International tech powerhouse Tencent is gearing up to serve as a digital assistant for all quarters to help them digitally transform through smart solutions that would bring them new business opportunities in the new normal era.
“The pandemic has an impact on people’s work and their lifestyle,” said Krittee Manoleehagul, vice-president of Tencent Cloud International for Southeast Asia and managing director of Tencent Thailand.
More businesses are relying on cloud services to ensure continuity of its operations and boost their comparative advantage, he said.
According to global research firm Gartner, global cloud spending is expected to surge 23% year-on-year to US$332.3 billion in 2021, driven by the pandemic that boosts the adoption of online services, such as videoconferencing, online studying, shopping, gaming and livestreaming.
“The size of global cloud spending is even equal or larger than some countries’ GDPs,” Mr Krittee said.
Frost & Sullivan, a global research and consulting firm, indicated 52% of global organisations used cloud services in 2020 with 34% of them more likely to increase cloud adoption over the next two years.
“The rollout of 5G with high-speed communication network and low latency will drive cloud adoption as well,” he said.
In Asean, Singapore ranks first in terms of cloud adoption and market size, followed by Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, respectively.
However, Thailand ranks second in the region in terms of the size of its economy.
“Despite the country’s mature economy and the [population’s] average age of 38, the local cloud market accounts for only $800 million out of $6.8 billion in the region,” said Mr Krittee.
Singapore has long experienced cloud adoption with $2.5 billion in spending. Malaysia has adopted a cloud-first policy since 2017 while Indonesia is the largest economy in the region.
Singapore sees more advanced cloud adoption in vertical industries that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Thailand still embraces a basic cloud adoption, shifting from on-premise data storage to cloud services.
“This is a great opportunity and challenge to increase more advanced cloud adoption to boost productivity and efficiency as well as leverage smart analytic technology to generate new customer experience, increase sales and respond to new normalcy, including social distancing,” Mr Krittee said.
In Thailand, cloud spending is expected to surge 31.7% year-on-year to 26.8 billion baht in 2021 and jump 28.2% to 34.4 billion baht next year. The growth rate in 2021 is above the average projected rise of 23.1% at the global level.
“For Tencent, we are not focusing just on providing infrastructure for data storage with computing power but also on smart solutions to serve software as a service and platform as a service,” said Mr Krittee.
He said smart solutions can be customised and designed for specific industry usage with “intelligence” power brought in to help differentiate businesses from rivals and enhance their operational efficiency.
Powered by Tencent’s cloud-based solutions, electronics manufacturer Foxconn can run factories with a smaller number of workers at their sites as production can be remotely controlled.
“Livestreaming can potentially draw a huge number of audiences to take part. This can boost customer engagement and the immersive experience,” said Mr Krittee. JOOX music streaming is also powered by Tencent’s cloud service.
The cloud service can reach out to other industrial spheres, such as healthcare, smart city, education, as well as the financial sector.
In healthcare, it can be used for telemedicine for the diagnosis of health conditions. The involvement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology can also help speed up the screening of patients.
AI-based cloud services can also support smart city development, such as monitoring traffic density.
Regarding education, cloud services can be used to power online learning. For example, with the integration of facial recognition technology, it can help detect examination fraud.
Facial recognition and AI technologies can be adopted by physical stores to better understand customer satisfaction and their level of interest in products.
In the financial sector, Tencent’s cloud technology is used to support digital bank WeBank’s operations, empowering its transaction handling.
“The pandemic has accelerated new business opportunity and cloud adoption,” he said.
“At Tencent, we will bring our innovative smart solutions to be a digital assistant for business. We can be technology partners and give time to businesses to focus on their growth rather than technology,” said Mr Krittee.
Advanced smart solutions can help organisations deliver innovations that boost user experience, he said.
“We have local teams in many markets who will listen and understand local needs while working with software developers to provide solutions that fit the markets’ needs,” said Mr Krittee.
Data Centre Growth
Tencent has set its sights on 30% growth in its internet data centre (IDC) investment worldwide this year with Southeast Asia, which has 400 million internet users, serving as the strategic region for the investment.
The company unveiled its first IDC in Indonesia early this year and plans to open another by year-end.
It launched the third IDC in Singapore in April and the second IDC in Thailand in June. Around the world, Tencent has data centres covering 67 service zones in 27 regions.
The company aims to continually increase new data centres in each key market in which it provides cloud services.
Local data centres are necessary to support data residency, particularly in healthcare and financial sectors. This also complies with Thailand’s Personal Data Protection Act, he said.
Tencent is focusing on cloud services for media and entertainment, bank and financial, retail and ecommerce as well as gaming and education sectors.
“By having practical smart solutions, flexible competitive pricing with free credit trial use and strong ecosystem through resellers, system integrators and independent software developers, we can thrive to become one of the top three cloud service providers in the region within 2-3 years,” said Mr Krittee.
Digital transformation is a must among businesses now to support online shopping and flexible working conditions for workers.
“This trend will be here to stay after the pandemic as people’s behaviors have changed,” said Mr Krittee.
He said businesses now need to go digital and place importance upon online channels for growth. Although the offline will remain, the online drive will become another major channel too, he said.
“You might have never thought that cement products could be sold through online channels. But sales agents now can make a good live presentation to sell them,” said Mr Krittee.
“With the pandemic, everyone faces the same situation. But the ones that can survive in the future are those who can adjust faster.”
Serving in the vice-president’s role for about a year, while the pandemic has been rampant, Mr Krittee said he relies on remote work to oversee the operation.
“I have trust in our local head country managers who have strong experience and market understanding,” he said.
Cross market collaboration to share knowledge and learn customer needs in different industries is also vital in order to get an understanding of what users want.
Feedback will also be gathered and relayed to product development teams to customise solutions that fit industrial needs.
Unlike managing a local team where deep understanding about the local market is needed, Mr Krittee said his regional role gives him broader knowledge in a broad range of perspectives. Bangkok Post