Last week, in a dramatic turn of events, US Coast Guard confirmed the grim news of the catastrophic pressure implosion of the Titan Submersible en route to the Titanic wreckage site, killing all its five passengers aboard. While experts have been echoing their thoughts and perspectives on what led to such a traumatic fate of this deep sea exploration, for a layman, this serves as yet another harsh reminder of the uncertainty and risk involved in exploring uncharted territories.
Yes, most new endeavors are not as risky as deep-sea exploration, but what cannot be debated is the need for more detailed planning, skillful execution, and the need to partner with the right experts to ensure intended outcomes. So, in our blog post today, we will talk about the difficulties of integrating a less adventurous endeavor (and way more common in tech-led firms today) – emerging technologies.
An organization aiming to achieve digital quality assurance for emerging technologies has to deal with several challenges. Often these challenges appear insurmountable because it feels like walking in an unknown terrain where uncertainty and limited support rule the roads. But not when armed with an approach anchored to your business goals, expertise with deep accountability, metrics to track relevance and progress, and shorter feedback loops that keep you steered in your intended direction.
Unknown Unknowns: Struggle with Novelty
Testing emerging technologies presents the challenge of unknown unknowns, a term made famous by former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld at a news briefing in Feb 2012. Translated in layperson’s terms, unknown unknowns summarizes the idea that we don’t know what we don’t know.
And this is what it means when teams embark on the journey of testing and validating emerging technologies.
There is limited availability of detailed documentation, a lack of standard testing practices for testers to rely on and build upon, inadequate tech and tool support, and the inherent unpredictability of the technology at hand.
With so many constraints acting simultaneously, it requires testers to start from scratch while
- Defining the testing objectives,
- Building a robust strategy and a custom framework,
- Defining the test cases and results,
- Listing various test scenarios,
- Finding relevant benchmarks to compare and conclude their results on, and
- Creating detailed documentation to capture the essence and lessons for knowledge sharing within and across teams
While all this looks quite doable, the execution leaves a considerable gap between the intended and delivered outcomes. With limited domain expertise and insufficient exposure in testing emerging technologies, glaring gaps appear as the testing cycle progresses, with consequences ranging from increased downtime, productivity loss, security leakages, and unreliable performance to subpar user experience, expensive rework and bug fixing, unsustainable tech adoption and delayed time to market.
So, how do some companies successfully test and integrate emerging technologies within their business workflows? Well, there is one expensive and another cost-effective solution.
The expensive and obvious one is to build a team dedicated to this purpose by hiring the right experts and empowering them with the resources required to conduct this exercise successfully, irrespective of the cost.
The more cost-effective solution, and the one that successful high-growth firms constantly opt for, is partnering with experts who have been there and done that consistently. These partners
- Have ready-to-deploy dedicated testing experts for various domains
- Have a thorough understanding and hands-on experience in testing emerging technologies
- Know how to work their way through the agile setup of high-growth firms
- Are outcome-focused
- Bring expertise, accountability, and scalability
In short, such implementation partners help you create a method to the madness!
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Pedal to the Metal – Rapid Iterations
Emerging technologies evolve rapidly, putting additional strain on the testing teams since they need to keep up with the changes and be agile enough to validate them for smooth integration with the existing setup and record them comprehensively for seamless knowledge transfer. This translates into
- Constantly rejigging test plans, cases, and scenarios to accommodate the changes regularly
- Increase in regression testing to ensure the existing features work as expected after every addition
- Documenting the updates/changes accurately and consistently
- Collaborating and communicating clearly within and across teams so that everybody is aligned with the changes all the time
As a result, testing teams spend most of their time keeping up with the pace. As a result, more critical aspects of testing get deprioritized, like rigorous test planning, deeper test coverage, testing for edge scenarios, and diversifying use cases.
The situation worsens if organizations only deploy manual testers. Not only does this hamper the pace of testing of emerging technologies, it even results in poor accuracy levels and productivity loss.
So, if you aim for digital quality assurance, an excellent place to start is to understand where you are in your quality journey.
- An objective assessment of the “as-is” state,
- Envisioning the “to-be” state and
- The approach required to reach the “to-be” stage (a tailored combination of tools, tech stack, guidelines, expertise, accountability, and measurement metrics)
The reason why this assessment becomes critical is that every organization is uniquely placed in the quality journey of its product. Despite similarities in external challenges and customer preferences, every organization’s distinct set of constraints calls for a more customized testing framework to validate emerging technologies successfully.
It is also why off-the-shelf testing solutions or standard test platforms rarely produce the intended outcomes for organizations. Their inability to adapt to the domain and organizational context becomes their hindrance to making the desired quality outcomes for these firms.
Will it? Won’t it? – Integration Challenges
One of the critical aspects of testing emerging technologies is to validate their integration with legacy structures. To be able to test this successfully, teams need to do the necessary
- Compatibility checks across the tech stack
- Data migration checks (data format, data flow, and data integrity)
- Dependencies checks (among the different components)
- Performance and stability checks (pre and post-integration)
All these validations involve working with multiple interdependent workflows and stakeholders. This requires better collaboration, real-time information sharing across teams, adequate test artifacts reproducibility, and ample testing cycle visibility. Manual testing alone cannot produce this level of synergy since the teams often work in silos and at different speeds, leading to incongruence in efforts and knowledge sharing.
However, this challenge can be overcome with a custom-built test automation framework. Organizations that have successfully implemented emerging technologies agree that bespoke test automation frameworks (combining the best of manual and automated testing to suit the dynamic business requirements) hold the answer to the integration challenges of emerging technologies with legacy systems. They ensure frictionless adoption and result in reliable and stable integrated solutions.
This brings us to where we started. Embracing a new piece of technology requires a much more thoughtful and rigorous approach because the unknown factor is too significant and ambiguous to be ignored. Organizations that overlooked this aspect have had to pay the price due to poor implementation, unsustainable adoption, negative ROI, and delayed go-to-market. These developments can change the course of your business from good to great. But for that to happen, verifying their quality, reliability, security, and compliance is necessary.
So, no matter where you are in your adoption journey of an emerging technology, ensure you have a robust testing plan in principle and the right experts to implement it successfully.