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VEON: the technology
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VEON: the technology

by Yogesh Malik

Taking a clean-sheet approach to digital transformation

The clean-sheet approach

VEON is more than a new name. It is about rebooting our entire system, behaving like a hustling startup, and building the next generation network from scratch. I call it the clean-sheet approach, moving forward without the legacy of existing systems. The car industry has done this with Tesla, so there is no reason why another traditional sector cannot achieve similar success with true disruption.

The starting point is always the same: if you obsess about the consumer and what they need, you will arrive at the right solution. We have taken back control of our customer relationships and made the user experience a key strand of our DNA. Our new company, VEON, will provide customers services, quality, and automation that others will end up copying.

Shredding the rulebook

We have shredded the rulebook because our organisational layers and conventional mechanisms were keeping us in the past. The legacy telcos of today still view their network as their most important asset, but it just represents high capital expenditure with low returns. Why build and own when you can share? That is why in the last two years we have been divesting our passive infrastructure and aggressively pursuing active sharing. By investing in next-generation radio access networks we are also future-proofing our business, ensuring an efficient and economic rollout of 4G/LTE services.

Embracing an asset-light model means we can dedicate more resources to providing a first class customer experience. We have been working hard to reduce voice inaccessibility, dropped-call rates and network unavailability in all of our markets. We can now make our network assets work better for us. They are more cost efficient, easier to maintain, upgrade and operate, and faster to roll out new services.

Creation of a new Digital Stack

Telcos have always possessed huge volumes of data, but were not really able to utilize their potential because of data fragmentation. With VEON, this changes. We are working through every layer of our technology landscape, to deploy a fully digital end-to-end solution to benefit our customers and the frontier economies in which we operate. The digital stack and data management platform will be the core of our IT, while our network will become software defined, intelligent and dynamic.

We possess a wealth of data which we can now use in unprecedented but secure ways, to personalise the user experience. VEON will enable our customers to quickly and conveniently manage their accounts; engage with high quality 24/7 customer support; sign on to new services, such as mobile financial services, video and music content; as well as benefit from the latest offerings provided by our local digital partners.

Bringing innovation in house

By outsourcing product development, traditional telcos failed to innovate and lost their relationship with customers to Silicon Valley upstarts. Customers and innovation are central to our VEON strategy, so why should we outsource our end-user innovation? Our product development teams in Amsterdam and London have grown from zero two years ago to around 100 of the most talented professionals today. Innovation is now an in-house VEON department.

Standing on the shoulders of local giants

New tech companies have the benefit of starting from scratch and building their architecture and infrastructure from the ground up in the most efficient way possible. I won’t deny that it has been a tough process to do this the other way round — taking an established business with all of its legacy infrastructure and architecture and turning everything on its head. But at the same time, we now possess a huge advantage over many new tech companies: our existing presence and customer relationships with over 235 million people, in some of the fastest growing digital economies in the world, gives us a great head start. We will successfully leverage our existing in-country presence across our markets, to both promote and propel our new internet platform to success.

Conclusion

To paraphrase Mark Twain: ‘If you do what you always do, you get what you always get.’ This is not the VEON way. In the last 18 months we have gone from a company delivering services using traditional, unscalable systems, to empowering our customers with innovative, digital services created in house and in partnership with some of the world’s leading technology companies. That is why our new name, VEON is so important — it represents our radical vision for the global tech company we aspire to become.

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