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The connected world and the role of testing

During the last decade, the software world has undergone a revolution as a result of the cloud, consumerization, DevOps, microservices architectures and, of course, the internet of things. IoT is changing the game and disrupting the established approach to testing. As billions of devices from refrigerators to thermostats to forklifts are digitized and connected to the cloud, the traditional, manual approach to testing has no hope in keeping up.

Consequently, digital teams are struggling to quickly and efficiently deliver high-quality digital experiences that delight users. A new approach to testing — and most important, test automation — is needed in order to thrive in a digital world.

Historically, testing has focused on verifying that software complies with a specification. However, as every industry becomes digital, from mobile banking to government services, and your digital experience is your main touch point with your customers, the user experience is critical. It’s no longer a nice to have — because it impacts the top line — and you can’t afford to get it wrong.

Representing the ultimate consumerization of software, IoT will have an even greater impact on testing than mobile has due to the scale and diversity of devices and use cases. IoT is bringing technology directly into everyone’s lives, and exponentially increasing the demands on the user experience and quality.

User interfaces within IoT devices are also becoming much more complex and hyper-connected; they’re 3D visualizations of cities and augmented reality, not just forms with labels and text fields. A great example 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 seamlessly. This creates a lot more concern around real-time performance and security. 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.

Because these devices aren’t working in isolation but together on transactions within a single use case, we need testing approaches that are naturally designed to work across different device categories within a single test case. Consider the scenario of using your mobile phone to order food from Taco Bell. This test case involves the user’s cell phone, the point-of-sale unit in the shop, the screens in the kitchen, a web-based back-end dispatch and monitoring system, and a transaction system managing stock. All these systems have completely different technology stacks, so an approach tied to the technology stack is going to be complicated and time-consuming.

Therefore you need software quality solutions that test through the eyes of the user, test the whole user experience, can test in the lab and in production, and can report issues in terms of the user rather than in terms of the code. Only by doing this will organizations be able to validate the quality of their apps and devices to ensure they’re delivering an outstanding user experience 24/7 year-round.

Sure, IoT is still in its infancy, yet it’s already clear that it’s going to significantly change testing, and that organizations 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.

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