The Internet of Things is becoming a major force to be reckoned with, as more objects gain IP capabilities and swarm the marketplace. Organizations now not only have to worry about managing smartphones, laptops and tablets, they also have to consider how their services extend to fridges, cars and wearables. There are mountains of business opportunities that are a result of the IoT, but it's up to developers and quality assurance teams to create the best software possible for these diverse items. Fostering collaboration in the Internet of Things testing community will be extremely important in the years to come, and could mean the difference between successful projects and those that fall by the wayside.
Lack of Universal Standards
For years, businesses believed that the IoT was a far-off blip on the horizon, but that speck became reality quicker than most thought. As expected, the IoT has introduced a number of challenges from how to handle security requirements to just how data would be stored, protected and transmitted across these machines. TechBeacon noted that while standards for this area began development in 2013, many are still working out the kinks. This means that a major trend in the technology world doesn't have a single universal standard, and that regulations are still in the maturation process. Without a set of standards, organizations are left to follow from other successful examples and forge their own way in the IoT space.
Standards are designed to help bring technologies together and provide guidance on how best to leverage particular trends. By creating a collaborative IoT testing community, QA teams can create conversations about what methods worked, why failures happened and what solutions may be helpful for the future in order to optimize a teams' quality assurance testing system. This type of effort can be essential to establishing a set of testing regulations while industry leaders continue to refine other aspects of IoT standards.
Don't Shirk Testing
One of the biggest issues with the IoT is that it's so vast. As we explained earlier, not only do teams need to test for the devices that we tend to use on a daily basis, but they also must run cases for other objects that they may not be familiar with. For organizations that are creating the IoT devices and accompanying software, it's critically important to ensure that the program and hardware interact seamlessly. Any changes that need to be made should not affect performance or user experience.
The debacle with the Nest Learning Thermostat taught a critical lesson of what could happen in the IoT space when testing isn't fully conducted. In late 2015, a software upgrade was sent to Nest, introducing a bug that caused loss of battery power and Internet disconnect, The New York Times reported. The defect wasn't felt until two weeks after the update had been pushed out, leaving many homes cold and Nest managers scrambling to fix the issue. Even the smallest errors or oversight in testing can lead to reverberating effects across the technology's user base, which is why it's so important to create a strong testing community that can head off these instances.
Create Internal Collaboration Opportunities
Legacy silos that once separated development and testing teams have been effectively torn down with devops and agile practices. As such, professionals from all backgrounds are now encouraged, and expected, to work more closely together on projects. Even when it comes to determining whether traditional testers should be involved with user experience testing, these professionals can produce better products by collaborating through test management tools. TechTarget contributor Gerie Owen noted that UX specialists have knowledge of design considerations while testers better understand the user from a practical standpoint. Combining these two forces will help provide a clearer picture for what users expect and how to actually execute these requirements. This collaboration can strengthen the IoT testing community and boost user experience across all channels.
"Testers have a better practical understanding of the end user, and in many cases have made significant contributions to requirements and user stories," Owen wrote. "I've seen circumstances where UX professionals have interpreted results in one way, only to have testers explain that the user community for this particular application didn't think that way."
The IoT is a difficult subject to address, but with a collaborative testing community, organizations can better prepare their software to handle challenges in this environment. With thorough testing, internal partnerships and maturing standards, IoT testing will become easier to manage.