This year, we will witness the fruition of the post-pandemic realities of remote work and digital everything. Tech is playing a stronger role in making sure that business objectives are being met. Since the human element of business, which previously made up for lack of product/service quality, has been reduced, tech is helping to overcome the lack of physical interactions during this time.
Changing customer desires have therefore caused the Quality Assurance discipline to evolve into Quality Engineering (QE). This encompasses all business processes and customer experience stages to ensure the absence of quality irregularities between each stage. What can we expect from QE as it continues to form its foothold in a variety of business sectors, from software development and manufacturing to health tech and aerospace? As 2023 proceeds, here are some of the top trends that should be on everyone’s radar for quality engineering.
1. Customer Experience Is At The Forefront
In the past, cost-effectiveness, product quality, time-to-market, and customer experience (CX) were all more or less equally important. But two years into the post-COVID-19 world, excellent CX has bubbled to the top in terms of what clients expect from a reputable business. The primary objective now is making the customer happy. CX attributes, such as security, performance, accessibility, user interfaces (UI), and user experience (UX) are especially important for validation.
To help businesses excel in CX, QE specialists must have a solid understanding of what the customer wants as well as what the business, as a provider, can do for them. For example, my team has thousands of testers analyzing a wide range of customer services, utilizing various strategies such as continuous performance monitoring, crowd testing, and cross-device testing. What’s consistent throughout all our work is that we always take moments to reconsider. We reflect on certain questions when approaching CX problems: Does this fit the customer’s needs? Should it be done in this way?
When testing for CX, our engineers have found that they need a complete understanding of the business, its service/product, and the technologies used by the business, as well. Only then can a QE team tell if something has been implemented properly, if it meets the needs of the business processes, and if it meets the experiential demands of the user. Such a validation would mostly require simulation techniques to virtualize the problem at hand. Furthermore, good CX requires that the QE team has a good understanding of human psychology, the target business, and its processes.
2. Quality Engineering Is More Than Just Testing
More interactive formats for CX have emerged and will play a larger role in 2023. For example, the digital migration of customer experience centers enables customers to try out a product online, while also allowing QE teams to collect and provide valuable and quantifiable test data to feedback into the development process. As quality assurance matures into quality engineering in newer models of software development and consumption processes, testing becomes quality orchestration across the business and/or technology lifecycle.
Thus, QE is not only expected to validate the functional and non-functional aspects of the systems but they are also expected to be the custodian of quality for the business processes that they respond to, owning better business outcomes as the success criteria. This way, QE elevates their activities from technology assurance to business assurance and, eventually, to brand assurance. The days of isolated testing are over, and the shift to bespoke Quality Engineering will continue.
3. Shift to Prioritizing AI and Machine Learning
Whatever the trending technologies are will become the trending priorities that are adopted in QE. Quality engineering in 2023 will require expertise in many areas, which may include artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain sectors. In order to provide quality engineering to businesses using these technologies, it is necessary to also become experts in those fields. This requires engineers to receive additional certifications to work with these technologies.
The use of AI and ML algorithms for test automation is starting to mature. Some areas where AI is utilized include Test Optimization, AI-based UI testing, and API testing. 2023 will see the continued application of AI toward testing and the setting of standardization for AI-based test automation processes.
Because business trends are constantly being influenced by ever-changing customer desires or new technologies, these trends directly inform which technologies and systems QE teams must learn. For example, if a logistics company wants to implement drones as a part of their delivery services, then QE teams would have to acquire expertise on drone delivery and monitor the deployment of the new system. Therefore, as systems change, quality engineers must also stay on top of these changes to ensure such systems are properly implemented.
4. Boundaries Between Industries Are Blurring
In 2023, we will see more of a blurring of the boundaries between industries as innovation that happens in one industry is adopted by and influences other industries. This can be seen in e-commerce and financial services, as well as in health and insurance industries. This brings the technologies from both worlds together.
There are several cases we can draw from where we see the blurring of boundaries. For example, blockchain was originally conceived as a financial services innovation, but now it’s everywhere. And augmented reality/virtual reality, originally seen as limited to gaming and entertainment, is now reaching all industries. The technology is now used to give a customer an in-branch bank experience, and even in healthcare and life sciences areas.
The adoption of technology from one industry to the other not only will improve CX, but also will lead to more seamless business processes.
Moving Beyond Testing
Quality engineering in 2023 has moved beyond simply testing to confirm if a piece of technology works. QE specialists need to know not only the technology but also the methodologies behind orchestrating quality for a good customer experience, as well as the business processes and needs that must also be addressed.
Quality engineering’s role in the testing and feedback cycle assures that new system are implemented successfully and feeds innovation back into the system. Through the continuous improvement that QE provides for clients, the products become stronger and innovation is fostered back into the system. Therefore, Quality Engineering is both a means of testing and an influence on continuous improvement—being the final catalyst that improves the end product or service.
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