Google has launched a new initiative in Thailand aimed at getting Thai businesses online and making more of the potential of the Internet.
The Nation reports that the initiative, which is being launched first in Southeast Asia through Thailand, is in partnership with the Office of SME Promotion (OSMEP), the Thai eCommerce Association, Dot Arai and Web Biz.
The "Thai Business Go Online campaign" comes hot on the heels of the company's first commercial campaign in the country, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. The initiative is tasked with getting small to midsize businesses (SMBs) utilizing the Web, no easy task give that, according to statistics, just 10 percent of Thailand's 2.9 million SMBs are online.
The program has an initial of getting 50,000 more SMBs onto the Web, but what is stopping them?
According to the OSMEP, though most SMEs acknowledge the Internet as an excellent opportunity to increase sales and improve customer communication and service, many avoid doing so as they seek a simple explanation and model to help them include the value of the Web into their everyday business transactions and values.
The campaign fits right within the objectives Google's head in Thailand spelled out to me in a recent interview.
"In line with our four focus areas, we want to help Thai businesses become more competitive and level the playing field.Â Thousands of Thai businesses already use Google products--Search, AdWords, Google Maps, Google Apps and Google Mobile Apps--as a core part of their business," Google Thailand's Pornthip Kongchun explained. The company is working with local partners to "sustain the online advertising ecosystem in Thailand", she said, part of which includes advertising and business-service relaated resellers as well as a dedicated AdWords call center.
[youtube]iHBEJOAEt2E[/youtube] The most recent TVC (see embedded video) released by Google focuses on the potential of the Web for businesses. The advert tells the story of Wootinun Sung-Ong, the owner of Muay Thai Stuff, and how his passion for the sport as a child grew into a business that has used to get to grow its base internationally. Interestingly, Wootinun is not well-known in Thailand because his business has been so successful in overseas markets using the Web.
Google has spoken of its commitment to and focus on Thailand, and while this campaign and promotion of Google business services has obvious monetary benefits to the company, I hope the company will continue to work on addressing the digital divide in Thailand--with a focus on the potential of the Web for communities and those that do not currently enjoy it.