Partners in network
The energy sector is going through massive changes as new technologies come to the market and environmental pressure forces to work towards more sustainable solutions. Caruna has a strong focus to help their customers to cut emissions and pave the way for sustainable energy solutions.
The challenge comes on identifying the true customer needs on a fresh new market and creating services that have value for the end-customer. When developing digital services for an unknown and changing market – the need for rapid decisions and lean ways of working are requisite for success.
It all began with hackathon. We had been chosen to be one of the participants in a hackathon co-organised by Caruna and Industryhack. The challenge was to design and prototype a solution that enables energy distribution and monitoring in a single district including various types of individual houses. The houses were marked either as energy producers or consumers. We used real energy consumption data, anonymised of course, collected from Caruna’s customers.
After the hackathon we got an opportunity to compete with building a marketplace for future energy solutions. Caruna collaborated with Roger Studio concepting the marketplace and when we were chosen to be the technical partner, a team was born that had all the skills needed to create digital services from start to finish.
After revisions of the service concepts and technological decisions – we knew that experimenting was the only way to start launching these services. In terms of UX, the service had to be convenient and simple enough to attract both Caruna’s customers and partners. User experience is a major factor for the success of digital services – and for a two-sided marketplace platform, it’s twice as important. We focused on satisfying the end-customer from the very beginning and only to provide services that are ecologically sustainable.
Keeping the tight schedule in mind; we focused on building the most essential parts first and not being afraid of launching the first version of the marketplace as soon as possible. First we focused on launching the solar panel service, where customers could compare different service providers and request an offer.
Technology wise everything was to be built on Azure cloud platform as it was the client’s preferred cloud provider and we used Azure’s serverless functions for backend. To provide geolocation data, we used Postgis extension with our Postgres database. Frontend was written with React using Next.js framework and the stack was finalised with setting up the continuous delivery pipeline with Azure DevOps.
When it comes to energy services – the hardest part is to communicate all the small aspects related to these solutions in a simple and approachable way. We worked to keep a few design principles in mind; ease of navigation, human-centric design, consistent brand look, and appealing visual language.
Soon after the first launch, we focused on concepting and designing new services to the marketplace. Caruna's innovation team had done work with electric car charging solutions and this was certainly a service that needed to be part of the marketplace. The key feature was that Caruna's customers could check their charging capacity and be then able to find the most suitable charger for their needs. We built integrations to Caruna API that provided customer consumption data that became the central feature when the user had logged in to the marketplace.
In addition to the end-customer marketplace; we created a specifically designed admin portal for partners to track orders, add and edit products, and to keep company information up to date. This took workload off from the Caruna’s personnel and freed resources to other business critical tasks.
Even though we started with an MVP-level project in the beginning – the marketplace grew quickly to a strategically important service, known nowadays as Virtane, for Caruna to serve their customers in the digital era. With the success of venturing boldly to the unknown; we are seeing a growing number of visitors to the site and more partners joining the marketplace every day. This is surely a strong indication of the interest that is growing about energy services and solutions as a whole, and being part of the change for a greener future.