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Why Software Quality Is Vital in a Digital-First World
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May 19, 2022 Blog

Authored by: Dr. Gareth Smith, General Manager of Software Test Automation – Keysight Technologies

 

The pandemic has rapidly accelerated the pace of digital transformation, and software has become vital to how we work, live and learn. As the world becomes more digitised and dependent on digital products, this has put the quality of software in the spotlight.

For the last decade, organisations have focused on releasing new apps and services as quickly as possible to keep up with rapidly changing demands and support digital transformation. However, with the push for speed of delivery, software quality has often lagged behind.

With rapid digitalisation showing no sign of slowing, software-based innovation and development will continue. But with poor software quality estimated to have cost the U.S. economy alone a staggering USD $2 trillion in 2020, organisations must find a way to balance the speed of release with software quality.

So, how does software quality now determine business success, and how can organisations take steps to improve it?

The quality of software is critical in a digital-first world. An undetected flaw can trigger system outages, and a misconfiguration of cloud platforms can result in a data breach or data loss.  Software defects drastically increase the cost of development. And, once software is released, the cost of finding and fixing is significantly higher than during the design/development phase.

“For the last decade, organisations have focused on releasing new apps and services as quickly as possible to keep up with rapidly changing demands and support digital transformation. However, with the push for speed of delivery, software quality has often lagged behind.”

Testing and monitoring must be prioritised by organisations undertaking software development, to improve software quality and provide a frictionless, high-quality (omnichannel) digital experience that results in successful user outcomes. Next-generation software testing platforms support this by incorporating the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques that learn from real application usage, historical bug patterns, and which application behaviours yield the most critical business outcomes.

Artificial Intelligence-based tools also eliminate test coverage overlaps, optimise existing testing efforts with more predictable testing and accelerate progress from defect detection to defect prevention. This, in turn, improves software quality.

Software testing platforms incorporating AI can automatically generate tests that focus on the user journeys in the application that are the most important to business success. Thus, end-to-end intelligent test automation within a DevOps framework allows companies to deliver improved quality software faster while freeing up teams to increase their productivity. To date, Keysight’s intelligent automation platform is the only completely non-invasive testing tool, ensuring comprehensive test coverage without ever touching the source code or installing anything on the system-under-test (SUT). The AI-powered automation can test any technology on any device, operating system or browser at any layer, from the UI to APIs to the database. This includes everything from the most modern, highly dynamic website to legacy back-office systems to point-of-sale and command and control systems.

Our technology sits outside of the application and reports on performance issues, bugs, and other errors without needing to understand the underlying technology stack. This is critical for regulated industries such as healthcare, government and defence.

Continuous Quality, and the QA Trends Driving It

With the reliance on digital, testing must shift from a verification-driven activity to a continuous quality process. Teams must incorporate quality into every phase of software development and automate the process. Continuous quality is about adopting a systematic approach to finding and fixing software defects throughout the entire software development lifecycle. This reduces the risk of security vulnerabilities and bugs by helping find and fix problems as early as possible.

“With the reliance on digital, testing must shift from a verification-driven activity to a continuous quality process. Teams must incorporate quality into every phase of software development and automate the process.”

As part of the continuous quality approach, AI makes the process of designing, developing and deploying software faster, better and cheaper because AI-powered tools make project managers, business analysts, software coders and testers more productive and more effective, enabling them to produce higher-quality software faster and at a lower cost. Here are five more related trends that we believe will happen in the world of QA in the next three years:

  1. Quality Assurance. This will become a profit centre rather than a compliance function. Unless your software is released first, has an amazing UX, flawless functionality and great responsiveness, your business will likely struggle or fail. But if you manage to achieve those goals, you will succeed. As such, leveraging QA to continuously measure this and predict a hit or a miss is a profit centre—not just a compliance function.
  2. User Experience. This is the key differentiator for your business. Your UX is your shop window—it draws your customers and needs to keep them there. It better be excellent, or you will be left behind.
  3. Performance. If you have performance delays of greater than three seconds at any point, your business will fail. Millennials have little patience, Generation Z have even less! Three seconds is the amount of time your customers will wait for a delay before heading to a competitor. Better and continuous load and performance testing are needed to ensure scale and responsiveness.
  4. The Digital Nemesis. Testing must become even smarter as a digital nemesis can find the weak spots intelligently in any system using AI-powered “chaos engineering,” highlight them and allow them to be fixed before anyone ever knows. This applies to functionality, performance, UX and security.
  5. End-to-end Fusion Testing. From hardware to UX, gone are the days of testing one layer of your stack or one type of testing. Testing the 5G handset, testing the 5G base station, testing the network load, testing the application ability to handle load, functional testing, API testing, performance testing, security testing, testing on iOS, testing android, testing cloud testing Windows etc. etc. etc. But what about testing the entire end-to-end system with all layers, end-to-end workflows and interaction points? Without doing so, we never truly test the system in production; we never truly can isolate a problem because it might not happen without the interaction between different layers or under different interacting tests conditions. So now we need to take testing to the next level—with multi-layer fusion testing – bringing together the skills of the hardware, network, software and UX testers into one end-to-end framework.
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