With the emergence of IoT, everything becomes connected; there is a continuous blurring between real world and digital world where everything is moving to become predominantly digital. Apps are location-aware, context-aware, and aware of everything around them (supply chain, logistics network) and that’s bringing the custom device world into mainstream industry-wide. Bring together any device (custom or mainstream, mobile or fixed) and everything is connected and focused on the experience of the end user.
In this new world, mobile apps are being rolled out continuously and at a far greater speed. Change is fast, and customer expectation sky high. Add to that we are living in a diverse and fragmented technology world across different platforms and devices with increasing adoption of AI and machine learning, with security as an ongoing and ever-increasing challenge.
Combine all this with DevOps where teams are constantly releasing new versions; the pressure of the app store and social media mean there’s high demand for new features and releases - not just to release them but to continuously monitor them functionally and for a high-quality user experience. IoT, digital experience and DevOps are having a disruptive effect on what’s happening in the testing market. As billions of devices from fridges to thermostats to cars are digitised and connected to the cloud, the traditional, manual approach to testing has no hope in keeping up. As a result, teams are struggling to quickly and efficiently deliver high-quality digital experiences.
With IoT changing the game and disrupting the established approach to testing, what are the five challenges the modern day testing team has to contemplate?
• How do you know if everything is going well but more importantly how do you anticipate or predict problems?
• How do you know what is working and what to focus on to drive more revenue and reduce churn?
• How to manage consumers expectations which have never been higher – servicing the ‘can’t wait, won’t wait’ consumer generation (the app store having fuelled this)
• Continuous delivery is the norm yet software can’t fail, the business impact is too huge
• How to manage the experience economy – their business imperative will be to focus on delighting customers 24/7
The answer to businesses successfully overcoming these challenges lies more in a shift in approach and a strategic re-thinking of how digital teams deliver quality and at speed, rather than in tactical or point technology solutions.
Despite IoT still in its relative infancy, it is already clear that it will have a huge impact on testing, and that organisations will need new tools and approaches to test efficiently and effectively. It’s safe to say that the traditional, manual approach to testing is becoming extinct in an IoT world. In order to provide the answer to all of the above issues, and provide digital experiences that delight users, a new approach to testing which tests automation is imperative for businesses to compete and succeed.
Artificial intelligence and analytics are going to transform testing and deliver true test automation. The transformative impact of AI and analytics will go even further and fundamentally change what testing is all about. Testing will move closer to the user, through predictive analytics testing will move closer to product design, and by learning the relationship between technical behaviours and user satisfaction / conversion / and retention testing will move closer to revenue. In a few years ‘testing’ should be seen as a revenue-generating profit centre, that increases customer conversion and retention, rather than a murky overhead.
Traditionally, testing has focused on verifying that software complies with a specification. However, as each sector transforms itself to offer connected digital experiences which are the main touch point with customers, the user experience is critical. Failure and downtime is so visible to the end user, it results almost immediately in brand damage which impacts the top line, businesses cannot afford to get it wrong. Testing, which used to reside in the background of business, is now so critical that it is fundamental to an organisation’s ability to disrupt. The C-suite should now be focused on performance in the IoT Economy, where downtime is simply not an option.
Interfaces with IoT devices are also becoming much more complex and hyper-connected. A well known example of this is connected cars, which interact with the physical world as well as with a multitude of third-party services and devices that all need to work together faultlessly. Here, performance and security issues are obvious. So to test in the IoT world, you need a truly integrated approach that includes testing the impact of every interaction, focusing on the entire user experience.
These devices aren’t working in isolation but together on transactions within a single use case, testing approaches are required that are designed to work across different device categories within a single test case. Imagine using your mobile phone to order food from your favourite food outlet. This test case involves the consumer’s mobile, the shop’s point-of-sale, the screens in the kitchen, a web-based back-end dispatch and monitoring system, and a transaction system managing stock. All these systems are built on completely different technology stacks, so an approach tied to the technology stack is going to be complicated and time-consuming.
The answer is to think of software quality solutions which test from the point of view of the consumer experience, and test the entire digital journey, which can be tested in the lab and in production, and will report issues in terms of the user rather than the code. Only by doing this will organisations be able to validate the quality of their apps and devices to ensure they’re delivering an outstanding user experience 24/7.
Digital automated testing will enable enterprises to create amazing digital experiences with the highest levels of quality, reliability and performance. AI is essential to automate testing, monitoring and analytics to predict business and user impacts across different interfaces, platforms, and devices.
The only way to scale and deliver the dream digital experience will be for testing to become consumer focused, business oriented, and automated all at the same time. This will be one of the biggest challenges businesses face but if embraced with a disruptive mindset, will deliver the most results.
Antony Edwards, CTO, TestPlant
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