Transforming a leading energy supplier into a digital-first business
As one of the UK’s top energy suppliers, E.ON Next needed a new digital self-service customer portal to support the migration of millions of npower customers onto a single platform. The goal was to significantly reduce operating costs, allow E.ON to fully manage all aspects of customers’ requirements in one place, and boost the digital product experience for new and existing customers.
From a technical perspective, our aim was to create a mobile-first, statically rendered web application that allows for easy deployments and scaling to millions of customers, with no increase in hosting or operational demands. A system that allows E.ON Next to iterate, innovate and adapt without a hitch as technology and behaviours continue to shift.
The utility sector is a highly commoditised and price-driven market. But with the explosion of choice in energy suppliers unencumbered by legacy infrastructure – and a big appetite for digital tools among customers – there is a strong opportunity to do things differently. The focus is now slowly shifting towards moving out of the ‘low interest’ category and creating solutions that help utility brands avoid becoming a commodities provider that most customers barely notice – until they get a bill that’s calculated wrong, the meter reading that’s incorrect, or the price that has gone up again.
We had just seven sprints to get E.ON Next’s self-service portal from nothing to a Minimum Loveable Product (MLP). The added challenge was that the entire project was undertaken during the first lockdown. Taking the initial brief in March 2020, around the same time as COVID-19 has caused chaos and shut down the world, Somo had to quickly establish a new effective, agile and transparent way of remote working and customer testing to ensure the entire Somo and E.ON Next teams were set up and capable of working at an immensely rapid pace to launch the product in time.
Never meeting in person, and working with over 100 staff and 10 different suppliers, the teams needed to overcome complexities presented by legacy infrastructure, large scale customer migration requirements and lockdown to design, build and test the platform that fully meets the business and customer needs.
Working closely with E.ON Next’s digital and technology teams, and a number of external partners led by AWS and Kraken Technology, we’ve created an innovative, sector-leading digital product experience from scratch, launching the MLP within just 14 weeks.
We designed and built the front-end application on top of the Kraken platform, the back-end infrastructure of disruptor company Kraken Technologies, allowing customers to access billing history, payment functions, usage and product data, and customer service all in one place. This was the first use of Kraken by a legacy utility company in the UK, and a completely new direction for E.ON Next, setting a new precedent in the sector.
New services outside of the Kraken platform are developed and deployed on AWS Lambda, for example, to provide short-term payment integration and API mirroring support. There is extensive use of AWS DevOps for monitoring and ongoing optimisation of the customer-facing platform and the creation of CI/CD pipelines setup with Terraform.
Built on core AWS technologies guided by Amazon’s Well-Architecture principles of speed, scale and ongoing optimisation, the website is hosted via Amazon S3 using AWS Cloudfront and AWS Route 53. This was achieved by building a series of deployment pipelines hosted on Amazon EC2 cluster and content provided by Contentful CMS.
Other AWS tools deployed include AppStream implementation to allow call centre staff to access Windows applications and Device Farm for mobile application deployment.
We delivered a new best-in-class UX, designed and built a full end-to-end journey, and developed key functionality enabling seamless migration of millions of npower customers onto the E.ON Next platform.
The end result not only offers a much more effective, enjoyable and meaningful digital product experience with self-service capabilities, but also massively reduces operating costs and cost-to-serve.
The use of cutting-edge technologies and new ways of working set up as part of this project has also allowed E.ON Next to be more agile and innovative on its platform moving forward – helping them (and their customers) discover a truly bright future.
What the client said
"Somo not only fulfilled the challenging brief we presented but did so impressively during an incredibly turbulent lockdown period. We worked collaboratively ensuring targets and objectives were clear and there were no bottlenecks in process and development. We had a short timeline to develop something that not only migrated existing customers over but offered a relatively seamless transition, whilst also maintaining full functionality to ensure our product was always accessible. We are dedicated to enhancing our service, utilising digital tools to offer a more trusted and meaningful service for all of our customers."