How can we catch up with the worldwide trends of digital evolution and more so, get ahead of the curve? The answer is simple: achieving digital welfare, bolstering digital literacy and having a national digitization strategy with transparent channels.

Digitalization is not a question of if, but when. And the when cannot be postponed anymore. If we have learnt anything during the pandemic is that we waste enormous amounts of time and resources if we don't act fast and efficiently. Digital solutions are up for grabs. To serve the people of Thailand, we only need to put it in motion strategically.

Eighty percent of the Thais own a smartphone which sounds nice at first, but how many of them are using digital assets to get ahead in their daily lives and be efficient in their jobs, or solve their government-related issues?

If we listen closely to the people, we can see clearly how we can have the upper hand:

1. Making the digital infrastructure of the government efficient, by introducing easy to use applications (ex. Online tax filing, E-wallet, etc);

2. Encouraging and training people to use the solutions by granting them easy access, designed to their specific needs and reducing the cost of owning and using smartphones;

3. Helping businesses to focus their efforts on productivity instead of wasting resources on administrative roadblocks;

4. Attracting foreign capital to Thailand by having a sound and trustworthy digital ecosystem between public and private sectors.

Listening to people, overcoming greed/corruption and looking for viable solutions are the turnkey in unlocking growth, the growth of our society and economic well-fare. If digital is the means, people are the cause. I am well aware that digital transformation is not going to happen overnight. It takes years to embed it and cultivate trust towards it. But being more efficient and resourceful has never been as urgent as today.

The world is turning digital faster than anyone could have anticipated. This pandemic has taught us that the world and the people are fragile and in need of constantly being on the watch for their wellbeing and that of those they care about. If we can't be fast, and efficient, the fast paced changes will do their natural selection, and only those who have known to build the necessary skills and knowhow will actually survive. But is this the point? It isn't.

Thailand, whilst numerically seems to be digital savvy, doesn't offer close to enough opportunities and possibilities for Thais to improve their lives in the digital age.

From my point of view, digital literacy in Thailand shouldn't just be about numbers. In fact, that is only a small fraction of it. My plan is to provide the people of Thailand with a comprehensive, long-term plan, providing them with opportunities to learn and gain the necessary digital skills to keep up with the latest global trends in the job market. No one shall be left behind.

A nationwide effort to increase the level of digital literacy should start from the bottom. That means that the first step is adjusting the education system to fit the digital age we're living in. Teaching the younger generation on the three principles of Using, Understanding and Creating, as the three factors that represent the technical fluency that's needed to engage with computers and the Internet, will foster better understanding of the ever-changing world we live in and enable our younger generation to better adapt to it.

Additionally, as a second step, the people of Thailand would greatly benefit from specifically designed programs to build skills and gain the necessary knowledge, which would enhance their horizons in the job market. One of the models applicable in this case could be the "Teaching Skills that Matter in Adult Education – Project based learning." I want my fellow Thais to be offered the opportunities I was offered while living abroad. I want every Thai person to have the chance to grow and create a better life for themselves and their families.

This program, once in place, will be accessible, but not limited to those employed who want to enhance their skills, those unemployed who are looking for opportunities, youngsters who want to increase their income and/or advance their careers, etc.

By setting up a viable national digitization strategy with transparent channels in which the rules are clear, not only would the corruption rate decrease but also we could guide the people towards higher paying jobs.

The premise is simple. The implementation requires hard work and full dedication – the one thing that has accompanied me everywhere I've been, in my entire life. We're in this together. No one shall be left behind.

It's time for Thailand to start a digital transformation, now more than ever.

Thuntee Ruben Sukchotrat is Director of Digital Transformation for Thai Sang Thai Party