Google, officials team up on cloud

Google, officials team up on cloud

From left: Saranee Boonritthongchai, country marketing manager at Google Thailand, Mr Bajwa, Mr Srettha, Ms Wang and Mr Narit at the Google event.
From left: Saranee Boonritthongchai, country marketing manager at Google Thailand, Mr Bajwa, Mr Srettha, Ms Wang and Mr Narit at the Google event.

Thailand is partnering with Google to facilitate governmental agencies using public cloud providers as part of the country's cloud-first policy.

The government also identified three public organisations to pioneer the adoption of generative artificial intelligence (AI), while the administration works to continue developing a cybersecurity framework and relevant skills to meet future digital needs.

Such moves should enable Thailand to capitalise on the AI economy by unlocking at least 2.6 trillion baht in economic benefits by 2030 if local organisations embrace AI innovation, creating high-value job opportunities and attracting foreign investment in technology, said speakers at Google's "Digital Samart Thailand" event yesterday.

"The partnership with Google will support the government's priorities under a national strategy to create high-value job opportunities and improve the quality of life for Thais, while reinforcing Thailand's position as a major destination for investment," said Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

The government and Google announced a strategic collaboration on Nov 14 at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting, aiming to improve Thailand's digital competitiveness and AI innovation.

Mr Srettha said the government has accelerated three efforts aimed at strengthening the country's economy.

First, the "Go Cloud First" policy collaboration with Google incorporates the company's recommendations and international best practices, such as permitting the free flow of data with privacy and security protection via encryption keys, as well as defining types of data that may need to be stored in a fully air-gapped private cloud environment.

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry plans to expedite the implementation of this policy, with more details announced in the first quarter of 2024.

Google Cloud also announced a collaboration in the field of generative AI with the DES Ministry, the Transport Ministry and the Big Data Institute. Officials from the three organisations will receive hands-on training from Google Cloud engineers to identify high-impact use cases that can be addressed with generative AI, then use Vertex AI to build their own innovative solutions.

Through Google Cloud's Vertex AI platform, organisations can choose from more than 100 Google and open-source foundation models, create their own custom models using built-in tools and enterprise data, and integrate these custom models into their digital services to better serve stakeholders.

The second effort involves the government laying the groundwork for a new national cybersecurity framework facilitated by the National Cyber Security Committee.

Thirdly, the government is expected to take the lead in promoting generative AI adoption to improve productivity and the delivery of government services, with training and tools for officials provided by Google Cloud.

"The next era of Thailand's digital economy is driven by AI and cloud," said Mr Srettha.

Narit Therdsteerasukdi, secretary-general of the Board of Investment (BoI), told the Bangkok Post by the end of this year, the Energy Ministry is likely to launch a green utility tariff scheme, opening it for applications from organisations early next year.

"We received feedback from large players that have different needs and tariffs," Mr Narit said.

Moreover, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand has considered allowing cloud and data centre providers to purchase electricity from it directly.

AI -- the new electricity

Karan Bajwa, Google Cloud's vice-president for Asia-Pacific, said the company's research revealed at least 2.6 trillion baht in economic benefits could be unlocked by 2030 if local organisations embrace AI innovation.

He said AI is the "new electricity" that is critical to bring transformation at scale.

According to Access Partnership's latest "Economic Impact Report", Thailand is estimated to need 600,000 additional workers with advanced and intermediate digital skills by 2027 to support the growth of the digital economy. By narrowing the digital talent gap, digital skills training can add 1 trillion baht to the country's economy by 2030.

In October 2022, Google introduced Samart Skills, an exclusive Grow with Google programme for Thailand that aims to bridge the digital skills gap, helping to train workers for in-demand jobs. Since its inception, Google has trained 5,500 people with 85% of graduates reporting a positive career outcome within six months of graduating, such as a new job, promotion or a raise.

Google plans to provide an additional 12,000 Google Career Certificate scholarships to the BoI and DES Ministry through the end of 2024, bringing the total number of scholarships to 34,000. The company also added four new certificates in English for Cybersecurity, Advanced Data Analytics, Business Intelligence and IT Automation with Python, extending the total certificates on offer to nine.

Jackie Wang, country director of Google Thailand, said last year businesses in Thailand used Google's AI-powered products and solutions to unlock more than 150 billion baht in economic benefits.

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