Thai businesses are expected to increase cloud spending this year as they prioritise investments in critical technology to help sustain normal operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, PwC Thailand says.
Businesses will likely continue to need greater infrastructure capacity to support remote working as the pandemic continues in 2021. Financial services and retail industries are expected to lead the way on cloud investments as businesses look to meet customer needs.
Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, Consulting Lead Partner and Financial Services Leader for PwC Thailand, said the pandemic has prompted more than 50% of Thai companies to widely adopt cloud-based services, particularly hybrid cloud models that can support a remote work environment.
This trend will likely persist because cloud services provide the safety and agility that businesses need to weather the crisis, she said.
"The pandemic has greatly accelerated a shift in IT strategy toward cloud services among Thai companies at a pace we've never seen before," Vilaiporn said.
"Many companies are now transitioning to a hybrid cloud thanks to its flexible, scalable and secure infrastructure that allows workers to work from home seamlessly."
Customers now have more options than in previous years when the global cloud market was still largely dominated by service providers in the US that offered only a few services such as cloud emails or other work applications for the office, Vilaiporn added. These days Chinese service providers and even those from Thailand have made inroads into the market, providing a myriad of services to the customers.
There are four main types of cloud services:
1) Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), or a cloud-based service for IT infrastructure, such as servers, storage and network administration
2) Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides a platform for users to develop and manage applications without having to build and maintain the infrastructure, such as a human resource management system, accounting system or customer relationship management (CRM) system
3) Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model that lets users access applications or programmes via the internet such as email, business applications, or video conferencing
4) Functions-as-a-Service (FaaS) allows users to develop applications and deploy functionalities without maintaining a server
Financial services providers, retailers need cloud
Financial services and retail companies will likely lead other industries in cloud spending this year as customer behaviour in both sectors has significantly changed during the pandemic, Vilaiporn said. They have embraced online shopping, paid more bills online and sought a seamless omnichannel experience.
According to the PwC report, "Can you meet customer demand for cloud computing?", the impact of COVID-19 will further drive cloud transformation in all industries as consumers demand a tech-enabled experience in all aspects of their daily lives.
Industry analyst Gartner expects worldwide IT spending to grow 4% to USD3.8trillion in 2021. It said vendors will see more revenues this year after an increase in cloud activity in 2020.
After COVID-19, Vilaiporn expects to see more open banking partnerships between the financial services and retail industries.
With open banking, banks can securely share customer financial data with other financial institutions and third-party providers such as fintech and IT companies through a standards-based technology called open Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. This will be an important opportunity to create new services for clients.
"Optimising the right IT infrastructure and cloud investment will be crucial for Thai companies to perform well in what promises to be a highly uncertain year," Vilaiporn concluded.
 Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending to Grow 4% in 2021, Gartner