Did We Get It Right? – A Review Of Our 2016 Predictions

“Science is not, despite how it is often portrayed, about absolute truths. It is about developing an understanding of the world, making predictions, and then testing these predictions.” Brian Schmidt

Schmidt is an Australian educator of repute – in the spirit of heeding the advice of our teachers let’s take a look back at what we predicted for the world of testing in 2016, and test just how on (or off target) we were.

  • Internet of Things:
    In many ways, this was an easy prediction to make and it’s fair to say that we hit the mark, clearly, the market has dramatically expanded. Zinnov estimated a 2016 market of USD 54 Billion for IoT Technology products and Gartner estimated that 6.4B connected things were in use worldwide in 2016, a growth of 30% over 2015. We predicted that such growth in IoT products would call for a greater emphasis on usability testing and performance testing and a sustained emphasis on automation in testing. In usability, the focus last year was on testing facets like installation, interoperability, and the launch and usage experience. Performance factors in focus were load-bearing capability, speed, and scaling ability. Among the key features in the IoT world are “Over The Air” updates (OTA) – where the OS and firmware get updated frequently. Many releases call for increased regression testing – a natural fit for greater automation.
  • Mobile Testing:
    Digital Transformation of enterprises, driven by the growing power of mobility was one of the defining trends of the year gone by. We estimated that there would be a slew of new mobile apps focused on mCommerce and mobile payments. This seems to have panned out a shade slower than expected in the early part of the year but with some tailwinds later in the year. Business Insider estimated US in-store mobile payment volume to reach $75 billion in 2016, indicating some resistance from consumers. Late in the year, though, a high-growth market like India witnessed a strong push towards digital payments. Our estimate had been that with the growth of such mobile-enabled businesses would come a greater emphasis on security and penetration testing of mobile apps – it’s fair to say this has panned out as expected. We had also predicted the rise of testing for voice commands with the rise of Siri. In many ways, this trend has moved faster than our estimates with the sudden advent of digital assistants like Amazon Alexa.
  • Agile Development / Continuous Delivery:
    These are trends that we really took to heart over the year. If you have been following our blogs you would have seen numerous references to the changing role of testing and test automation in the Agile way of life, and most recently, on the DevOps approach and how testing has been impacted. Perhaps the most visible difference in software development due to Agile and DevOps has been the ever-shorter iterations and the increasing number of releases. The world of software testing has been impacted in multiple ways – testing is getting involved at much earlier stages in the product lifecycle and is much more closely integrated into the product development and deployment process and automation is playing a greater, and more critical role – just like we expected.
  • Security Testing:
    Even in the earlier sections on IoT and Mobile Testing, security testing has found mention. The appearance of threats like the Mirai botnet in 2016 only reinforced just how important security testing had become over the year. This applies across mobile apps, web apps, and desktops apps and the need is for comprehensive security testing. It became fair to assume that any vulnerability in your code or in the code of any of the underlying technologies or products would be open to exploitation and this only drove up the emphasis on security testing. The “World Quality Report 2016”, jointly published by Cap Gemini, Sogeti and HP, reported that 65% of the QA executives surveyed found security to be their top concern. This was more or less in line with what we had predicted at the start of the year.
  • Focus on automation in testing over test automation:
    This was more a fervent appeal than a prediction, to make automation more strategic or more central to the process of creating high-quality products. The objective was to ensure that the full benefits from the automation initiative shone through. To this extent we are happy that, at least in the interactions that we have been having, the focus has shifted from achieving “fewer testers” to doing “better testing”, and from unattainable goals like “100% test automation” to strategic impact”. We still believe that the role of automation is to support the testers, not to replace them and more and more are coming around to that way of thinking – kind of like we predicted!

Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future”. We are in no position to disagree with a Nobel Laureate – so despite the reasonable accuracy of our 2016 predictions, we are in no rush to turn in our software development hats for a crystal ball!

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