In previous MythBusters posts, we’ve debunked the notion that testing is solely a compliance function and examined how AI is delivering value in testing today. In this blog, we’ll explore how today’s complex, hyper-connected world has elevated testing to a strategic corporate priority.
In the first post in our MythBusters series, we examined the misperception that testing is solely a compliance activity and showed how it’s actually a business critical function with bottom-line impact. In this installment, we’re looking at the role AI plays in the industry, the numerous misconceptions that abound, and why it’s important that companies cut through the noise to understand how the technology can benefit them today.
In a recent Forbes interview on the retail customer experience, Harley Manning, VP and research director of Forrester’s customer experience team, said; “Customer expectations are rising slowly—but faster than brands are making improvements.” He further elaborated that the average score in the firm’s CX Index™ for US digital retailers decreased from the prior year, with no retailer breaking through the 85th percentile to make it into the “excellent” category.
Today’s complex, digital world relies on computer systems and software and downtime is more than an inconvenience—in many industries, it’s a critical failure that can have a lasting, negative impact on customer experience, the corporate brand and the bottom line.
Wikipedia will tell you that “software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test.” While technically accurate, this definition does not encapsulate all that testing does and how critical the function is in our complex, hyperconnected world.
A recent Bloomberg headline proclaimed, “Human Spaceflight Could be a $23 Billion Industry by 2030.” The article examined a UBS report on space travel, which predicts that “spaceflight” will compete with long-distance airline flights in the not-too-distant future.
It’s a fascinating prospect, and one that underscores how critical it is for software to perform optimally in mission critical environments. Eggplant’s Antony Edwards recently explored this theme in detail in a DigitalisationWorld article, highlighting some of the key technology challenges facing space exploration.
A recent SD Times article suggested that AI is not delivering tangible testing improvements, cautioning “…customers need to realize there’s probably more hype than reality in most of what test solution vendors are saying.” This sentiment reminds us of the unhelpfully polarized “manual-vs-automated test execution” debate that held back testing for 10 years and we’ve only recently moved on from with the realization that there’s a place for both in testing. It would be catastrophic for the testing industry if we went into another 10 year debate of “AI-vs-non-AI” only to realize that there are strong benefits to AI, but it probably doesn’t solve everything.
These sentiments are unhelpful and dangerous to the testing community. Sure, there are exaggerated claims about the use and impact of AI in some products, but there are also fantastic products that demonstrate that the technology can deliver real improvements today. Below are just a few examples of how AI can help testing now—not several years down the road:
A recent Forbes Insights survey confirmed that there is strong C-Suite interest in artificial intelligence, with eighty percent of CEOs and eighty-five percent of IT leaders pointing to AI as a core component of their digital transformation efforts. While the technology is sometimes—and mistakenly—associated with job loss, AI’s true power actually lies in its ability to augment human decision-making.
"The quality of your company’s software has a direct impact on the quality of your company’s financial results. You know it. Management knows it. And the importance of quality will only continue to grow with the need for 24x7 operations, high availability requirements, aggressive service-level agreements, and the need to roll out innovative new web-based services."
This was the first paragraph of a paper I wrote in 2005 about how to build your organization around a Testing Center of Excellence.
15 years on, we are still struggling with these concepts. The focus has turned towards project outcomes rather than business outcomes. Reasons include faster release cycles, more complex technology, and more technically astute end-users, with the result that QA lost sight of who was really using their applications.
With the Shift-Up series thus far, we have explored the importance of testing and thinking as a customer. The basic premise is that we need to add another dimension to Quality Assurance other than Shift-Left and Shift-Right. This new dimension focuses on how your customer is actually using your application and if the intersection of your application, customer behavior, and your company’s business objectives all align.