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Thailand’s information and technology spending is on track for double-digit growth this year, helped by the national e-payment scheme and the development of Thailand 4.0 initiative, reports the Bangkok Post.

Thailand 4.0 refers to the development of a value added economy of innovation and creativity, a government backed initiative.

“The growth is to come from both the public and private sectors, especially the financial sector,” said Supakit Tiyawatchalapong, managing director of Computer Union. Despite the economic slowdown, both agencies and private firms are increasingly moving towards modernizing their systems to survive in the new era of competition and growth.

Modernising data infrastructure, especially data centre updates and consolidation, adopting cloud computing technology and big data analytics can cut costs and enhance business agility.

Businesses are shifting IT budgets to software and IT services to enable infrastructure management, rather than only build hardware.

Andrew Yeong, general manager of Asia-Pacific for Lexmark International said that the company is now offering enterprise solutions to help users manage their documents.

“A mobile workforce needs access to information any time, anywhere. More and more employees rely on mobile devices to work,” he says.

However, despite the positive outlook for Thailand’s IT sector, it appears that the country knows very little about the government’s 4.0 initiative. According to a survey carried out by the Thai Chamber of Commerce, 58% of respondents in the SME sector said they do not know much about Thailand 4.0.

What is Thailand 4.0?

According to Bangkok Post, Thailand 4.0 is the vision of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his government to revamp the economy so it is driven by creativity and innovation. The goal is to move the country out of the middle-income trap.

Thailand 1.0 was retroactively used to describe the period when agriculture was the major economic driver while 2.0 focused on light industries. Thailand 3.0 relied on heavy industries and exports.

A version of this appeared in The Bangkok Post on September 1. Read the full version here

Malaysia’s less than favorable internet speed is harming the country’s aspirations in building an accelerated digital economy, reports Digital News Asia.

Ecommerce is set to be one of the key drivers of Malaysia’s digital economy, but that aspiration may be dampened by the relatively slow internet speeds available in the country, according to Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.

Malaysia’s average internet speed of 7.3Mbps was far below the global average of 23Mbps.

In comparison, Singapore enjoys an average connection speed of 122Mbps and even a developing country like Indonesia is fast catching up, with average speeds of 6Mbps. The Indonesian government has also announced that it aims to overtake Malaysia by 2019.

It is well known that consumers are less likely to shop or partake in online activities if the connection is not up to par. Malaysia’s notoriously slow internet speeds are often the subject of irritation by consumers and corporates. The worrying implication is that the growth of ecommerce will be affected if the connectivity does not improve.

In terms of data speed and affordability in the mobile space, Malaysia is not far off from other countries, but the big gap lies within broadband connectivity. This responsibility falls right under the Malaysian Communication and multimedia commission’s charter, and should be fixed as soon as possible.

It does not help that Communications and Multimedia Minister Dr Salleh Said Keruak was quoted as saying that Malaysians choose to pay less for slower Internet speeds instead of spending more on fast connections.

Malaysia’s online market is set to grow to $21 billion by 2025, mainly with ecommerce as a key driver, which would record an expected compound annual growth rate of 24%. However, it is falling behind in investments, despite the country’s promising ecommerce potential. Malaysia is also falling behind in terms of foreign direct investment in the Southeast Asian region, which is mainly going to Singapore and Indonesia.

A version of this appeared in Digital News Asia on July 20. Read the full version here.