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Sauce Labs 2021 Predictions: New Tools, New Personas, and a New Day in Testing

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

New Tools, New Personas, and a New Day in Testing

By Alissa Lydon, Director of Product Marketing, Sauce Labs

So, yeah, pretty sure nobody saw that coming. A once-in-a-century (here's hoping, anyway) health crisis. A rollercoaster of economic ups and downs the likes of which most of us have never experienced. The overnight shifting of virtually the entire global workforce to an all-remote posture. And the uprooting of pretty much everything we once considered normal. I'm guessing no one had any of that in their 2020 predictions.

But that doesn't mean we didn't get a few things right here and there. While we may not have foreseen massive global upheaval, we did foresee the beginnings of upheaval in the way organizations test and develop software. This time last year, my colleagues were predicting that developer empowerment would begin to reshape the testing landscape, and that's exactly what happened. Fully aware they bear ultimate responsibility for delivering high-quality, high-performance digital experiences to customers, developers began to assert far greater influence on testing in 2020, helping accelerate the shift-left movement and cement continuous testing's place as the de facto best practice for enterprise organizations that prioritize quality.

That's a trend we'll see accelerate even further in 2021 as new tools and new personas continue to usher in a new day in testing. Let's take a closer look at the five trends that will drive testing in 2021.

Developers lead the way

Wait, didn't you just say that happened last year?

Actually, no. While the world of testing in 2020 was indeed defined by empowered developers helping reshape the landscape, there's a significant difference between developers becoming more empowered and developers leading the way, and it's the latter we'll see in 2021. That means we'll see developers incorporating testing directly into their workflows, quality engineers being embedded directly into dev teams to enable tighter collaboration, and most importantly, developers increasingly influencing if not outright determining the tools, systems, and processes upon which the organization relies to deliver quality at scale. That's not just empowerment. That's full-on leadership.

Flexibility takes priority

Perhaps the most direct and immediate impact of developers taking the wheel will be the continued prioritization of flexibility in testing. Developers are pretty particular (rightfully so) about the tools and frameworks with which they work. Testing won't be an exception. The greater degree of ownership developers take on with respect to testing, the more they'll demand the flexibility to test the way they want. That means we'll see organizations augment their existing investments in Selenium and Appium (the current de facto testing frameworks for testing web and mobile applications, respectively) with new investments in frameworks such as Cypress, Puppeteer, Espresso, and XCUITest, frameworks with which developers tend to have a greater degree of comfort. Teams will likewise want the flexibility to run tests both locally on their own infrastructure or in the cloud, enabling them to toggle between the two to find the optimal combination of speed, efficiency, and cost. 

More personas at the quality table

Bringing quality assurance and development teams together to collaborate and share ownership of quality was a great first step, but it's just that - a first step. As we move into 2021, we'll see even more personas coming to the quality table. The reason is simple: everyone owns quality. That includes product teams, who have a vested interest in quality as a means to drive product engagement. It includes operations teams, who need to understand where risks might exist in the application to effectively monitor and optimize the post-production experience. And it includes marketing and sales teams who want to understand the role user experience can and should play in their go-to-market initiatives and customer conversations. Everyone now has a stake and that means everyone needs a seat at the table.

Data becomes the most important test asset

As enterprises increasingly run tests on a massive scale, data will become the most important asset in the testing ecosystem. Effective testing is no longer just about platforms and frameworks, but rather about truly understanding what's happening in a test suite, and, more broadly, making sense of the many quality signals you receive throughout the testing and development process. The best strategy is thus no longer just one that enables you to effectively execute tests in parallel, but one that also enables you to aggregate data in a meaningful way and leverage methods like machine learning to identify where risk is the greatest and glean insight into how to quickly remediate issues.

Testing as a Strategic Advantage

This last one is less a prediction and more a commentary but after years of being viewed by business and IT decision-makers alike as little more than a necessary expense, continuous testing is increasingly now seen as a strategic advantage, and that shift will continue accelerating in 2021. Testing drives continuous improvement in quality, and in the new age of digital commerce and remote engagements, digital quality is pretty much all you have. Gaining insight into code quality, application quality, and user engagement data gives organizations a clear roadmap on how they can continue to improve their digital experiences and create happy and loyal customers. And you don't need a prognosticator to tell you that's a good thing.

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About the Author

Alissa Lydon 

Alissa Lydon is the director of product marketing manager and a technology evangelist at Sauce Labs. Her path to product marketing has included stints in education as an English teacher, as well as roles within software sales and events management. Each of these experiences helped develop her deep passion for solving problems. With 6 years of experience in the software testing industry, she strives to constantly share her expertise through effective, data-driven storytelling. From educating the market on best practices, to constantly advocating for the customer, her goal is to ensure that everyone she works with is set up for success. Outside of work, you can find her reading all kinds of books, traveling to faraway lands with her family, or catching a baseball game (Go A’s!).

Published Monday, November 16, 2020 7:40 AM by David Marshall
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