As millions of energy customers attempted to submit their meter readings at the end of March, before prices jumped 54% in the UK, they were met by blank web pages, error messages, and apologies.
The event was an abrupt wake-up call for the industry that brings into question the resilience of its systems. Beyond securing physical assets such as generators, transmission lines and substations, we must broaden our view of grid resilience to include customers’ online accounts and software services such as electric car smart charging. Then there’s cyber security to think about – last Thursday proved to malicious actors how easily paralysed the industry’s systems can be.
This blog illustrates energy companies’ struggle to respond to the sudden uptick in demand and presents how, in contrast, Kaluza’s platform enabled OVO Energy to keep on serving and satisfying its customers when it counted most.
On 31 March, aka ‘Meter Reading Day’, energy customers across the UK rushed to upload their latest meter readings on their supplier’s website and app, but most were unable to log in:
Meanwhile, OVO Energy was still up and running:
In fact, over 15,000 meter reads CSAT surveys were completed with 88% of customers rating that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their experience. Thus not only were customers able to access and complete actions on their account, but they also engaged with OVO to provide (overwhelmingly positive) feedback – turning what could have been a service disaster into a success story.
Kaluza kept OVO ticking over
OVO Energy’s website, app and customer support systems – all powered by Kaluza’s technology – continued to operate throughout the day.
Kaluza’s platform was able to handle x14 the normal peak demand on its services as customers submitted their readings without breaching its Service Level Objectives (SLOs) to its clients, for example, on system availability and page load speed. Automated processes such as billing and managing incoming industry data continued as normal with Kaluza gathering data from customers, agents and the industry in real time, without interruption.
All of this meant that OVO’s customers were able to rely on their digital experience when they really needed it.
Kaluza’s ability to effectively respond to the demand is testament to the strength of the platform’s design. Unlike other platforms based on monolithic or ‘synchronous microservices’ models, Kaluza’s architecture is characterised by a resilient and high throughput data backbone, with distributed microservices running separately from each other. This not only provides a data platform from which critical insight and innovative energy products can be built, but also limits the scope of service issues to isolated areas, preventing a domino effect of malfunction across the platform, such as the web and mobile experiences that consumers depend on.
Kaluza also has mature operational practices and is able to automatically identify and ‘self heal’ issues, or rapidly deploy teams to fix them through well-drilled incident response. Our long-term focus on operational excellence allows our systems and processes to evolve and strengthen over time, learning and adapting to the changing landscape and preparing for the unknown.
Preventing a ‘next time’
The 31st March was a technology stress test that the industry must learn from and act upon. Given the extensive impact on both customers and businesses, it is now critical that energy companies strive to prevent incidents like this from happening again. This requires serious evaluation of legacy systems’ robustness to respond to and overcome new challenges as they emerge.
I am very proud of our product, engineering and ops teams at Kaluza. Our clients and their customers depend on us and we were able to deliver for them during yet another turbulent day for the UK’s energy market.