“Hey Google, OpenHydro Ottawa”
Trailblazing Utility Modernizes Identity with Innovative Customer Channels
Hydro Ottawa is a regulated electricity local distribution company in eastern Ontario. As the third largest municipally owned electric utility in Ontario, Hydro Ottawa maintains one of the safest, most reliable, and most cost-effective electricity distribution systems in the province. They serve about 332,000 residential and commercial customers across 1,116 square kilometres.
Improving the experience of their customers is Hydro Ottawa’s central business strategy under their vision to become “a leading partner in a smart energy future.” As a result, they decided to take on more innovative digital projects so customers could enjoy the sort of digital experience they’re used to online.
The results include an award-winning mobile application and a smart speaker solution. Hydro Ottawa is the first utility company in Canada to offer voice-activated customer service through both Amazon Alexa and Google Home. By focusing on their customers’ needs, the trailblazers at Hydro Ottawa are giving people more ways to interact with their electricity accounts through their channel of choice. They have fully disrupted the Canadian utility industry for the better.
Moving toward single sign-on (SSO)
The Hydro Ottawa team wanted to create a solid architectural foundation for digital growth and innovation. They decided that the core of this new system would be a customer identity solution that centralizes and unifies customer identity data.
With the launch of their mobile app and a revamp of their customer web portal underway, Hydro Ottawa needed an SSO solution so their customers could log in with a single profile that also included social media validation.
Migrating 150,000 customers to a new identity platform
About 50% of Hydro Ottawa’s customers have an online account. These accounts needed to be migrated to the new platform. With the help of LoginRadius, Hydro Ottawa was able to transition and migrate over 150,000 customer accounts flawlessly, with little to no disruption in service.
Keeping data secure
The customer identity solution had to align with Hydro Ottawa security standards, and LoginRadius was an ideal fit. Through the LoginRadius Dashboard, a self-service administration console, Hydro Ottawa can safely and securely troubleshoot login or registration issues with ease and in real time.
Secure infrastructure with centralized customer data to build on
By implementing the LoginRadius customer identity solution, Hydro Ottawa offers their customers a secure, streamlined login and registration system. Single sign-on (SSO) capabilities removed the previous accessibility barriers.
With SSO, customers can move seamlessly through different Hydro Ottawa web applications without needing to sign up or log in again. Customers can easily access their accounts online to see their electricity usage and billing activities.
Hydro Ottawa took advantage of centralized customer profiles and unified customer data in LoginRadius to get a better understanding of their customers’ online behavior. These insights will have a big influence on direction as they move forward with their product innovation strategy.
Award-winning mobile application
Having improved the login experience, the team moved on to develop new interactive channels. By leveraging the identity solution and digital infrastructure already in place, Hydro Ottawa was able to release an award-winning mobile application. It’s the first app in North America that lets customers track their household’s electricity usage and costs, access their billing information, and find out about current power outages using a single tool.
Industry-leading voice assistant skills
Not content with the success of their mobile application, the team was eager to give their customers even more ways to interact with Hydro Ottawa. The next project involved smart speaker skills for Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Because the key identity management infrastructure was already in place, it only took a few weeks to integrate the smart speaker skills.
Using simple voice commands, customers can ask their Google Home or Alexa about current electricity rates, power outages, bill information, and tips on how to reduce electricity usage. This first rollout has laid the groundwork for the team to build more features into the smart speaker skills, providing Hydro Ottawa customers with an intuitive smart home experience.
How did we do it?
The Hydro Ottawa team, through the LoginRadius Dashboard, customized the password validation rules to meet their security requirements. For example, they now enforce password rules that require a minimum length, data type (alphanumeric), and inclusion of uppercase and special characters.
Single sign-on (SSO)
Before adding new applications and technologies, the Hydro Ottawa team had to first make sure that their customers could seamlessly access new services. The LoginRadius SSO capabilities enabled Hydro Ottawa to connect all of their web and mobile properties in one single accessible portal for their customers. Customers no longer have to sign in separately as they navigate through various Hydro Ottawa web applications. They can now browse between properties without interruption.
Automated unification of customer data
LoginRadius cloud data storage automatically normalizes and unifies customer data to remove all data silos. The Hydro Ottawa team always accesses the most up-to-date and complete customer information from a single database, regardless of when or how they are retrieving their customer data from LoginRadius. Hydro Ottawa now has a unified view of who their customers are. They can augment existing customer data with additional customer data collected through interactions. These richer profiles lead to increased understanding of customer demographics, questions, and behaviors for better and more fine-tuned segmentation. The Hydro Ottawa team can then build even better technology to serve their customers.
Federated SSO with OAuth 2.0
Hydro Ottawa leveraged the LoginRadius OAuth 2.0 capabilities and the LoginRadius API to build their smart speaker skills with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Thanks to the identity infrastructure, which addressed the key factors of user authentication, security, and data storage, Hydro Ottawa was able to build and launch these skills in a record timeline of three weeks. Throughout this process, the LoginRadius support team worked tirelessly, troubleshooting issues and questions to make sure the project succeeded. Hydro Ottawa is now the first utility company in Canada, and possibly in North America, to launch a successful smart speaker skill that can carry on a continuous, contextual conversation to inform customers of their account and billing and educate them on energy conservation.
With the use of a custom object, Hydro Ottawa can easily manage relationships between master accounts and subaccounts directly in LoginRadius. Since accounts are managed by family, Hydro Ottawa allows their customers to set up a master account with multiple sub or “child” accounts, which allows family members to access the same account information with their own credentials. This account relationship flow is stored in a custom object, and Hydro Ottawa can view and query this information directly from the LoginRadius Dashboard.