This following is part two of our exploration of the ten Gartner strategic technology trends and discusses the high-level performance testing challenges that Neotys foresees over the next few years (trends 6-10). To see trends 1-5, click here.
6. Conversational Platforms
Conversational platforms will present a new way of interacting with computers, their applications, and the broader digital world. Regarding human factoring, the focus will change from an optimized menu-driven, user interface design to the perfecting of natural language processing – end users will be able to vocalize commands rather than grappling with complex interface navigation and workflows.
Ultimately, this will once again involve the integration of AI technologies into applications, because platforms will need to apply reason to the inquiry and respond to commands by executing the requested function, presenting requested content, or seeking additional input. Further, the more robust applications will require complex APIs and event models to access, invoke, and orchestrate third-party services to deliver complex outcomes.
Potentially, these platforms will evolve to incorporate other “sensors,” such as sight, taste, smell, and touch, and interact with users in a multichannel way. This may also include the ability to analyze facial expressions and a user’s overall health status.
7. Immersive Experience
While conversational interfaces will alter how people control the digital world, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality will change how people perceive and interact with it. As a refresher, virtual reality (VR) provides complete immersion by rendering a computer-generated 3D environment that envelopes the user and reacts to his or her actions in a natural way. Augmented reality (AR) offers partial immersion and incorporates real-time information in the form of text, graphics, video and other content resulting in a composite view of real-world and superimposed computer-generated images.
Both the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) markets are nascent, fragmented, and lack definitive standards. As in any new market, the more novel applications deliver little real business value. To drive the tangible business benefits that organizations crave, businesses and vendors must identify use cases where VR and AR can increase employee productivity.
Gartner predicts that “mixed reality,” a combination of AR and VR, will prevail in the coming years. Mixed reality (MR) will expand both approaches to incorporate the physical world more robustly and provide more captivating experiences. Consider how integrating AR and VR with mobile devices, conversational platforms, and sensor-rich, IoT environments will fuel new and richer user experiences by enabling many connected things to align in context with virtual worlds.
A foundational technology that powers the digital transformations of many businesses and underpins the nascent “trust economy,” blockchain engenders trust among all participants because it enables the secure transfer of any asset of value. The asset can be anything – payment, record, food, land, intellectual property, etc. Gartner views blockchain as a shared and distributed mesh that can act independently from any individual application. Because blockchain is capable of securing trust in unsecured environments, it eliminates the need for a cleared central authority. As a result, blockchain can potentially become the foundation for disruptive digital transactions in both mature businesses and start-ups in many verticals including healthcare, manufacturing, media, and supply chain. It also has applications in government, identity verification, title registry, and a plethora of others.
Gartner warns that blockchain is immature and requires new technologies and safeguards to engender trust and promote adoption. To learn more about testing in the blockchain, read our recent blog.
This concept relates to event-driven IT. An “event” occurs in the course of normal business operation as business processes are executed. The event can be a high-level occurrence, such as a customer placing an order, or a more specific occurrence, such as a customer exceeding a credit limit while making a purchase. Today, when an “event” occurs in an enterprise, only some stages of the process are automated. For example, many business events trigger “notifications” that a technology platform sends to a human to alert them of an action they then need to invoke to initiate the next stage of the process. This serial human communication slows down the pace of digital business.
Gartner sees event-driven IT as transformational; they view event-driven IT as the digital business “nervous system” within an organization that orchestrates holistic control over the business response. Here’s an example: A car accident occurs on a city street. Rather than a witness reporting the incident, it is automatically detected by intelligent devices and software that alerts relevant stakeholders: Emergency personnel is dispatched, the nearest hospital is warned, insurance providers are notified, and other concerned parties are informed – automatically and without human intervention.
With event-driven IT, organizations and their ecosystems gain strategic advantage and possess faster and more intelligent situation-awareness and responsiveness. In this regard, Gartner sees event-driven IT as an essential enabler of digital business. Further, they envision “business moments”– detected situations that demand business action (E.g., a dramatic stock market dip, a detected hospital admission pattern, news about a customer, partner or competitor, etc.) Identifying significant business moments early can be highly consequential to any enterprise, because it enables them to serve their customers, gain market share and compete. And recognizing business moments that have implications for multiple parties (E.g., separate applications, lines of business or partners) may offer greater business impact.
Expect event-drive IT to deliver enterprise agility, flexibility, and scalability. It will also increase overall complexity and stress the testing community as each new touch point is introduced into the business ecosystem.
10. Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust
In the good old days of single-tenant application development, vendors enjoyed 12-month release cycles, and enterprise deployments were safely hidden behind layers of security appliances. Lack of strong security posed little risk. However, as enterprises began delivering multi-tenant offerings to the cloud, where any vulnerability can put millions of customers at risk and destroy brands, everything changed. Enterprises awoke to the dangers of cyber and DDoS attacks. Although security has become a focal point in most enterprises, even in this risk-prone environment of cyberattack, many companies remain slow to integrate secure coding and testing practices into their daily development and still allow security activities to languish at the end of development cycles. When one considers the multiple technology components of the evolving digital mesh, such as cloud services and big data, mobile and IT devices, rapid DevOps, and blockchain, it becomes evident that organizations require better techniques to overcome the barriers between their development and security teams. Security and risk management experts must adapt to risk, ensure trust, and implement security techniques for the digital age able to surmount the limitations of perimeter defense and rule-based solutions.
Gartner’s CARTA paradigm offers new security and risk mindset. CARTA stands for Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment. To pursue emerging business opportunities, organizations must apply this philosophy across the business from DevOps through external partners to embrace the opportunity, manage risk, and deliver the security that moves at the speed of digital commerce. Organizations must integrate security testing at multiple points within DevOps workflows in a manner that promotes collaboration while increasing the transparency, agility, and speed of DevOps and agile development environments. This is called “DevSecOps,” a holistic strategy that brings security, development, and ops together.
Digital business will require more advanced security solutions that offer access protection, role-based granularity, and adaptive assessment as systems and information are exposed to the digital mesh.
The Implications of Gartner’s Second Five Trends on Performance Testing
When reading about these five additional trends, they present themes that augment those discovered in our first Gartner trend blog. The intertwining of people, technology, and devices underpins the progression from menu-driven user interfaces to conversational, voice-driven interfaces. Immersive and augmented experiences will catapult the customer’s digital experience into richer virtual planes. Event-driven IT achieves the next threshold of a responsive world.
So what are some of the implications of these Gartner trends on performance testing?
Conversation with the Software: Ensuring excellent user experiences during the transition from menu-driven to conversation-driven interfaces will be challenging for testers. Will interfaces be primarily voice-driven or will some offer written input? Many end-users have accents or mumble when they speak presenting obstacles for the application’s language processing capabilities. Applications that rely on Natural Language Processing will require vigorous testing practices to ensure the desired user experiences and business outcomes.
Further, applications will use various AI-enabled technologies to guide user-driven conversations and anticipate user wants and objectives. Test coverage plans and user scenarios will need to foresee user objectives to ensure desired outcomes. That will add another layer of complexity to an already overburdened QA landscape. Testing tools will need to evolve accordingly and incorporate similar AI-enabled capabilities to support QA and performance testers as they work to overcome these and related challenges.
APIs Rule: As we move toward the digital mesh, we’ll see more devices, more applications, more operating systems, more interconnectedness, and more jobs that the application under test must complete. APIs will undergird the many of the integrations between applications, servers, devices, things, and data flow.
As testing complexities increase with the number of integrations, things, and business ecosystems, QA teams will need to encourage several testing best practices including:
- API and functional test to validate communication and the transfer of data between devices.
- Load and performance test to protect user delight and ensure that applications are production-ready within ever-tighter timeframes.
Security Embraces CARTA:
Given the security vulnerabilities that will arise as the digital mesh evolves, arguments for shift left security testing are only strengthened. Once the code is in production, it’s usually too late to implement precautionary measures. Shift left security testing allows teams to collaborate with risk management and security professionals, vet configurations, perform various tests early, and reuse those tests continuously throughout the application lifecycle. Providing early, iterative quality feedback during development decreases the number of security defects found later in the lifecycle, where the impact on the business can be severe.
Further, CARTA will provide the framework needed to develop enterprise proficiency in risk management. In organizations employing DevOps, developers will work more collaboratively with security teams to incorporate multiple security testing points throughout the development cycle, thereby implementing “DevSecOps.” With DevSecOps, enterprises mandate a focus on application security early in development when teams can identify threats and more easily eliminate them before application release. DevSecOps will help development teams balance security requirements with the intricacies of accelerated software development and release.
Last, CARTA takes into account the insight provided by data analytics. After application deployment, machine learning and anomaly detection will help organizations identify threats able to bypass perimeter and prevention defense faster and orchestrate an automated response.