Thai business leaders must embrace AI now

Thai business leaders must embrace AI now

Getting started is not hard or expensive, and local startups are available to help

Every once in a while, you listen to someone who changes how you see or understand something important. I had the chance to learn from Amir Goldberg, a professor at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and he did just that.

Like many leaders lately, I have been encouraging the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and trying things out, but I believe the time for casually testing possibilities is over. There is a challenge.

Prof Goldberg described the situation as the train having left the station: You cannot refuse to jump to get on board, nor can you choose to get off. In the business context, this means you cannot afford not to use the data in your organisation, and there is no opt-out because if you do not, your competitors will. They will kill you by producing better quality at a lower cost.

But if you just run to do it quickly without thinking of your needs and situation, or just copy what others do, it is a huge risk.

Many leaders I have talked to have asked me why I need to know about AI in my business, or expressed the belief that the disruption it could bring is still far away. I tell them that AI is already offering new opportunities for innovation and growth. This is why it is crucial to understand the potential of AI in your organisation and how to integrate it into your strategy.

The Truth about AI in Thai Businesses Today

We talk a lot about AI and Generative AI applications like ChatGPT. We hear about the use cases. But Prof Goldberg suggested we look at AI like electricity. It has so many uses that we should not limit our thinking about it.

It is also important to remember the fact that you are using an AI does not mean that you allow AI to make decisions for you. That is the role of the human. That is the role of the manager or leader.

Some organisations in Thailand are already doing great things with AI, and some local startups like Vulcan Coalition are creating interesting offerings and approaches. But comparatively, we are not that far along. If the changes I have seen in my own business are anything to go by, this needs to change.

In my business, professional education, AI has the potential to be transformative. It rapidly speeds up the design process, turning weeks into days. It reduces the time and effort in creating content. It becomes easy to create assessments, tools, learning flows, and so on.

This does not include all the administrative and analytical work AI can do for any business. You can do more with fewer people on a project. What we are talking about is not technology alone it is the transformation of your people and your culture and how things get done.

Traditionally, changes in a culture take years. I believe AI will reduce this time, simultaneously having the potential to create ongoing evolution in ways of working.

Where to Start?

You do not need to spend a fortune or build your AI. You do not need to hire AI experts (full-time anyway). Instead, look for ways to improve efficiency, productivity and customer experience.

Define priority goals: Identify the specific goals you want to achieve through AI. This could include enhancing processes such as payments, expense management and analytics, or improving customer service and marketing efforts. Then go find a chatbot maker. Several Thai startups are offering this service already.

Educate yourself and your team: There may be an education gap among smaller business owners regarding the best ways to deploy AI tools. I certainly had one. To address this, consider attending workshops, webinars, or online courses to learn more about AI and its potential applications in your business.

Play and expand: Begin with a small-scale AI project in a single department, such as customer service or marketing. Gather feedback and refine your strategy before expanding AI applications across the business.

AI is no longer a luxury accessible only to big tech companies; it is becoming increasingly accessible to Thai organisations of all sizes. Embrace the potential of AI in your strategy. AI is already transforming the way we work and make decisions.

Your Role as a Leader

As a leader, it is crucial to understand the potential of AI and build a winning AI strategy for your business. The biggest obstacle to any change is people and their experience. There will be times when they simply don’t agree with the recommendations offered by AI. Their experience will tell them something different.

But humans have a lot of biases. We trust people who are like us. You need to create a culture where people have open discussions about what it means to use AI and not let politics and experiences override these predictions. This is really important. If you say the AI said this, but I’m going to go with my intuition, what you are saying to your employees is do not trust the AI.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer, Managing Director, and Founder at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Centre. She is fascinated by the challenge of transforming education for all to create better prospects for Thais and people everywhere. Reach her email at or

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