From Thailand to Norway, Telenor expands Artificial Intelligence positions

Yesterday’s launch of a new artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory by Telenor’s Thailand operator, dtac, highlights a second AI investment within Telenor Group’s global footprint in under a week.

Published: 17 August 2018 08:29

In partnership with Thammasat University’s Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT) in Bangkok, dtac is launching a new AI Lab which will connect data science students and leading professors with real-world business cases provided by dtac. The partnership supports both dtac’s AI strategy and its ambition to train a new generation of digital talents for Thailand.


From left: Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse, Chief People Officer, dtac; Prof. Dr. Thanaruk Theeramunkong, Thammasat University’s Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT);  Dr. Ukrit Salyapongs, Head of Channel Strategy & Performance Management Division, dtac; Dr. Pruettha Nanakorn, Deputy Director for Academic Affairs, Thammasat University’s Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT); Dr. Winn Voravuthikunchai, Data Scientist, Telenor Group.

Digital transformation has led to a competitive environment which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In response, dtac’s collaboration with SIIT is a strategic decision to collaborate with leading academics to develop and apply new technology for tomorrow’s business challenges. The collaboration is expected to aid dtac in automating its business operation process and support highly-advanced customer personalization.

“We’ve reached a point where we can simplify the customer experience and make it easier and more personalized by using artificial intelligence. It is the key to offering better services more seamlessly. In the future, AI will allow customers walking into our shops to receive recommendations based on their usage without having to explain how they currently use their smartphone,” said Dr. Ukrit, Head of Channel Strategy & Performance Management Division at dtac.

dtac is currently revamping its stores to introduce touchscreen interfaces and salespersons equipped with mobile devices, a series of foundational changes to make the dtac customer experience smoother. With artificial intelligence, dtac will move further towards “invisible interfaces,” where facial recognition and voice-operated devices allow services to be delivered seamlessly.

dtac is investing 12 million baht (USD 400,000) in the lab over two years. Through providing anonymized data and real business challenges, students can work on developing applicable solutions. As a start, dtac and SIIT are already collaborating on an AI-driven ID verification system that would increase safety while speeding up the process of SIM registration verification.

AI and the workplace

In addition to customer use cases, dtac’s Chief People Officer, Nardrerdee Arj-harnwongse, stressed that artificial intelligence will also transform the workplace and its workforce, which dtac is readying for an AI-powered future. dtac recently abandoned annual reviews and launched a 40-hour challenge to encourage its employees to take digital training in topics ranging from design thinking to data science. These changes are designed to help the existing workforce become more flexible and upgrade its skills in the face of rapid digital transformation.

“With the rise of machine learning, employees must focus on their strengths and learn to grow them quickly. This is essential for them to keep up with our customers changing needs. In an AI-powered business, employee centricity and customer centricity go hand in hand,” said Nardrerdee.

Meanwhile in Norway…

In Telenor Group’s home market of Norway, some of the country’s largest companies are joining forces on an expanded AI and Internet of Things (IoT) centre in Trondheim, all aiming to turn Norway into a world AI leader. Telenor Group, NTNU and SINTEF, in partnership with DNB, DNV GL, Equinor and the Kongsberg Group, are expanding their existing AI and IoT centre and are inviting additional partners to come on board. The centre will develop solutions relevant to the partners’ industries as well as explore opportunities internationally.

“Norway needs a national strategy for artificial intelligence. With the expansion of the Norwegian AI Lab, more actors can benefit from the advantages and opportunities of artificial intelligence, and Norwegian industries will strengthen their collaboration, which will ultimately contribute to such a strategy,” said Telenor Group President and CEO, Sigve Brekke.

Norway possesses a competitive advantage thanks to its advanced ICT infrastructure, purchasing power, competence and a population with above-average technological literacy. Having a strong position on artificial intelligence is central to ensuring that Norway is able and ready to compete in the global market. A strengthened AI lab also ensures that Norway can continue the tradition of collaboration between business and academia in the country.

Further details of the growing Norwegian Open AI Lab