IBM Thailand hopes to make Thailand a sales hub for the Indochina subregion and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to help local businesses digitally transform.
"Innovation and technology are driving growth and transformation in Thailand," said Patama Chantaruck, the newly appointed managing director of IBM Thailand and vice-president for Indochina.
Ms Patama worked overseas for 16 years, including at Microsoft, and was a managing director at Microsoft Thailand.
IBM is positioning itself as a digital transformation partner in Thailand by bringing the key technology of Watson AI to analyse data and make useful insights for businesses in nine vertical sectors: healthcare, automotive, agriculture, retail, government, education, finance, business solutions and energy.
"AI began to see growing popularity in the past 3-4 years, but IBM has spent 60 years on AI development out of 107 years of being a company," Ms Patama said, adding that IBM has 16,000 Watson customers in more than 20 industries in 80 countries.
AI brings new market opportunities at a growth rate of 25% globally beyond traditional IT market service and software business, according to an IDC-IBM survey of 12,854 respondents in 112 countries.
Ms Patama said IBM in 2019 will change its organisational structure and deploy resources to make the Thailand office a sales operations hub for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
"We see high potential growth for Indochina, particularly in banking and retail, so we will join with our partners to expand our footprint," said Ms Patama, who is also the first person appointed to oversee the Indochina market.
IBM Thailand aims to have 5-10% of total revenue stemming from Indochina within three years.
IBM is also in discussion with educational institutes and the government to provide curricula and funding for future workforces by encouraging vocational schools to cultivate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholars who can become data scientists, data engineers and blockchain experts.
"We find that humans can work alongside machines," Ms Patama said.
Blockchain is the flagship technology for universal payment that IBM is promoting through a collaboration with the Bank of Thailand.
IDC estimates that global spending on blockchain will reach US$9.7 billion (320 billion baht) by 2021.
"I hope to make IBM a priority technology partner for businesses that choose to embrace technologies and leverage them to broaden sources of revenue and new business models," Ms Patama said.
IBM is also focused on multi-cloud management with the recent acquisition of Red Hat, making IBM a leader in hybrid cloud.