Today, consumerization based on digital technologies is driving the global economic ecosystem. The competition is so intense that enterprises cannot sit on past laurels but work consistently towards developing and deploying better quality products, speed up their customer response mechanism, enhance the quality of customer touchpoints, and be innovative by leveraging the latest digital technologies. However, this requires enterprise digital transformation to be a reality where legacy systems are updated by embracing the cloud and new software applications developed. For any digital business transformation to be effective, the products or services should address two criteria – customers’ expectations and satisfaction.
This brings into the equation the crucial role of digital quality assurance. In a day and age where customers have plenty of choices, enterprises cannot risk offering products or services that are below par or do not meet the market criteria. According to the World Quality Report 2020-21, about 84% of enterprises are increasingly focusing on raising QA awareness and meeting QA standards. Besides, around 82% of respondents want better tools for collaboration with built-in QA and anywhere accessibility. There is more focus on validating usability and customer experience, and the need to use smart QA automation tools across environments. In fact, the key findings of the World Quality Report highlight how Quality Awareness (QA) helps to achieve the goals of enterprise digital transformation.
- QA is no longer a metric to be met during the deployment of a product. Instead, QA should ensure the product meets the expectations and satisfies the requirements of everyone in the value chain – employees, vendors, and customers.
- As Agile and DevOps methodologies are adopted by enterprises, the support for software testing in digital transformation gains more traction.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI & ML) have become mainstream in digital transformation testing. In fact, AI & ML, apart from being leveraged by software developers, are increasingly being used by quality testers to enhance their digital transformation strategy.
- Enterprises have realized the importance of automation in QA to increase the level of speed and accuracy in digital testing.
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The changing approach to Quality Assurance
If earlier, QA was merely an add-on to the development process with time and cost being the key considerations, the requirements have changed today. Therefore, to make their mark in the competitive world, enterprises have to reach the market faster with superior quality products delivering the best customer experience. Products should be tested during the development phase and beyond to deliver an omnichannel experience to the customers and to enable enterprise digital transformation. This has pitchforked the role of test automation beyond regression testing to parallel product development. For example, enterprises are following the Behavioral Development Driven (BDD) methodology where automation testing is based on understanding the user expectations.
Agile and DevOps driving QA digital transformation
The Agile approach entails frequent interactions between the development and testing teams to ensure the build does not suffer from glitches or bugs. It focuses on building short, iterative, and flexible development cycles that respond quickly to the changing market dynamics or customer feedback. DevOps takes it a step further by bringing in the operations team with the aim to optimize the delivery process and release high-quality software applications to the customers, quickly. The two pillars of DevOps, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), ensure the build is updated continuously based on customer demand. In fact, CD should be the outcome of any digital transformation strategy and therefore, should be integrated into the SDLC.
How QA leads to digital transformation implementation
The need for enterprises to transform their processes, culture, strategies, systems, tools, and technologies to remain competitive in the global economy is underpinned on the successful adoption of digital assurance. Let us discuss the ways through which QA can enable digital business transformation.
Security: The spectre of cybercrime looms large and has the potential to cause heavy damage to enterprises in terms of data breaches, the loss of customer trust in the brand, inviting legal suits for damages and loss of revenue. As per Cybersecurity Ventures, the total damages enterprises are likely to suffer by 2021 annually are a whopping $6 trillion. Also, Gartner predicts the global spending on cybersecurity to touch $133.7 billion by 2022. These statistics point to the need for integrating security testing (and other types of testing) in the value chain.
This means the software code should be simultaneously tested for bugs or glitches and if detected, should be fixed immediately. Thus, any vulnerability that can be exploited by threat actors gets eliminated and the software application turns out to be robust and secure. Of late, security engineering as opposed to testing is embraced by enterprises to design software applications with built-in security parameters. As a result, the digital transformation framework of an enterprise delivers products that adhere to stringent security parameters like PCI-DSS, ISO27001, and others, and prevent attacks from threat vectors.
Scalability: Every software and customer touchpoint should be robust enough to handle a high traffic load, especially during festivals and New Year. For example, during Black Friday sales, more customers are expected to use the online stores and make purchases. So, if the online stores are not capable of handling such a large sales volume and end up with latency or malfunction, the customer experience can go for a toss. To uphold brand equity, superior customer experience, and competitiveness, the software applications should be tested for their ability to handle load thresholds. To get an insight into the losses suffered by enterprises due to website crashes on a Black Friday, let us take the examples of Walmart (lost $9 million in 150 minutes), J.Crew (lost 323,000 shoppers in 5 hours), and Costco (lost $11 million in 16 hours). These examples are a grim testimony to the unpreparedness of companies in meeting the anticipated rush for Black Friday sales. This loss of revenue, brand equity, and customer confidence could have been avoided if the companies had invested in QA at the right time.
Adoption of disruptive technologies: Digital transformation services should focus on adopting new technologies with the ability to disrupt the market. These should allow enterprises to meet the rising customer expectations for innovative quality products and derive financial and other benefits continuously. Besides, the adoption of new technologies helps to streamline the functioning of the product across channels. For example, by incorporating a Testing Centre of Excellence (TCoE) in the build process, enterprises can leverage the best automation tools to validate the functioning of the software application. Besides, teams can come up with quality metrics to assess the role of the adopted technology in the process of digital transformation. AI & ML, IoT, and automation can help enterprises to address the challenges of testing, analytics, and cost savings.
The rapid changes witnessed in the business and technology sectors are forcing enterprises to embrace digital transformation. This allows them to develop and deploy innovative, high-quality, and robust products for customers – quickly, safely, and efficiently. Quality assurance is the critical process in the value chain that can ensure the software application functions as expected while meeting the regulatory parameters.
Hemanth Kumar Yamjala has 10+ years of experience in IT Services, predominantly Marketing, Branding, specializing in Digital. Currently a part of the marketing for Cigniti Technologies with functions such as leveraging digital marketing channels for lead generation and promotion.