On November 25, 2016, Fujitsu hosted Fujitsu Asia Conference Bangkok in the Thai capital. One of the features of the conference was a panel discussion on "Use of IoT Technology and the Future Vision in Thailand." The moderator was Jarit Sidhu, Research Manager at IDC Research (Thailand) Co., Ltd. The panelists were Hester Chew, CEO of McThai Co., Ltd., McDonald's Thailand, Ittaya Sirivasukarn, CEO of INSEE Digital Co., Ltd., an affiliate of Siam City Cement Group Company, and Yoshikuni Takashige, Vice President, Marketing Strategy, Fujitsu Limited. The four experts on the stage exchanged their opinions on the use of IoT from their respective points of view.
IoT Makes Valuable Data Accessible
Mr. Chew and Ms. Sirivasukarn presented their approaches to IoT. Mr. Chew introduced how IoT is being used in store innovation. The company implemented a new ordering system in which customers place orders using digital self-order panels installed at stores and pick up their products at the counter. The system allows customers the option of queuing at the counter to order or using the self-ordering kiosk. This is particularly beneficial to foreigners and family with kids in hand.
He emphasized the importance of collecting data using IoT technology saying, "At McDonald's, we need to predict types of orders, the amount of patties necessary, required amount of cooking time, and the volume of french fry sales." He also described the benefit of utilizing data; the digital self-order panels now have different patterns of menu presentation based on purchase data such as time, place, and details of orders as well as purchase trends.
Mr. Chew explained another benefit of implementing such a new technology is that managers have more time to spend on customer service as a result of their workload having been reduced. He also mentioned that the company has started using online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and LINE in the last two and a half years. He said reducing the amount of TV commercials has saved advertising costs and has allowed the company to maintain flexibility regarding the budget.
Siam City Cement Taking on the Challenge of Factory Digital Transformation
Next, Ms. Sirivasukarn presented Siam City Cement Group's approach to IoT. Noting that Thailand’s aging population is expected to accelerate over the next 10 years—causing even worse staffing shortages—she emphasized that accepting new technology would be the key to success for businesses. Mentioning that Siam City Cement Group was currently in the midst of its digital innovation, she commented that, "It's the speed of coming up with necessary measures that is the key to success. While human resources are decreasing, we are studying how to use them effectively as well as what needs to be done to make equipment smart and more efficient."
She then stated that IoT will allow companies to access information that was previously unavailable and that this made utilizing IoT valuable. She explained that controllers and sensors can provide information from plant machines, making it possible to predict which ones are susceptible to failures. Predicting machine problems by means of AI-based round-the-clock monitoring will allow machines to be replaced as necessary, instead of periodically, thus reducing costs. She also gave advice to the visitors saying, "If you are unsure of how IoT should be used in your manufacturing business, I suggest first using it in factories. You can collect a lot of information from factory machines."
"Considering Business Goals" is What's Important about Utilizing IoT
Then, Mr. Sidhu asked the panelists what needs to be paid attention to concerning the use of IoT. Takashige answered this question saying, "We must consider our business goal. In addition to exploring the type of benefits IoT can bring to business, the level to which costs are reduced, and the amount sales increase, studying in detail the method of improving customers' business efficiency is the road to success." He highlighted in his comment the importance of clarifying of a business model.
Ms. Sirivasukarn commented, "It is important to identify the business advantage of utilizing IoT and think how it can help the customer. I would recommend start by implementing IoT on a small scale and expanding later while testing how it works." She then added, "We must broaden our imagination on how we can help the customer and consider what kind of data will be necessary. We must ask ourselves what kind of data is important enough to change business dramatically and work hard to obtain it. Technology can help us achieve this goal."
Mr. Chew then offered his opinion saying, "It is necessary to consider why we want to use this technology. You will find that your ultimate objective is to improve system efficiency and offer better services. Being aware that you are working to make customers' lives better is important."
Takashige also emphasized the importance of utilizing data saying, "Utilizing IoT for the sake of IoT is not enough; we must link it to data analysis or analytics. I cannot emphasize the importance of data enough. We must connect all analytics, security, and cloud platforms to offer better services to customers and at the same time allow employees to also benefit from such services."
In closing, Mr. Sidhu said, "Successfully implementing IoT depends on whether a company is strategic. Your creativity is the key." The panel discussion covered the current state and importance of implementing and utilizing IoT in Thailand and provided a glimpse of the possibilities of IoT.