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Sauce Labs 2019 Predictions: Digitalization and the Changing Face of Software Testing and Development

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Joanna Schloss, Vice President, Product Marketing, Sauce Labs

Digitalization and the Changing Face of Software Testing and Development

If there's one immutable fact I've learned over the course of my years as a technology engineer and evangelist, it's that customers are in charge. Of everything. That includes year-end predictions.

Sure, it's us thought leaders who gaze into our crystal balls and make educated assessments of what lies ahead, but it's customers who determine if those predictions ultimately ring true with adoption and usage. Regardless of how technical a set of predictions might seem, the ones that come to pass can always be traced back to customers.

That's once again the case with digitalization and the way it's changing the face of software development. Certainly, the predictions that follow are technical predictions, focused primarily on development and QA teams, and the changes they'll make in 2019 to keep up with the demands of the digital era. But at their core, these predictions are really about customers, and how the way they consume and operate in the digital age has forced a reckoning for anyone who tests and develops software.

The Key Assumptions

Before I dive into my specific predictions for 2019, let's outline three key assumptions that make up their foundation. (Only they're less assumptions then they are cold hard facts.)

First and foremost, the way customers interact and transact with businesses has permanently changed. Consider that online sales for Black Friday were up 23.6% to a record $6.22 billion in 2018, according to Adobe Analytics, or that 33.5% of those transactions took place on a mobile device. Your digital experience is your customer experience.

Second, your brand is now defined not just by the quality of your products, but by the quality of your user experience. Today's consumer has little patience for a digital experience that's anything less than seamless. If your news site or blog doesn't display properly on a certain browser, or your website freezes at checkout, or your mobile app crashes, that's more than a bad experience - it's a lost customer.   

And third, customers expect continuous product improvement. Customer loyalty in the digital age is driven by the frequency with which that product or service is improved. Consumers always want the latest and the greatest, and the businesses that continuously work to improve their offerings will reap the rewards of customer loyalty. After all, every time you update an app, you inspire even your most casual customers to download and take a peek at the "new" things you've delivered.

So, what does this all have to do with software development? In a word - everything. The customers have spoken, and it's now up to development and QA teams to deliver on the flawless, continuously improving digital products and experiences they've demanded.

Here are four predictions for how they'll do just that in 2019:

The Development Cycle Gets a Makeover, Led by Continuous Testing

The traditional, one-step-at-a-time, "waterfall" software development process, which transitions linearly from design to development to testing to launch, is on its last legs (and yet, still far too widely used). Sure, in some cases, companies have adopted a "fast waterfall" approach, usually in the form of a two-week sprint followed by a week of testing. But that's just the same broken process, only labeled as agile.

The fact is businesses today can't afford for developers to wait until the tail end of the development cycle (regardless of what form it takes) to pitch code over the wall to their QA team. If you find out something needs fixing that far along in the process, well, it's already too late. Remember, customers want that new release, and they want it yesterday. Oh, and they want it to be of the highest quality too. We can no longer sacrifice speed for quality, nor can we sacrifice quality for speed. We need to deliver both.

As such, in 2019, teams will increasingly adopt a non-linear, DevOps-centric approach to development in which continuous testing is leveraged to ensure delayed releases become a thing of the past. Developers and QA teams will work hand-in-hand to automate testing of both functional and non-functional release components throughout the development process.

If You Can't Test it, They Won't Build it  

In 2019, we'll increasingly see developers make testability a requirement before they'll even start the coding process. Developers are under pressure. Speed to market is, in some cases, the only remaining differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Whoever gets there first, wins. Against that backdrop, developers will increasingly want to know that their code can be reliably and continuously tested before they start writing it. And that means they'll look to work collaboratively with QA teams and test engineers right from the start. Which means, of course ...    

QA Gets a Seat at the Big Table

Long viewed the last step in the waterfall process, or worse, an afterthought altogether, QA teams will finally get their just due in 2019, as quality assurance gives way to quality engineering. After all, if code needs to be tested the instant it's written (and it does), and continuously tested throughout the development cycle (again, affirmative), then QA professionals and test engineers will have to be there every step of the way alongside their developer counterparts. Afterthoughts no more.

Testing Reaches the C-Suite and Becomes Ubiquitous

No, CEOs and CFOs and CMOs aren't about to suddenly start standing up Selenium grids and testing code snippets. But you better believe they're going to start taking notice when delays in the release process or disruptions to the customer experience start impacting the bottom line. (And to be clear, in 2019, delays in the release process and disruptions to the customer experience will impact the bottom line.) They're going to want to know what happened, and what can be done to ensure it doesn't happen again. And more often than not, all roads will lead back to testing. And when they do, everyone will be on the hook, from developers and QA teams to product managers and line of business leaders. In other words, testing will be everyone's responsibility in 2019.


About the Author

Joanna Schloss is vice president of product marketing and a subject matter expert in digital transformation and continuous testing for Sauce Labs. Her areas of expertise include software testing and development, DevOps, data warehousing and analytics, and business intelligence. With a blend of experience in both startup and G500 environments, Joanna has successfully launched a myriad of products across her multi-decade career, from business-focused analytic applications to leading data warehousing and management tools.
Published Thursday, December 27, 2018 7:26 AM by David Marshall
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