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Artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity protection and new automated production tools will be given spending priority for businesses as they gear up for digital transformation in 2020, says Microsoft (Thailand).

"Thai businesses are enthusiastic about investing in emerging technologies that give them a competitive advantage in digital transformation despite a weak economy," said Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand, the local operating unit of the global technology firm.


Banking, property, utility, energy, manufacturing and telecom are among the top segments projected for outlays on technology, Mr Dhanawat said.


They are ready to capitalise on technologies, ranging from cloud computing to AI and Internet of Things (IoT) that can help empower their business and move towards digital transformation.


The rise of technology adoption is evident as cloud service has grown by double digits the past two years, while that of Microsoft Azure expanded by triple digits, he said.


Microsoft's revenue from cloud-based service accounts for 50% of its total earnings and it is expected to reach 70-80% within two years.


Mr Dhanawat said AI is expected to be integrated in more core business operations and adopted to tackle business problems in 2020.


For example, AI can be used by telecom operators to introduce their products, he said. Grab Food uses AI to help customers have better experiences using its services.


Some businesses offer AI-enabled engines to come up with new business models. IoT could also help companies save energy costs, said Mr Dhanawat.


He said it is important for organisations to enhance digital skills for their workforce and make more use of technology to drive their business.


Next month, the company plans to introduce Microsoft Power Platform, where ordinary business users can build their own business applications with less or no coding.


It will also roll out Power BI, which enables interactive data visualisation, and Microsoft Flow, which makes it easier for businesses to gather different sources of data and documents.


Mr Dhanawat said these tools will help address the shortage of workers in digital fields and boost productivity and efficiency.

"In Thailand there are 380,000 digital skilled workers. If we just focus on training people for new skills, the number cannot catch up with business speeds," he said.


"The important thing is ideas that can help businesses make a difference with an advantage and creating uniqueness for their business."


Organisations are gearing up for cybersecurity and data loss prevention in part because of the roll-out of the Cybersecurity Act and Personal Data Protection Act, said Mr Dhanawat.


Cybercrime is estimated to cost US$8 trillion in losses globally by 2022.


"Security is mandatory for business now," he said.