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With high growth and digital-savvy population, Thailand is a top market for Red Hat

Red Hat views Thailand as one of its top markets due to the country’s high growth and digital-savvy population, says a senior executive of the US-based open source software company.

Marjet Andriesse, Red Hat’s General Manager and Senior Vice President for Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ), said that Thailand is a “very high growth market for us” and the kingdom’s readiness for digital transformation is “very, very high”.

She pointed out that Thailand – with a population of 69 million – comes third globally in terms of the number of electronic payments after India and China, which have a combined population of 3 billion. For her, the high adoption rate of e-transactions proves that Thai consumers are generally digital savvy.

Andriesse said that in the current era of artificial intelligence (AI), Red Hat’s proposition to the market is open hybrid cloud, focusing on its three platforms – RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux), OpenShift, and Ansible. In the APJ region, its focus is on four industries with “a big opportunity” – financial services, telecoms, government, and manufacturing, she added.

“We are there to support any company on their AI journey. … We will continue to grow in the enterprise market, but also in the SME market. We will do that with our partners, with our ecosystem. We do not want to do that by ourselves,” the executive said.

Founded in 1993, Red Hat is a leading US-based provider of enterprise open source solutions. It is now a subsidiary of IBM following the acquisition in July 2019.

Strong partner ecosystem

Andriesse, citing Red Hat’s motto “Partner First, Customer Always”, stressed her company’s strong partner ecosystem. “As an open source company, we do not believe in a world where we are ‘the’ technology partner. … There is no way that one technology company has all the answers. You’re going to have to work together, and that is why we are investing heavily in our partner ecosystem,” she said.

“As a technology company, you cannot only deploy the technology. You also need to understand what the customer needs are.”

She added that Red Hat aims to be the main AI platform to support customer workloads wherever they are deployed – whether it is on premises, in the cloud, in multi clouds, or a combination of those.

“That is our strength. Then we will work with the ecosystem to make it stronger and to make sure that the customers have what they need. … There are going to be many more workloads that are driven by AI. With our OpenShift platform, it is very easy for us to support the deployment of those workloads,” she said.

Tech firm with open culture

Andriesse, who joined Red Hat four years ago, said that the company is famous for not only its open source technology, but also its open culture.

“We try to keep away from something called hierarchy. Obviously, you need to have a structure in a certain way, but hierarchy is something different. We are a company that is led by meritocracy,” she said.

“Anybody that has a good idea in a true open source way can bring that to the table. That means that it’s not just the managers or the bosses that have the good ideas. And that makes the company very flat.”

For her, it is the people and the technology that make Red Hat a “wonderful company”.

Inclusivity and diversity

Andriesse also said that Red Hat promotes inclusivity and diversity, in terms of gender, culture, and ethnicity. She noted that several multinationals tend to have only one nationality in their leadership team. But for her, it is the hybrid approach of having more gender diversity and more cultural diversity that makes a company strong.

She proudly stated that all Red Hat country managers in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, are female – “and they are doing exceptionally well”.

Red Hat’s Thailand Country Manager is Supannee Amnajmongkol.

Underlining the importance of inclusivity, Andriesse said Red Hat has many employees with deep technological knowledge but it also needs people who are able to make a bridge between the company and its customers.

“You need different kinds of people to be successful. If you base your company on these open source principles, then by default you are more inclusive and therefore there is room for [any employee] to be successful,” she said.

Andriesse said she is proof of how inclusive Red Hat is as a company. “I am not an engineer. I think I am the only executive in Red Hat that is not an engineer.”

Allaying fears of AI

Commenting on the negative impacts of AI technology, Supannee said she is convinced that AI will enable people instead of making them redundant at work. She said that as far as businesses are involved, a strong, stable and scalable foundation is needed to host the AI technology and serve as the platform that businesses can manage by themselves.

“Open AI infrastructure and open AI platform are in our DNA as we are an open source company. We are able to provide a secure, scalable and stable platform for our customers,” she said.

Supannee also said that Red Hat’s Thailand unit has two strategies involving AI technology – boosting the capability of its products with AI to make them “more intelligent” and aiming to become the “de facto AI platform” for its customers.

According to her, Red Hat is looking for a partnership with the Thai government while working with its customers to enhance AI readiness in Thailand.

Andriesse added that government support is key in boosting AI readiness, and APJ markets have seen different levels of maturity.  She gave as an example the Singapore government, which is investing heavily in AI, while there are still regional markets that are not so mature and their AI readiness is not as strong.

“If you look at the company side, we’ve been talking about digital transformation for quite a long time. Still, you need to have a digital-first culture and a digital-first workforce,” she said, pointing to large skill gaps between APJ countries.

Regarding concerns over the negative impacts of AI, Andriesse said the world has seen three technological “revolutions” since the turn of the century, starting with the big dotcom wave, then cloud computing, and now AI.

“I see AI as something beautiful for the future. With every revolution that we go through, we have to be careful what we do. But I don’t see concerns. I see opportunities. We just need to embrace the opportunities,” the Red Hat executive said.

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