At the recent Accelerate San Francisco 2018 conference, Tricentis was joined on stage by big-name customers, global partners and well-known quality and DevOps evangelists. This was the first time a U.S. date for Accelerate was added alongside its annual stop in Vienna, Austria. And, while the number of attendees was impressive—especially when Google IO and Microsoft Build were held the same week—it was the undeniable sense of urgency running through the audience that stood out, to me, as the week’s biggest takeaway.
Having covered countless software and technology conferences over the years, it’s always somewhat eye-rolling when the hosting vendor or conference organizer uses their time on stage poorly. I often see this done in one of two ways. They either, a) relentlessly try to sell you on a current transformation or shift that no one really buys into, or, b) only explain that there is a shift—one that everyone agrees on—but then offer no actionable information for those who will be impacted by it.
Agile, DevOps, digital transformation, continuous integration/delivery—all of which came up throughout Accelerate—have been the focal points of software conferences for years. These shows have given development and operations teams a wealth of information, case studies, lessons learned, best practices and inspiring keynotes, and they should be commended for it. But, today’s CIOs are frantically looking for the culprit behind how they’ve invested so much to make these processes and methodologies possible—yet, are still struggling to get high-quality, software out the door faster. Many of these CIOs are realizing the glaring oversight that they, and these conferences, have made.
Accelerate San Francisco’s manual testers, automation engineers, exploratory testers, test managers, QA directors and more didn’t have to be sold on the idea that testing has an enormous opportunity to solve the challenges their CIOs are facing today. Those who truly respect the power of “good” testing (an the artistry behind it) have always known what testers were capable of providing to the business. However, testing has been hamstrung by legacy technologies that prevented moving at the same pace of their development and operations colleagues.
But, today, those constraints have been removed, thanks to innovative test automation technologies and testers and QA professionals may not even have to sell their “new” worth to management. More and more often, the C-suite is recognizing software testing as an untapped resource for innovation, and many of Accelerate’s attendees could clearly sense the attention and expectations from their leadership on the horizon.
Day 1 of Accelerate was largely product-focused and featured a number of “discovery” and “deep dive” sessions led by the product owners of some of Tricentis Tosca’s most popular functionality. Continuous Testing, Load Testing, API Testing & Service Virtualization, SAP Testing were all showcased and demoed to existing customers and those evaluating whether Tricentis could assist them on their own unique journeys. Day 1 wrapped up with a product road map discussion given to a standing room-only crowd, and led by Tricentis chief product officer, Dr. Gerd Weishaar.
Day 2 kicked off with a bang with what was dubbed, “The Great Debate in Software Development.” Electric Cloud’s Anders Wallgren, Accenture’s Jeff Wilkinson and Tricentis founder Wolfgang Platz sat down to discuss who owns quality today, why that responsibility might change, and how testers and SDETs can be prepared for the future. There were some really outstanding—and oftentimes, conflicting—points made by each panelist, including:
“Development is a skillset; quality engineering is a mindset.”
“Testing is always reactive; quality engineering is proactive.”
“Quality is a frequency and depth of measurement game.”
Once we get the debate’s recording online, I’ll share the link in a future blog, and would love to keep the conversation going with anyone who is interested. There was so much that was presented that’s worth discussing and debating further.
Dr. Nicole Forsgren took the stage immediately after the debate and introduced her new book, “Accelerate,” (how could we not have invited her to a conference with the same name?) that she co-authored with fellow DevOps household names Gene Kim and Jez Humble. I’m constantly looking for ways to get testing more on the minds of DevOps community (because it makes zero sense for it to be so absent), so I was thrilled to learn that continuous testing has made it into DORA’s next “State of DevOps” report. Their annual survey that this report is focused on should be released soon, so look out for that.
Tricentis CEO Sandeep Johri then took the stage to give his thoughts on Tricentis’ role within the current state of software testing. Johri pointed out that while software becomes the key to success in many digital transformation initiatives, it also becomes a serious problem when software cannot be released at the speed that business demands. “Who cares if you can develop faster if you can’t also ship faster?” said, Johri. “You cannot ‘ship and pray’ in the enterprise.”
Being able to ship faster—with a sound, risk-based assessment of each release candidate—requires continuous testing, said Johri. And, to CIOs who historically have viewed testing as a bottleneck to innovation, I can see where this could be a hard sell. “You know that thing that you hate? The thing that costs a fortune, and takes forever, and doesn’t provide you with an easily discernible ROI? Do that way more, or, better yet, do it all the time.”
But, as Johri remarked—and I’d never actually heard someone word it this way—”Testing isn’t a bottleneck. Scripting is.” This is 100 percent accurate, and, as CIOs in greater number begin to realize this, continuous testing will become not just better understood, but a must-have in every organization. It’s the manual effort around testing that slows you down, stalls innovation and adds increased costs around the requirement for testers or developers to have coding expertise. These costs and bottlenecks are what CIOs want to eliminate. As awareness of modern test automation technologies that remove these constraints increases, Johri predicts that the solutions that can’t offer the same level of agility at scale will continue to fade from the market.
The next keynote of the day was given by Tricentis founder Wolfgang Platz. While Platz gave due-credit to what I’m calling the “A.I.-lephant in the room,” it was the advice to the Accelerate attendees of how to navigate the current transformation going on in world around them that I found most inspiring. Platz shared the current strategic priorities for CIOs in 2018, and it was remarkable how clear it was to everyone in the crowd where they could assist with meeting each one of them.
We hear all the time about lofty aspirations such as, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility,” and, “DevOps establishes that every team is working toward the same goal.” But, when Platz ran through CIO priorities such as digital transformation, customer experience, data analytics, moving faster, improving culture, scaling agile development and freeing up budget, eyes didn’t roll. People didn’t groan or walk out. It was clear that the entire room understood exactly what they were capable of by trading the limitations of yesterday for the capabilities of tomorrow.
Today’s CIOs have never been under more pressure to avoid disruption, and my biggest takeaway from Accelerate was that the testing community understands that accomplishing this monumental task—in every software release—is only possible with their involvement.
Let’s see how many testers continue to navigate through change introduced by others, and how many take the opportunity to drive new change themselves.