ubiquitous connectivity will push its way to the forefront of people’s lives this year and cloud and big data will continue to see growth with much greater adoption in Thailand this year.

Internet of Things leads digitisation

Cisco Systems believes that in 2016 digitisation should be a priority, as technology strategies will play a critical role. Vatsun Thirapatarapong, managing director for Thailand and Indochina at Cisco Systems, said Internet of Everything (IoE) and digitisation will be the top technology trends for 2016.

He said total IoT connections were estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020 and around 1.6 billion connected things will be used by smart cities in 2016.

Vatsun believes that in 2016, organisations must also address the “digital vortex” of disruption, the inevitable movement of industries toward a “digital centre” in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitised.

“Digitisation should also be at the top of the corporate agenda because if the country is moving towards digitisation speedily, our businesses will be move faster and become more dynamic to realise the full potential of this opportunity,” said Vatsun.

The explosion of IoE and digitisation is driven by the development of IP-enabled devices, the increase in global broadband availability and the advent of IPv6.

“With digitisation, every aspect of day-to-day business will change. We will see more companies will embrace IoE and become digitised regardless of device and platform in 2016,” said Vatsun.

However, Vatsun said, the mega-trends in technology that will influence businesses across industries in 2016, which are rising quickly and will come together, are digitisation, mobility, cloud, IoT, big data and data analytics.

These technologies will force organisations to dis

rupt the way they do business, provide services to citizens and improve the quality of life, including safety and security. These disruptors offer differentiated products and services and better value than incumbents, also creating a hyper-competitive landscape driven by digital disruption, where lines between industries are blurring and markets are changing exponentially.

Ryan Goh, vice president and general manager of Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific, agreed that enterprise mobility, cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the key technology trends for 2016.

The enterprise mobility market has grown rapidly over the last few years, as the Asia Pacific workforce increasingly works on-the-go and from mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the ubiquity of cloud and IoT has continued to impact every aspect of IT and how users access applications, information and business services. All these developments have triggered a greater demand for mobility solutions and smart interconnected devices, which provide visibility to assets, people and transactions, and the ability to turn intelligence into information that businesses can act upon for enhanced customer experience, better marketing strategies, or greater operational efficiency.

“IoT is truly taking off and we anticipate further growth around IoT in the year ahead, as businesses across all sectors are looking to be more informed with enterprise mobility and invest further in IoT technologies,” said Goh.

4G leads full digital transformation

Stephane Cudennec, customer business executive, Amdocs, APAC, said that digital transformation and mobile money will be the biggest influencers in 2016. With the arrival of 4G, everything will become digital. Digital transformation that supports the growing digital lifestyle will impact consumers across all industries, from banking to telecom to healthcare to services to shopping. Social networks, social media, mobile apps, online commerce, and mobile financial services will be the key enablers.

Sooner or later, all business will have to adopt digital channels for marketing, selling, and servicing their clients, and customer experience driven by digital lifestyle will be the biggest differentiator. Consumers are increasingly looking for personalised and contextualised experiences, which will see more adoption of big data analytics across the business landscape.

“Similarly, we see a growing trend of tight integration of online commerce and payments, which will drive adoption of mobile money and digital wallets,” said Cudennec.

The growing adoption of a digital lifestyle, faster Internet speed, and adoption of digital money will disrupt the paradigm of customer experience. Consumer expectations would change dramatically, impacting business models across industries. People will look for a consistent experience across all online and offline channels, regardless of their location, devices, or physical outlets.

New customer experiences will be driven by the increasing uptake of social media, mobile, online commerce and mobile financial services. There will be a continued buildout of digital channels and ecosystems. Operational and network efficiency is vital to compete with a shift to faster data networks (4G and to fibre) to enable higher bandwidth and streaming services.

Cisco Systems’ Vatsun also agrees that 4G will be pervasive in Thailand this year and mobility is still prevalent in the workplace in 2016.

According to International Data Corporation, in 2016, smartphone growth will be at 29 per cent while 40 million Thais will have their own smartphones by end of this year. This will be a key driver to increase productivity of the nation of every sector. It will allow more innovation in terms of citizen services, employee productivity, business creativity, as well as enable digital disruption through the mobile broadband.

