In a recent Forbes interview on the retail customer experience, Harley Manning, VP and research director of Forrester’s customer experience team, said; “Customer expectations are rising slowly—but faster than brands are making improvements.” He further elaborated that the average score in the firm’s CX Index™ for US digital retailers decreased from the prior year, with no retailer breaking through the 85th percentile to make it into the “excellent” category.
Today’s complex, digital world relies on computer systems and software and downtime is more than an inconvenience—in many industries, it’s a critical failure that can have a lasting, negative impact on customer experience, the corporate brand and the bottom line.
Wikipedia will tell you that “software testing is an investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the software product or service under test.” While technically accurate, this definition does not encapsulate all that testing does and how critical the function is in our complex, hyperconnected world.
A recent SD Times article suggested that AI is not delivering tangible testing improvements, cautioning “…customers need to realize there’s probably more hype than reality in most of what test solution vendors are saying.” This sentiment reminds us of the unhelpfully polarized “manual-vs-automated test execution” debate that held back testing for 10 years and we’ve only recently moved on from with the realization that there’s a place for both in testing. It would be catastrophic for the testing industry if we went into another 10 year debate of “AI-vs-non-AI” only to realize that there are strong benefits to AI, but it probably doesn’t solve everything.
These sentiments are unhelpful and dangerous to the testing community. Sure, there are exaggerated claims about the use and impact of AI in some products, but there are also fantastic products that demonstrate that the technology can deliver real improvements today. Below are just a few examples of how AI can help testing now—not several years down the road:
A recent Forbes Insights survey confirmed that there is strong C-Suite interest in artificial intelligence, with eighty percent of CEOs and eighty-five percent of IT leaders pointing to AI as a core component of their digital transformation efforts. While the technology is sometimes—and mistakenly—associated with job loss, AI’s true power actually lies in its ability to augment human decision-making.
In early 2017, US grocery chain Winn-Dixie invested $7 million to improve its website but overlooked a critical component: testing to ensure it was accessible to people with disabilities. This mistake garnered national attention when the retailer lost a federal case accusing it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Winn-Dixie lawsuit is considered a landmark case but it’s hardly a unique situation—website compliance suits are on the rise. According to a legal blog tracking these cases, there were at least 2,258 such suits filed in the US alone in 2018—an increase of 177 percent from the prior year.
Businesses want software that delights end users. Customer experience is the priority. But even as the requirement for ever better experiences grows, actually delivering on that requirement is getting harder.
When people are angry, they have always taken to the streets to protest.
They still do.
But the internet offers an alternative forum in which to voice strong opinions. So what happens when that forum is cut off?
There are certain inalienable truths about businesses: they all want to succeed and they all want to beat their competitors. What's slightly different is how a business defines success. For a healthcare company, it might be lives saved. For an insurance company, it's the number of policies bought. For an e-commerce retailer, it's shopping basket conversions.
You can find 28 million apps on Google Play and 22 million in Apple’s App Store. Yet, nearly one in four people who download an app use it only once. Apps are incredibly slow under certain circumstances, don’t work in key parts of the workflow, and have less-than-optimal usability. The app scrap heap is growing because many organizations are still testing to ensure code quality, not a superior user experience (UX).