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From Assuring Functionality, to Assuring Smartness

 
January 31, 2017

The previous post discussed the growing need for a personalized approach to mobile testing for the IoT, and the fact that the assurance function will soon be the guardian for not just functionality, interfaces and screens, but an entire ecosystem of connected devices. As promised, lets first explore a few futuristic use cases in artificial intelligence and social technologies that will impact us in the coming days.

For instance, Pokmon Go combined real world places, smartphone location, and virtual reality, it has captured the imagination and interest of gamers across the globe. Pokmon Go was eating into the traffic share of social networks and chat apps. In more practical, real world examples, we have health apps that talk to wearable devices, payment apps that interface with smart cards, and smart home appliances. Then, there are apps for the differently abled – Navatar to guide and provide directions to the visually impaired, Smoothtalker – a communication device for people with speech challenges, and Avaz, which offers home and classroom therapy for children with autism. Until the last decade, such use cases and integration levels were largely unimaginable.

Quite clearly, the IoT and mobility have a forced a re-invention of how we design, build and test software. Together, these disruptions are brewing a silent storm – making connected devices smarter and intelligent. Quality assurance (QA) teams have a larger responsibility here – of assuring not just functionality, but the smartness of connected devices. And assuring smartness calls for equally smart approaches and techniques. That's going to be my topic for this post.

The Future of QA in the IoT Ecosystem

Traditional QA approaches are no longer adequate for testing the plethora of connected devices that make up the IoT ecosystem. The erstwhile user action-system response test case structure clearly falls short of the testing expectations. The IoT test plan must now include controls for device performance, security, and even data validation – simply because, IoT devices feed enterprise systems with voluminous data. But there is no point clogging network bandwidth and feeding systems with irrelevant and inaccurate data. It's time for new age QA teams to seize this data validation opportunity, and play the role of the quality guardian in generating ideas, insights and solutions for businesses.

While doing all this, there is also the need to ensure flawless user experience. How can usability and interaction design be ignored? No wonder, these disciplines are making inroads into the assurance landscape, and becoming mainstream assurance areas. On the security front, it's time to move away from ad-hoc security testing (For example, test cases that try to penetrate firewalls and induce incidents) to a more proactive IoT defense strategy, comprising secure access architectures and end-to-end network protection.

For CIOs, the IoT use cases will also impact the choice of enterprise technology. Many companies have sizeable legacy infrastructure that cannot be discarded overnight – so CIOs cannot initiate IoT with a clean, new IT landscape. The cloud's 'as-a-service' model, with its elasticity, on-demand scalability, and most importantly, zero upfront, pay-per-use pricing model, is making its presence felt, and becoming the de-facto choice for IoT projects.

Moving beyond testing, QA has a dual role to play here – assuring efficient cloud deployment, and at the same time, also ensuring optimal utilization of legacy IT infrastructure. Perhaps, it's time to localize the principles of code reuse, and evolve strategies for device and infrastructure reuse.

When social media and Big Data hit businesses, QA lived up to expectations – despite Big Data's volume, variety, velocity, and veracity challenges. What social media did to human interaction and brand engagement, IoT is doing to devices and systems. QA's success with social media is a demonstration of its ability to adapt and evolve. QA must now take the IoT challenge head on, and deliver – smartly!

Manikanddan GC works as a Presales Consultant with TCS' Mobility Assurance Center of Excellence. He focuses on product strategy and management for digital quality experience platform. With 5+ years of experience, his work involves establishing 5 Stars mobile app quality transformations, mobile automation assessment and consulting. Other areas of interest include discovering futuristic predictive defect intelligence models, intelligent test case/test scenario engines for digital quality, NLP based test automation and formulating CX oriented test strategies.