Cloud and big data continue growing

Thanachart Numnonda , president of the Association of Thai ICT Industry (ATCI), said that cloud and big data will lead enterprises to go on cloud, and probably more than 55 per cent of them will use cloud solutions, and in particular software as a service (SaaS) will become common.

Large enterprises will seriously invest on private cloud, while small and medium enterprises may go for public cloud.

“Big data will go mainstream in 2016, especially in telecom, financial-security-insurance [FSI] and retails industries. They need to compete using big data to analyse customers, find new potential customers, and product offerings so that they can be competitive. Now many banks and telecoms are starting to invest on this,” said Thanachart.

Manoo Ordeedolchest, a member of the government’s Digital Economy Committee, said the foundation technology is networks. He said it is in the middle of connecting worlds, from human interaction, machine-to-machine (M2M), and man-to-machine interaction and collaboration, to create common value. These technologies will help disruptive business models and designs.

Vatsun said that this year, it will see more cloud-service providers entering this business seriously in Thailand. This will ensure organisations and companies in Thailand start piloting some of the applications on cloud service. It will ignite some organisations and businesses to start deploying private cloud, followed by hybrid cloud and cloud orchestration finally.

Moreover, cloud and appliances will drive the next wave of big data, according to Ovum’s latest report. We expect to see skyrocketing growth of cloud and big-data adoption in Thailand in coming years.

Meanwhile, Lenovo Thailand’s general manager, Jeerawut Wongpimonporn, believes the key features of this year will include growth of the mobile-first mindset as more people migrate to smartphones; and cloud technology and big data will be better understood and increasingly adopted as essential business tools.

He said this should have some impact on IT spending, as businesses upgrade to ensure they have secure systems as well as up-to-date hardware. Large corporates will try to prolong their change until they can see a clearer impact from the new business models, although some have started to run these in parallel with their current way of doing business. New start-ups will occur rapidly across industry, while consumers will be able to find a shorter route to suppliers which will bring down costs and most likely facilitate quicker delivery.

Overall, the digital economy will drive the entire supply chain and market significantly. The government’s digital economy will lead the impact on business practices across all industries in 2016. For example, the digital economy’s impact on the supply-chain system include that at the back end raw material suppliers will be able to reach more customers at lower cost and shorter lead times; at the middle, there will be more and more middle men involved in online businesses, as it will become easier and faster to grow with minimal investment; and at the front end, it will allow consumers to reach the original suppliers, leading to lower prices and faster delivery.

Ubiquitous connectivity

Ubiquitous connectivity will push its way to the forefront of people’s lives in 2016. The personalisation of the computing experience through sight, sound, and touch is another key trend that is set to crystallise.

Sontiya Nujeenseng, country manager for Intel Microelectronics (Thailand), said that Intel will witness the push towards smaller form factors that blend connectivity and portability with massively improved performance such as Intel’s Next Unit of Computing and Compute Stick. Moreover, Intel RealSense cameras embedded in devices that respond to human gesture control, virtual reality headsets with Intel’s latest Core processors, or voice-activated smart watches and smartphones, natural interfaces are inevitable consequences of ubiquitous connectivity. Additional applications will emerge as the technology percolates among developers.

“In Thailand, Intel has been involved in embedded technology for a period of time. This year, we will deepen our partnership with government agencies, private enterprises, telecom providers, and system integrators to scale out of the blueprint and pilot phase towards live deployments such as the smart-fleet management of the “All Thai Taxi”. This year we will scale out to other industries. We will put continuous efforts so that Thailand is well-positioned to consolidate smart devices through Internet of Things (IoT) technologies,” said Sontiya.

Similarly Microsoft Thailand general manager Orapong Thien-Ngern believes that the convergence of connectivity, cloud and mobility technologies will drive the Internet of Things (IoT) to grow rapidly.

He said that the connected technologies undeniably offer exciting new ways to live and work; they simultaneously also raise the risk of exposure to security and privacy threats. Thai enterprises will place even greater emphasis on cloud security and take critical steps to safeguard their customers’ personal data and sensitive data crucial to their businesses.

Thai enterprises will increasingly leverage data as a new form of currency to innovate, harness and analyse the data from today’s connected devices, and make these insights mission-critical to their businesses.

Small and medium businesses in Thailand will lead the rapid adoption of cloud technologies, as they seek out innovations that will reduce cost, differentiate their competitive advantage in the new AEC region, and improve customer service delivery.

