Multi-national operator Veon put digital at the heart of a new strategy announced today (3 September), despite a high-profile shuttering of its digital platform efforts earlier this year.

In a statement short on specifics and big on vision, Veon said its long-term goal is to become “a communications and digital services provider that empowers customer ambitions by acting as a digital concierge to guide their choices and connect resources that match their needs.”

It laid out three business areas: a mobile and fixed line Connectivity services division it regards as “fundamental” to the group; a portfolio of New Services built around digital technologies, which will be backed by big data and AI; and a Future Assets pillar which “seeks to identify, acquire and develop technologies that open up adjacent growth opportunities”.

Veon stressed that while the Connectivity focus will remain the group’s core business, growth is likely to be spurred from the New Services and Future Assets pillars.

No financial details for investment were revealed. Alex Kazbegi, group Chief Strategy Officer, noted that over the next 18 months Veon will increase network capex in its core Russian market “to allow us to drive medium-term service revenue growth.” In Pakistan, Kazbegi also stated “there may be the opportunity to increase our stake in the business through the existing put option with Warid”.

“We also believe stepping-up our investment in Digital Financial Services in Pakistan is an exciting first step in Future Assets.”

Veon hit the headlines earlier this year when it laid off around 200 staff associated with the closure of its digital platform initiative. Incorporating an app offering messaging and content services in markets such as Russia and Pakistan, it struggled to attract users. A management reshuffle followed, including the hiring of new CEO Ursula Burns.

It was thought Veon was giving up on its digital strategy altogether and going back to its telecoms roots, but the operator appears to be keeping digital services development as a priority.

The group also today announced it is raising its core profit growth forecast for 2019. The company said EBITDA will grow by at least mid-single digits, up from a previous forecast of low- to mid-single digit growth. In 2018, it reported EBITDA of $3.27 billion.