Science fiction writers thought processes are often very intriguing. While we might dismiss some of them as extremely hypothetical, several such hypothetical ideas have seen the light of the day as successful products over the years. Some may have even sounded very crazy when the prediction was made. In this poet I look at the future of Software Testing industry and what the Saga of Technology Predictions can tell us.
Ray Bradbury was one such renowned science fiction writer. Current day products and technologies such as blue tooth headsets and digital walls have stark resemblances to predictions he made as early as in 1950s in his book Fahrenheit 451 that looked at the tightly coupled relationship between technology and our world. Interestingly, science fiction based films taken from such writers have also effectively show cased their ideas, which have further spurred technology inventions and innovations.
Trends in any discipline are important to understand what next is coming along and how to prepare for them to stay ahead of the curve. Every year we see several analysts, bloggers, writers share their thoughts on what trends to watch for in any industry. Trends are often based on patterns seen in data collected, along with a general sense of intuition on what will happen based on such gathered data. There is quite a bit of logic in identifying trends and this is where data mining, business intelligence and big data come into the picture. However predictions are several steps ahead. They typically feed off of trend analysis but are very futuristic in nature whereas trends are typically much shorter in their scope of relevance – say about 1-3 years. Beyond logic, there is a lot of intuition, creativity and some even say luck, for a prediction to come true. Who would have guessed Johnny Cab, the self-driving car from the film Total Recall in 1990, will take shape in a similar form as Google self-driving cars a couple of decades later? With such predictions take decades, if not years to become a reality, there are some quick and short term predictions too – especially ones that are outcome based. For example, which team would win the NFL, which team would win the 2014 soccer match? For such outcome driven predictions, several prediction engines are becoming popular, off late. Predictive analytics got a significant boost when Seahawks won the NFL earlier this year, in line with what such engines predicted. Similarly, Microsoft’s predictive technology, Cortana, has been largely accurate in predicting the results of the World Cup soccer games.
Devices and technologies on one hand continue to further enhance the chances of a prediction come true, while science fiction writers on the other are letting their imaginations wings fly, to take us into a world that our future generations may witness. All of these predictions along with trends are empowering us look ahead and prepare for what is to come, giving our thought process a futuristic shift too and prepare for the future of software testing industry.
Preparing for the Future
While thought process shift is one important thing, the other more critical piece is how we get ready to handle these at an implementation level. For example, as more driver-less cars come into the marketplace, how do we as software engineers (be it developers or testers) hone our skills and responsibilities to be able to deliver such cutting edge products? While undergoing formal training is one way to get ready for some of these newer areas, the challenges are around availability of good trainings (given that most of these topics are very new to the industry) and how practical they actually get. A lot of self-learning is going to be the key. Online resources are plentiful today. As a tester for example, I will need to pick the best available resources to suit my areas of interest instead of overwhelming myself with the myriad of options out there. Also, the tester needs to buy into a few testing practices which may not have been traditional ones that he has used so far – for example, more field testing may soon become the need of the day, global collaborations especially leveraging the crowd will greatly help bring in practical test coverage, special interest test workshops may have to be arranged amongst test teams (both internal and external to a given organization) to collectively help testers brainstorm and build the knowledge base for testing some of these complex devices and applications.
Future of Software Testing Industry
In summary, technology’s roots are branching out deep and strong across domains and geographies – it is becoming omnipresent. Predictions for what will happen in the future, give us a futuristic view into what to expect. Awareness on what these predictions are, mapping them to some of the more near term trends to the industry we belong to, along with preparedness (as outlined above) to handle these in the software implementation world, will certainly give a tester (or for that matter even a developer) a niche for himself to stay ahead of the rest. The future of software testing industry rests in your hands.