“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
My recent posts have been quite bleak; relaying gloomy articles about future prospects for testers, and identifying threats to testing. I’m pleased to be moving into more optimistic territory this time. The world of software development is rapidly evolving, and testing is adapting too, but I believe this is an exciting time to be involved. Opportunities are plentiful and diverse.
I’m going to start by looking at some terms which are not commonly associated with testing, but which might help describe a business context which I believe underpins some of the changes in software development, and which contributes to the optimism I feel about the future.
Yes, this is something of a buzzword, but it has significant implications for anyone working in the development of technology. To (attempt to) put it in simple terms, Digital Transformation represents the desire within organisations to use technology as a means of improving their relationship with customers. There are some significant examples of government departments, financial institutions and other large enterprises that have recognised the need to modernise through their digital services. Here are just a few:
- The UK government, and the Australian government have both established Digital Transformation offices or programs
- The CEO of Barclays Bank in the UK discussed the importance to that organisation in this article
- Capital One have a dedicated Digital team and this blog explains more about their approach
Not only are the organisations themselves transforming, the practices and methods adopted in the development of technology are also transforming. For those who work, or who have worked in testing for large enterprises, these changes may already be apparent. If not, then there is a good chance that they soon will be.
In my view, this shift presents great opportunities. The focus on developing new technology, and on improving existing technology, naturally creates opportunities for testing. The proliferation of websites, mobile applications and other products which act as the contact points between organisations and their customers generates demand for information about those products, and their value.
The changes in how we work also present opportunities to enhance existing skills, to learn new skills and perhaps to specialise. There is more to follow on this next time.
“Take good care of your customers and they will take care of your business.”
Closely connected with Digital Transformation is the concept of Customer Experience. This addresses the interactions between an organisation and its customers, and the feelings and responses these interactions generate. Of course, the experience goes beyond the technology which organisations provide, and covers any contact that occurs throughout the customer journey.
Naturally, companies are eager to understand the experience their customers have with their products and services. This is apparent whenever you get asked to complete Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys asking you how likely you would be to recommend a product or service to your friends and colleagues. NPS is used as a quantitative measure of customer loyalty, but often the most valuable information elicited from such surveys are the follow up responses which describe in more detail what was perceived favourably or otherwise by customers.
These responses allow businesses to adjust their products and services, to improve the customer experience. Feedback from customers is incredibly valuable, but is typically provided only after some kind of purchase or transaction has happened. If this information can be provided early, before a product is released, it is potentially even more valuable. Beta testing and crowdsourced testing are identifiable as techniques which are used to provide some degree of early feedback on products, but I believe that the relationship between testing and customer experience goes far beyond that.
Testing can provide useful information on many aspects of a product which directly affect the customer experience. Consider, for example, application performance, security, accessibility or usability. If you have ever found a problem or provided information relating to these criteria, then you have helped your client understand the potential customer experience.
In my view, considering technology from the point of view of a customer, or acting as an advocate for the customer, are often important attributes for those of us involved in testing. When a skilled tester is able to articulate a problem from the point of view of the customer, colleagues tend to listen. Equally, a respected tester reporting on their experience with using a product is likely to be heard.
If clients are eager for valuable information on how their products might be perceived, then opportunities for testers with these attributes are only likely to increase.
Further reading and links:
If you are interested in Digital Transformation and what it means for testing, then it is worth reading Paul Gerrard’s paper from 2015: ‘Digital Transformation, Testing and Automation’
I must also mention my colleagues at AccessHQ who have helped me to learn about Customer Experience. If you use Twitter and are interested in this subject, I recommend following @TonyBaileyHQ and @MarkBishopHQ who both regularly share articles and insights.