Software at the Thai forefront

Quality innovation gives Thailand a competitive boost in the area of multimedia application development, says market analyst.

Thailand's Ministry of ICT (MICT) has been keeping busy promoting and supporting local software companies through the Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), in a bid to boost this sector and fulfill one of the key objectives laid out in its second Information Communication Technology (ICT) Master Plan.

According to Aishwarya Kapoor, IDC's Thailand associate market analyst, SIPA promotes the sector in four main areas: animation and multimedia, enterprise software, mobile applications and embedded software.

"In recent years, Thailand's multimedia industry has grown to cover a wide range of digital content, namely, animation, Web and graphics design, video games, software and mobile games," said Kapoor in an e-mail interview.

Among these applications, games appeals to Thai developers most because there are fewer compliance requirements involved, compared to other applications such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management, said AMI-Partners senior research analyst Jason Loh.

Kapoor said: "High levels of creativity and a cost-performance advantage make Thailand very competitive in this field."

Animation and multimedia aside, the MICT and SIPA also have their eyes on other areas of software development. For example, together, they introduced the IT Workforce Development in Enterprise Software initiative in 2006 to promote and improve ICT professionals in the development of enterprise applications based on Sun Microsystems' Java platform.

"From a technology perspective, Thailand has the right expertise and exposure in developing software for clients," Loh said in an e-mail interview. "Technologies such as Microsoft .Net, Java or open source and even Web 2.0, are not new to the local developers."

To be a software hub, the AMI-Partners analyst said, Thailand needs to look at its ability to ensure language localization and other industry compliances, especially in providing services to international clients.

He noted that to compete in the global market, Thai developers must work together to promote more international-centric applications that would appeal to foreign companies.

"Getting more experience in developing applications for foreign companies in Thailand would contribute well to a good profile," Loh said. In terms of labor costs, he added that Thailand faces strong competition from India and China.