Software testing & QA is an important function for any organisation that produces Software (as a Service (SaaS) or as stand-alone). 2018 has been a busy year for the tech world with GDPR consuming everyone’s lives in both Q1 & Q2, as well as a noticeable shift in demand from manual testing, to automation testing. We have also seen big advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) world with continued development in smart speakers, like the Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant & the Apple Home Pod, now creating demand for smart home applications. We’ll now highlight the top talking points of the first 3 quarters of 2018, and what I think you should keep your eye on for Q4 and into 2019.
Shift from Manual Testing to Automation
Manual Testing has been the preferred option for many years due to the cost-effectiveness of it in comparison with Automation Testing. However, with the emergence of ‘continuous delivery’ services, many organisations are now heading towards hiring high skilled automation testers to fulfil their needs. Services that are continuously delivered can suffer greatly with the time constraints of manual testing, with lengthy gaps in development as the testing phase may drag on longer than expected, or even exposing users to bugs in the system that could lead to them heading elsewhere to a competitor’s service. Manual testing is still widely regarded as the more cost-efficient route for testing requirements with many SME’s favouring this form of testing. Although, in the long term this is likely to cost these organisations more as a result of longer lead time in projects which can impact on the potential earnings of these services that require a longer testing phase. Automation is a luxury that can be afforded by the larger corporations, who then reap the rewards of a timely service that allows them to take their software to market much earlier than their smaller counterparts.
Impact of GDPR on Software Testing
Sure to strike fear of boredom into the heart of anyone that has access to an email inbox in 2018, GDPR also impacted software testers earlier this year. Due to the nature of their work, it is often the case that a tester utilises data collected by the company to measure the effectiveness of their software against the expectations of it. Because of the General Data Protection Act (GDPR), testers are now required to store the data in a secure way that does not breach any stipulations of the new act. This has added to the already lengthy list of job roles of a Tester, the 2018 ‘State of Testing’ report found that 25% of testers spent 50% or less of their time actually on testing related tasks, with the rest occupied with tasks such as information management necessary for GDPR. Whilst there is plenty of fun poked at GDPR a lot of the time, we shouldn’t take the consequences of not following the regulation as failure to adhere to the regulation could result in a fine of up to €10 million, or 2% annual global turnover – whichever is higher.
Development of IoT
The continued growth of the smart speaker market has seen other household items undergo the tech makeover to become ‘smart’. The creation of the smart home ‘Internet of Things (IoT) has brought joy to lazy people across the world, allowing the user to turn on lights, heating and entertainment without lifting a finger. These innovations also come to the joy of testers who are now in demand in this new market, as this service comes under the ‘Continuous Delivery’ channel of testing, it is important that alterations to coding & delivery are not impacted with bugs. This shift has caused a noticeable rise in the Exploratory discipline of testing, required to ensure the user journey & path are not hindered with issues in software. Aston based business Lightwave RF are riding the smart home wave with their range of products that can communicate with each other, their partnership with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant & the IF This Then That platform (IFTTT) to produce a line of intelligent heating, lighting & entertainment solutions that fit in very well in the 21st Century home.
Automation testing with development experience = Goldmine!
A trend that has been noticed over the first nine months of the year is companies preferring their automation testers to have some software development experience. It would appear having this particular skill set can be a very lucrative asset to a tester’s arsenal. previously software development was widely regarded as a much more varied and engaging role than testing, however companies in the tech world are now favouring testers with a good experience in development, and are paying handsomely for it. In the era of DevOps and continuous integration A tester with development experience can add a lot of value to an organisation producing their own software due to the familiarity they shall have of the full development cycle. This experience will streamline the testing process whilst also meaning they may be able to combine development into their role. As mentioned previously, the ‘State of Testing 2018’ found that a quarter of testers in the sample claim to spend half their time or less on test-related activities, this is a likely indicator of this shift. In our experience a hiring manager will have a great deal of leeway in salary negotiation, if the candidate is multi-skilled and can add substantial value to the business, as an example a business would be happy to bring in a tester with development capabilities on £40,000 rather than a tester & developer on £30,000 each. As mentioned in our Recruitment Partnership article, We pride ourselves on working with our clients to recognise the skills gap they are looking to fill and creating a recruitment strategy that shall satisfy the needs of the business, if a candidate possesses more than one skill the business are searching for then it shall help them greatly when negotiating salary.
Continuing dominance of cloud-based servers with BigData
In January, Sauce Labs released their expectations for 2018 that in which they predicted there would be a shift towards automation testing with a focus on DevOps and cloud testing. This is increasingly caused by the surge in demand for wearables across 2017 growing the market by over 10% from 100 million units to 115 million. Q4 2017 alone accounted for 37 million units, wearables such as FitBit, Apple Watches and the UnderArmour Band are an aspect of the IoT. This explosive growth of the market adds pressure on companies to ensure the service they are offering is at the very least up to the industry standard, if not market leading. Time is a luxury that those in the IoT market cannot afford, the infancy of the market and technology allows opportunity for operators to take a ‘first mover’ advantage over the market.
But what does this mean for testers? The IoT infrastructure relies on a network of servers or ‘clouds’ communicating data to each other in an instant to respond to the command of the user. Because of this continuous delivery of service companies rely on their testers to operate exploratory testing on new software, as the luxury of time is ill afforded the testers must rely on programmes such as Selenium, Appium and SonarQube to deliver to-the-minute bug reports to aid the release of new software as swiftly as possible. Cloud testing goes beyond the IoT, with cloud solutions now solving businesses data storage problems. Companies like UKFast and SAP solve these problems with large servers that they maintain and rent space of to organisations, much like an imaginary self-storage unit. Many public sector organisations rely on these services as it can free up portions of a budget to be spent elsewhere through not needing the hardware to go with it. As you can imagine it is important that these organisations are able to access their data 24/7 year-round, so it is the responsibility of the cloud solutions provider to retain a standard service with no drop-outs in coverage. During the heatwave of June UKFast customers experienced a lot of problems with accessing their information, with some companies who hosted their website within the server suffering a blackout online. Unfortunately for UKFast this came as a result of a data centre, the housing of the servers, overheating in the uncharacteristic British weather which meant there was little they were able to act on from a software point. But the incident illustrated the necessity of these companies to only implement software that has been tested thoroughly and can be trusted.
What are we tipping to be big for 2019?