The Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission (ONDE) recently released results of its latest annual survey on “Thailand Digital Outlook”, which showed that Thais on average spend six to 10 hours online daily.
Launched in 2018, this survey has been conducted every year to serve as a central database of information on Thailand’s digital economy.
ONDE has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Thailand’s six other digital agencies to enhance cooperation and utilize the survey’s findings in strategic planning and for the country’s policy in driving a digital economy and society.
Mr. Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), said his ministry realized the importance of driving digital development to benefit the country’s economy and initiated moves towards it by joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2018. This led to the launch of the Thailand Digital Outlook survey project, which aims to assess the country’s development status.
Mr. Chaiwut was speaking after chairing the opening of the “Thailand Digital Outlook: 3rd Phase” event. “The DES Ministry’s policies for digital development of the economy and society have set the direction for Thailand’s sustainable development via digital technology. This is consistent with the government’s 20-year national strategy. In compliance with national policies, the Thailand Digital Outlook project aims to produce data and analyses to help drive the country’s development with greater efficiency that is in line with international standards. The project will also be applied to assess and push the implementation of the national 20-year strategy,” the minister said, adding the results of the survey are highly satisfactory.
The survey has helped shed light on the country’s digital development from the implementation of digital policies put in place by the ministry, ONDE and other relevant government agencies.
It also reflects the strengths and weaknesses of Thailand that need to be further developed or improved in the future. The survey also provides government and private agencies with data that they can utilize to fulfil missions, provide services, issue policies and measures to promote public, private and business sectors. The utilization of this data will also ensure efficiency and operations in line with market conditions in the digital Thailand era.
Mrs. Vunnaporn Devahastin, secretary-general of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission, says the Thailand Digital Outlook Phase 3 aims to serve as a framework for the digital development of Thailand and ensure it is in line with international standards. It can enable the development of products and services that meet local and international needs, as well as create high-value jobs to support the sustainable development of Thailand on economic and social fronts with the use of digital technology.
“ONDE has collected data, surveyed and analyzed digital economic indicators in line with OECD’s Measuring Digital Transformation and Digital Economy Outlook guidelines. Now government and private agencies can apply results of this study in the creation of policies that can be applied to the country’s digital economy and overall development. This will help formulate guidelines for promoting people’s access to the Internet, and boost Thailand’s competitiveness. Most importantly, we will have a metric storage model that is a global approach to data storage to optimize preparation, storage and analysis of metric data according to OECD’s guidelines,” said Mrs. Vunnaporn.
ONDE has also signed a cooperation agreement with six government agencies related to the digital sector for the Thailand Digital Outlook Phase 3 project. The agencies involved are National Statistical Office (NSO), Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the National Higher Education Science Research and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), and Digital Government Development Agency (DGA).
This cooperation will enable agencies to manage and integrate government information in a consistent, inter-linked manner. It will also help upgrade the government administrative system to a digital one, with agencies’ working systems and information interconnected. These results and datasets will be used to formulate the organizational strategies of each government agency.
The Thailand Digital Outlook Phase 3 study examined people’s Internet access and behavior, awareness of safety as well as the use of online channels, investment in research and skill development of digital personnel in the private business sector and government agencies. The survey comprised three groups, namely the general public in 77 provinces (39,145 samples), private business sector (3,381 samples), and government agencies in charge of providing primary services to the public (935 samples).
The survey was conducted between June and July, 2021, when Thailand was experiencing difficulties from the COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in the government, via the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), announcing lockdowns, which resulted in most people, including civil servants, having to work from home.
According to the survey, most people or 85.1% spend an average of six to 10 hours on the Internet daily. Their main objectives of using the Internet are: work (75.2%); education (71.1%); online trading of goods and services (67.4%); communication and conversations (65.1%); financial transactions (54.7%); recreation (53.1%); participation in government action (49.6%); getting online services in public health (48.6%); tracking general news (39.1%); other uses (35.6%); content creation (28.2%); and conducting online transactions (2.2%).
The survey also found that 76.6% of people purchase goods and services online, especially food and beverage, with Shopee and Lazada being the most popular platforms. The study also found that 60.7% of people use online government services, such as paying for water and electricity. In addition, 64.6% of the sample population logged on to the Internet for long-distance video conferencing. The survey also found that most people (70.2%) used the Internet at home, while some (22.2%) logged on at their workplace.
The study also found that 61.7% of people are more likely to experience stress when working on a computer. In terms of safety in trading or conducting financial transactions online, only 43.6% of people know about the Personal Data Protection Act, and 43.1% have experienced a technological security problem. Usually, the only step taken for protection is changing the login password.
In the private sector, the survey found that 98.4% of businesses use the Internet, and now more private firms are using the latest technology like Cloud and Data Analytics. Of those surveyed, 70.3% were found using Cloud, 61.5% using Data Analytics, and 41% using Artificial Intelligence in the form of Chatbots.
Businesses that have increased their use of online channels include agribusiness (54.6%); food and beverage (27.4%); and transport and logistics (27.9%). Meanwhile, the use of the Internet for tourism and leisure has dropped by 76.4% because interprovincial travel has been prohibited in line with measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The sale of fashion products online has also dropped by 44.8% and sale of equipment and machinery has dropped by 36.5% because more factories are closed due to lockdowns.
The survey also found that 73.9% of businesses use online channels to sell products and services, while 28% of businesses purchase goods and services online. The most popular online and media channels for businesses are YouTube, Line, Facebook and Twitter. The study also found that 88.5% of businesses go online for government services such as filing taxes or submitting online account information.
In terms of the digital workforce, the study found that 66.4% of entrepreneurs employ specialized staff for providing IT support and troubleshooting. It also found that 33.6% businesses hold training activities for their IT staff.
As for digital security, 80.5% of businesses are aware of the Personal Data Protection Act, while 27.1% have encountered a technological security problem. Most of the protection systems in place use verification processes.
Among government agencies that provide primary care services such as schools and Tambon (sub-district) Health Promotion Hospitals, the study found that 76.4% use the Internet and 69.1% provide online services. Facebook is the most popular channel among them, and it is mostly used for public relations and providing information.
However, according to the survey, the proportion of IT staff in government agencies is still small compared to employees in other departments, accounting for less than 5%. Most of the IT staff is responsible for maintaining and developing websites, and less than 10% of them have received training in the agency.
In terms of digital technology security, the survey found that 69.7% of government officials are aware of the Personal Data Protection Act, while 39.7% of them have experienced problems with technological security.
“The survey’s results give us a glimpse into problems related to the development of digital technology in Thailand. They are making the most of digital innovations, investing in digital innovation for both business and research, as well as building a digitally skilled workforce in Thailand to meet the needs of e-commerce development both domestically and internationally,” Mrs. Vunnaporn concluded.