Introduction To Business in Thailand

Whether you are setting up a completely new business in Thailand, or just launching a new branch, the way you structure your company’s IT components can determine its success or failure. 

Clarity IT is a Bangkok-based one-stop complete IT solution and service provider, with experience providing IT maintenance and support as well as consulting and project delivery. 

We met with Jack Nathan, Clarity’s Solution Director to create an IT checklist that should help you get started on the right foot.

Setting up a new Thai company – Where to start? 

One of the most apparent IT necessities for any new venture is the hardware. 

Nowadays, every type of business in Thailand needs at least a few computers to run day-to-day operations –  marketing, accounting, operations, R&D, and pretty much any other facet of the business you can imagine, see efficiency boosts and operational improvements when a degree of digitization and computer usage are brought to play. 

When buying computers we must choose between Desktop or Laptop machines, according to our business requirements:

Desktop PCs vs. Laptops

Desktops 

Desktops come with better processors and are usually cheaper, but require more space for setting up and get affected when there are power fluctuations. They make the best sense when the position where they’re planned for usage is static, and the person using them is expected to only ever need them only at that location.  

Laptops

Laptops are great for portability and make perfect sense for employees who work on the go, like sales agents, field reps, etc., but they might be limiting when it comes to upgrade options or affordable computing power.

Phones & Phone Systems

Phones and phone systems are your company’s communication lifeline, making their selection another important decision you need to consider. If you need multiple lines, a Private Automatic Branch Exchange (or “PABX” system), is a solution that provides a designated extension number to all the devices connected to it. These devices can be desk phones, fax machines or Multi Function Printers (MFP). PABX systems are routinely used by medium companies, enterprises and call centers, and are robust enough to handle large call volumes.

International Calls

Thinking on the global scale, you need to ask yourself how much of your phone usage is likely to be for international calls. If you have global offices you need to speak to regularly, digital and IP phones are a great option, since they’re internet based they represent a massive saving in international phone call costs and can be configured to make calling a brand in another country as simple as dialing in to the extension down the hallway.

Cabling

OK, so you’ve got computers and phones all sorted, the next step is connecting them so that you can work together in teams/departments. It’s time for network cabling… 

The easiest solution is to minimize cabling and keep to connecting between Wireless Access Points, while using Wi-Fi for all devices, alternatively you can choose to run cables between all devices: PCs, printers, servers and your external communication (leased lines or internet).

Servers vs. Cloud

Thinking about how your core applications support your business is one of the most important considerations you need to resolve before starting operations – A failing server can cause your business devastating losses. The choice of whether to host applications in-house and on premise, on the cloud, or as a hybrid solution is one that can make or break your business, particularly during periods of adversity. Let’s look at some pros and cons of in-house servers and cloud:

In-house servers

In-house servers are great for ensuring physical control and security over data and can be configured to meet whatever regulatory and compliance requirements are demanded by legislators in your jurisdiction. They can be more cost effective in certain conditions, and their most salient benefit is that they have no dependencies on internet access in order to work.

Their biggest disadvantage is that you need to hire an IT specialist to manage and maintain them. When servers are poorly maintained, badly secured or not properly backed-up; the results can lead to catastrophic data losses or breaches. 

Cloud

Cloud hosting outsources the most painful issues related to hosting to large and highly experienced global brand-names that have made eradicating those concerns the heart of their business. 

Cloud hosting with Amazon, Microsoft Azure, Google, Huawei, or any of the other innumerable options that are available on the market offer the benefits of flexibility, scalability, security and convenience. Not to mention peace of mind. 

The cons of these services are mostly cost and compliance associated. Some types of data are simply legally forbidden to be hosted on “the cloud”.

Email Provider

While most corporates don’t normally allow branch offices to select their own email provider SMEs have more flexibility and choices tend to be driven by whatever the founder / CEO is most comfortable with. The two primary providers being Google (i.e. Gmail for business), and Microsoft Office 365 (Outlook). 

  • Google (Google Apps): Gmail users often access their mail using the web. Relying on Google’s clean, familiar and universal interface. Google apps are a full fledged office suite that includes all the software you normally need to run a business: Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, and more. 
  • Microsoft (Office 365): Microsoft integrated their Exchange email server into a cloud solution called Offices 365. The email works best with an outlook either as a web interface or offline application. Office 365 also includes the very familiar Microsoft Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You can choose to rent your Office licenses on a SAAS basis, instead of buying them. 
  • POP3/IMAP: There are many email providers that offer these options, whose affordability makes them popular for companies with limited budgets. Typically they offer unlimited mailboxes, but the size of each box is limited to about 5 GB. Mail transmission is also typically less secure than the previous options. An important distinction between these two technologies is that while POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) require the user to download the complete message from the server to the client, IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) keeps the message on the server and allows the user to download only a preview, making it the faster of the two.

Having your own server: For proprietary confidential information and compliance matters this is one of the best options. For companies with 2,000 mailboxes and over, having your own server is possibly the most cost-effective option.

Note that the first three email solutions outlined above cannot support mass emailing campaigns, and will require a company to rely on a 3rd party solution for any such planned activities.

Website & Website Domain

The web is Southeast Asia’s fastest growing brand engagement channel. The move to the Internet is being accelerated even more by the impacts of Covid-19. Simply put your website, on mobile, is likely to be the 1st, and most commonly used touch-point for your brand. A poorly designed site will cost you not only immediate losses of opportunity, but will also have a durable negative impact on your company’s credibility.

Whether your looking to build a brand website that will drive leads and inquiries, or aiming to launch an ecommerce site that will generate direct sales, building an effective website requires managing three complementary efforts:

  • Preparing content - To address your audience’s needs, and explain how you help them accomplish their goals. 
  • Design - Designing your website’s user experience (UX) & user interfaces (UI) to help your audience achieve their goals quickly & effectively, 
  • Development - Writing secure code & using the right software tools to provide a secure, reliable, & cost-effective web site that’s in compliance with industry best practices.

One of the first decisions to make as you build your website is what will your domain be. You’ll want to think about your company size and whether you’re B2B or B2C – MNCs need to protect their domain globally, a concern that isn’t shared by SMEs.Some common domain names variations are:

  • .com - Most preferred and commonly registered, a .com confers a degree of credibility that other TLDs do not. Unfortunately with over 130 million .com domains already registered, the cool domains are becoming tougher and tougher to find.
  • .co - more expensive compared to .com, but tends to be easier to get since most companies prefer .com as their top choice
  • .co.th - difficult to establish but comes with a sense of credibility, guarantees that our company actually exists - underrated by a lot of people, but should be one that companies aim for as a first choice when choosing a domain name

Conclusion

Setting up a new business in Thailand, or branch office (or indeed anywhere) is a huge undertaking, and while entrepreneurs are often focused on the human and financial resources required to realize their vision, it’s increasingly the case that IT infrastructure questions are no less important. 

Setting up your business to correctly leverage the operational opportunities a solid IT infrastructure delivers can often make the difference between success and failure. 

 

If you’re ready to start leveraging the internet to take your company to the next level, reach out to us – We’re happy to help!