Thailand is partnering with Microsoft to use artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology to strengthen the country's economic competitiveness, create high-value jobs, and position the country as a regional leader in digital innovation and sustainability, says Microsoft.
The Thai government and Microsoft signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Nov 15 for a collaboration to pursue a digital-first, AI-powered Thailand during Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's attendance at the Apec Leaders' Meeting 2023 in San Francisco between Nov 15-17.
Mr Srettha and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella met in San Francisco and discussed the key objectives of the MoU.
In line with the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry's digital government and cloud-first policies, Microsoft plans to work closely with government agencies to drive the development of smart digital infrastructure in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, tourism and education.
Both parties will explore a path towards data centre investment to bolster cloud and AI use in Thailand, while Microsoft will work to enhance the Thai government's cybersecurity posture with industry-leading best practices and expertise.
Microsoft vows to engage the DES Ministry in developing and integrating AI into e-government projects and public services for the benefit of Thais.
Both parties plan to establish a strategic AI Centre of Excellence to accelerate existing AI projects in the public sector, define a clear roadmap for AI implementation, and foster innovation across various sectors and industries.
Furthermore, the DES Ministry and Microsoft are expected to engage in consultation over policy and regulatory frameworks that ensure responsible and productive use of AI in Thailand.
Microsoft will continue its mission to develop future-ready skills for 10 million Thais by working alongside the ministry and other stakeholders to equip Thais with crucial skills, the company said.
"From building second-language proficiency and advancing digital literacy to developing the next generation of citizen developers, this collaboration seeks to provide underserved communities across the country with access to more learning opportunities and materials," said Microsoft.
To accelerate Thailand's journey towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2065, Thai government agencies will engage Microsoft to create a sustainability sandbox for the development of environmental innovations that are effective and scalable for the public sector, large enterprises and small businesses alike.
Microsoft will also be working towards achieving 100% renewable energy usage for potential investments in the country, according to the MoU.
Mr Srettha said Thailand's commitment to a sustainable future and renewable energy aligns with Microsoft's vision.
This collaboration will strengthen Thailand's economy while enhancing the country's digital capability, he said.
Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia, said AI has proven to be a major generational milestone in transforming how people and organisations work.
"With Thailand setting its sights on generating 48 billion baht in business and social impact through AI by 2027, we are excited to be working more closely with the Thai government to bring this vision of AI-powered Thailand to life," he said.
This week the government announced it reached deals with Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft to invest in Thailand, with a total investment worth about 300 billion baht.
In a related matter, at this week's World Marketing Forum in Thailand, Paul Carvouni, general manager of Microsoft's enterprise business in Asean, cited the IDC Business Value of AI survey in September 2023, which stated that AI impacts the bottom line. For every $1 companies invest in AI, the average return is $3.5, he said.
Organisations are realising a return on their AI investment within 14 months of deployment on average.
Meanwhile, 40% of organisations had implementation times of less than six months, and 92% of AI deployments are taking 12 months or less, said Mr Carvouni.