Democratising software development for automated testing


Gareth Smith, CTO of Eggplant looks into the digital transformations companies will need to make to keep their competitive edge.

Businesses across the world are adopting technology like never before as digital transformation has become essential to create a competitive advantage necessary to survive. Whether it is to maximise performance outcomes or overall user experience, organisations across all industries have a lot to gain from embracing technology and a lot to lose if they don’t.

This has of course been largely impacted by the ongoing pandemic, which has essentially put digital transformation in a pressure cooker. Executive teams have turned inwards to reevaluate their digital transformation plans in order to keep up with the world we now find ourselves in. However, not all businesses have digitally skilled staff such as software engineers on hand to implement and lead these projects. Firstly, these skills are expensive, with the average software development engineer earning £43,597 in the UK – it’s an expense not all businesses can afford to have on books at all times. Secondly, there is a huge skills gap to compete with. UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, also admitted just last month that the UK has “too few of the right skills for the jobs our economy creates”. 

These factors coming together have created an interesting and innovative movement in the tech world – citizen developers. This term describes an individual who creates new business applications and services within an organisation using low-code/no-code software. Citizen developers are able to design and build applications which can be adapted and personalised to a business’ needs, with no technical skills required. Ultimately, as more and more organisations implement digital projects, the role of citizen developers is expected to increase as the need for the democratisation of software development becomes critical. 

A low code / no-code approach

Implementing flawless technology is come to be expected by the customer but it is not an easy feat by any means. Even big brands already operating within the tech space, with the capital to afford in house STEM talent, have still suffered negative impacts as a consequence of the pandemic. 

Now smaller brands, in fact – any brand is required to have an online presence and offer online services in a way that suits the customer. This means – fast loading times and seamlessly performing applications on all platforms and operating systems. Smaller businesses that never had to rely on having a digital presence have had to adapt quickly and create websites, apps and services without hesitation. They can’t risk getting left behind. For example, earlier in the year when restaurants pulled down their shutters for lockdown in the UK, quick-acting restaurant chains started introducing at-home meal kits which could be ordered online, ensuring that they were still able to operate. 

However, not everyone has the technical know-how to develop the services needed to survive. Businesses without in-house skilled talent may approach this problem with a recruitment drive – but this isn’t possible for everyone. As mentioned above, technical talent in the UK is unfortunately low, especially for software development professionals, making the tech recruitment landscape very competitive. It will require a lot of proactivity from the HR department as well as a hefty investment to offer the type of high salaries needed to attract skilled workers away from their current jobs. To move at the speed required, a new approach to digital transformation is critical. 

An alternative way to combat the shortage of talent is through democratising software development and adopting a low-code/no-code approach. Low-code and no-code applications have helped countless businesses create websites, apps and services needed to survive. This isn’t anything new, but its capabilities are only now being fully realised. Brands are using low-code and no-code platforms to digitalise at pace and with ease. These platforms provide visual interfaces which companies can use much like the drag-and-drop style solutions to creating any digital product. The tech and coding elements are already developed, so businesses don’t need to worry about learning code or hiring an individual with technical experience.  

Going one step further…

Whilst implementing this technology to transform organisations is a massive step forwards, this is still not enough.  To not be left behind in the dust, businesses must ensure their digital products are flawless and reliable. Technology performance has increasingly been tethered to business performance, whether companies like it or not. Therefore, technology which can be relied upon is key to providing customers with a quality experience and ultimately driving business success. 

Exceptional customer experience is essential to the success of a company, therefore perfecting the user experience should be high on a list of priorities. Through end-to-end test automation teams can focus on delivering a consistently high-quality experience at every interaction and on every operating system, device and platform. End-to-end testing is a software testing methodology which tests an application from start to end. It simulates real user scenarios and assures there are no bugs or glitches in the software, guaranteeing the customer experience is faultless. Continuously testing and finding any flaws within the technology quickly and effectively enables companies to optimise resources, release new and updated software faster, and deliver higher quality software and applications. 

Democratising this process through automated and low-code/no-code platforms is another vital step needed to ensure companies can have a competitive edge, essential for businesses success in our post-pandemic world. As with low-code and no-code platforms, automated testing requires minimal to no technical skills. For example, a no-code approach is used to define the landscape or user journey an organisation wants to test. Citizen developers can use drag and drop solutions to create desired journeys to detect any problems within the software. This tech allows for organisations to test any technology, at any layer to ensure the business’ tech is reliable and flawless, resulting in exceptional customer experience without adding additional budget or resources.   

Implementing flawless technology is no longer considered innovative and ahead of the curve. It is now a prerequisite for business success. Democratising software development through low-code/ no-code platforms and automated end-to-end testing is critical to ensuring businesses across the UK do not become, and remain, digitally disconnected. 

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Gareth Smith

Gareth is a proven leader of product marketing, product management solutions, and presales teams, most recently for Software AG’s Digital Business Platform. Prior experience includes Progress Software where he held several positions including Director of Product Management and Principal Software Architect.

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