SVOA casts a wide net in hopes of pandemic boon

SVOA casts a wide net in hopes of pandemic boon

Ms Kulapa, right, and Mr Ananpol say SET-listed SVOA is diversifying its business to capture new digital trends such as cloud computing and biometric technology as more organisations transform operations.
Ms Kulapa, right, and Mr Ananpol say SET-listed SVOA is diversifying its business to capture new digital trends such as cloud computing and biometric technology as more organisations transform operations.

SET-listed SVOA, a computer and IT distributor, is gearing up for cloud computing, biometric technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in a bid to ride the digital wave arising from the pandemic.

"This pandemic accelerates widespread technology adoption by the public and private sectors as well as consumers," newly appointed chief executive Kulapa Intanate told the Bangkok Post.

To capture this digital transformation technology, SVOA has appointed new management teams, explored high-growth businesses and sought ways to offset declining revenue in traditional IT, she said.

SVOA is recruiting youngsters with new skills and spinning off new subsidiaries for flexibility.

"We will combine highly experienced management figures who have gone through various crises and have market insights with newer talent in order to drive the growth sustainably," Ms Kulapa said.

The company has three core business units: IT distribution, IT projects and IT consulting and implementation.

In the distribution segment, the company focuses on wholesale gaming computers, gear and accessories to capture the rise of e-sports.

SVOA also imports robots for the education and service sectors from China.

"We will see the rise of robotic education at primary and secondary levels, and even in vocational schools," she said.

There has also been an increase in the use of service robots in hospitals, the retail sector and airports.

"Robots that care for the elderly and hospital patients are of interest as Thailand's population is ageing," Ms Kulapa said.

The company has a plan to work with hospitals to deploy robots to assist their services.

In manufacturing, the company works with tech giant Epson to provide robot arms.

Ananpol Nonthaphund, director and chief operating officer of SVOA, said the company will give more weight to the online channel as shuttering IT shops in malls in April led to a 40% reduction in sales.

In May, IT device retail sales doubled thanks to online learning and remote work. The online channel accounts for 15-20% of the company's earnings and is expected to reach 20-30% this year.

Regarding IT projects, government spending to carry out the projects has been limited since the final quarter of last year. But the government is expected to spend more on digital infrastructure in the third quarter.

"We plan to provide cloud computing services to the public sector to help them become agile and scale up," Ms Kulapa said.

For the systems integration business, the company has strong knowledge of ATM and banking systems, but needs to focus on new demand in the banking sector, particularly virtual teller machines, which offer remote teller assistance.

The company established a new subsidiary, Digitech ONE, focused on e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer) technology, which could cater to biometric identification, cross-verification between banks and document signing.

Furthermore, the firm set up AI Lab, which zeroes in on machine learning and AI tech that could serve data analysis.

"We continue to invest in potential business growth through joint ventures, acquisitions and spin-offs, including investing in local startups as an angel investor," she said. "The company has invested 100 million baht in high-growth businesses the past two years.

"We don't aim to be the largest IT distributor. Our goal is to be agile and maintain our modern position as a tech enabler that empowers and grows with our customers for success."

SVOA, in operation for four decades, expects 2020 revenue to be flat like last year, assuming the pandemic doesn't worsen. New business is expected to contribute to 5-10% of the company's revenue this year.

According to Ms Kulapa, overall IT sales are expected to fall from last year because of the lack of spending in the first half.

In the post-pandemic world, several mid-sized IT distribution firms could merge while others disappear, with modern trade operators increasing space for IT sales, which would eat into the distribution market.

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