Consumers and individuals will connect even more devices and demand for seamless transitions of their work and personal data between devices of different screen sizes and platforms.

Thailand gains from China’s outbound travel boom

Posted by pakin On January - 14 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

South Korea, Thailand, Japan and Taiwan are among the top five favourite destinations for Chinese travellers, which were numbered 109 million in 2015.

According to GfK’s analyses, by the start of November 2015, counting air and overnight visits, the number of Chinese travellers to South Korea showed an increase of 112 per cent since 2011. Thailand experienced an increase of 263 per cent, Japan by 157 per cent and Taiwan 54 per cent.

Hong Kong, which was the preferred destination for China’s outbound tourists up until 2013, saw a 37 per cent increase in the period.

“China’s outbound tourists remain strategic to Hong Kong and its businesses – but other destinations are jumping ahead in winning their favour. Destinations such as Hong Kong need to re-evaluate China’s new breed of young and independently-minded travellers, to understand how best to attract them and capitalize on the growth of China’s outbound tourism,” said Laurens van den Oever, global head of travel and hospitality research at GfK.

Since 2014, increasing numbers of China’s outbound tourists have been opting for other destinations that offer historical and cultural experiences, as well as shopping.

The analyses showed that last year China produced 109 million outbound tourists who spent a total of US$229 billion (approximately Bt8.2 trillion).

These statistics consolidate China’s position as one of the top global sources of tourists, in terms of both number of trips and money spent during international travel. At the same time, there have been profound changes in the behaviour of the typical Chinese traveller, with Chinese Millennials firmly established as the core drivers of China’s outbound tourism spending.

Europe remains the most popular destination for Chinese travelling outside of Asia, showing an increase of 97 per cent in the number of air and overnight visits in the last four years. This is followed by North America (up 151 per cent) and the Middle East (up 177 per cent). Africa remains the destination least visited by Chinese tourists – but with signs that this could be changing, as visits have risen by 306 per cent since 2011.

According to GfK data, half (50 per cent) of China’s outbound travellers are aged 15-29 years old – the “millennials” group – while over a third (37 per cent) are aged 30-44 and 10 per cent are 45-59.

An annual study from GfK shows that Chinese Millennials are more ambitious than their predecessors, aged 50 and above – and more hedonistic in their willingness to spend money to indulge and pamper themselves. They are also slightly less price sensitive, being the biggest purchasers of luxury goods in Asia Pacific.

For destinations looking to attract this lucrative group, then, the ideal approach is to approach them not as ’tourists’ but as independent travellers who will respond to opportunities to plan personalised trips.

PM says govt ready to cooperate with the OIC

Posted by pakin On January - 13 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS

PRIME MINISTER Prayut Chan-o-cha told Iyad Ameen Madani, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, yesterday that his government was willing to cooperate with the OIC on all matters with the exception of violence in the deep South.

Thailand has expertise in various fields such as healthcare, agriculture, food security and the halal industry, Government Spokesman Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak quoted Prayut as telling the OIC chief after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Madani praised the government for its efforts to solve the conflicts in the predominantly Muslim Southern region via political means and dialogue.

Prayut told Madani that his government had a dual-track strategy to promote development in the area as well as promote peace talks with the insurgents.

The peace process has three phases: building trust, creating a code of conduct to cut down on confrontations, and building a consensus around the road map to peace, Weerachon said.

Prayut told reporters before meeting the OIC chief that he was not aware that the Mara Patani group had met with Madani in Malaysia to discuss peace solutions for the deep South. The Mara Patani group surfaced to explore possibilities of peace negotiations with the government recently.

Thai authorities are struggling to contain violence in the deep South that flared up in 2004, claiming more than 5,000 lives since. The OIC has occasionally criticised previous Thai governments for their treatment of the Muslim minority in the South.

“I’ve already had principles in my head. Don’t talk to me if you don’t have any principles. We can’t manage the issue on our own,” Prayut said. “How many lives have been lost [because of the insurgency]? No amount of money is worth their lives.”

The two sides also discussed the issue of Rohingya people who have been trafficked to Thailand frequently over the past years. The government promised to tackle the problem at its root cause and will take human rights into account, Weerachon said.