Software may be eating the world, but AI is eating software. Funding in the sector continues to soar, as it was recently revealed that venture, corporate and seed investors have poured an estimated $3.6bn into AI and machine learning. This spells good news for bosses interested in boosting user experience.
The AI revolution has now come to testing, ensuring startups like DiffBlue make headlines for using AI to disrupt IT and developer tasks considered too repetitive or time-consuming. So will the concept of testing become the latest casualty of the AI revolution? In the future will testers seem as archaic as the old switchboard operators do today?
We think not. Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform so much of technology and our daily lives, but when it comes to testing for user experience in-app or on a website, it has its limits.
So much of the user experience is uniquely human. AI has an awful long way to go before it can accurately replicate and test for every scenario and environment in which an app or website may be used. The variations – internet speeds, local weather, infrastructure, time of day – are almost infinite.
Studies show that 85 per cent of customers are unlikely to continue engaging with a company after a poor mobile experience. Getting it right first time has never been more important.
The human experience
Imagine the scenario. You need a new phone. You research online and use the company’s website to choose the one you want. You’re in luck, it says it’s available in store.
No problems so far. You go to the store to pick it up and… you can’t find it anywhere. All the staff are busy and it’s still showing “available” on your screen.
As far as the company’s systems are concerned, there haven’t been any problems. It knows a user checked stock, but as far as they know you took no action. In the real world, a potential paying customer would have just had a frustrating experience. This is the point where they give up and go to a competitor.
If testing in the ecommerce world surrenders itself solely to AI, we will miss these tiny interactions with brands. The solution to the problem is in a way rather low-tech – crowdtesting, which we predict will continue to remain crucial for businesses wanting to offer the best digital experience for customers possible, until AI offers a viable alternative. So take that into account when you’re building an online strategy.
What is crowdtesting?
Just in case, crowdtesting puts digital properties (such as mobile apps, websites, IoT and connected devices) into the hands of people that are representative of your customer demographic. For instance, if you need women aged between 25 and 35 years old in the north west of England, crowdtesting uses the power of the community to find exactly the right type of people to test your product.
It creates a test environment that most closely mirrors the way the app/website will work on each device and in specific locations.
Crowdtesting thus provides businesses with a holistic view of their digital experience. Either you invite a community of experienced and vetted quality assurance (QA) professionals who can find any software bugs that an internal team may have missed, or you give it to people without a QA background, in order to focus on the intuitiveness of the solution.
The future of testing: AI won’t replace humans
AI has the advantage of being able to carry out repetitive tasks 24 hours a day without getting tired and it will almost certainly have a lower error rate than a human when spotting bugs in code. There’s little doubt that advancements in AI will change software testing for the better, but we need to remember it isn’t here to replace human testers.
Humans are complex and unpredictable, and AI is not yet sophisticated enough to replicate a human’s user experience with all the complexities that come with it. Businesses should take advantage of both to create the best QA solutions possible.
All aspects of computing that interact with a consumer can benefit from crowdtesting, and so developments such as bots, voice assistant platforms and artificial intelligence will be able to benefit from the wisdom of the crowd.
As more and more devices are designed to connect to the internet every day, crowdtesting remains a surefire way to track software bugs, ensure top quality digital experiences and get feedback from real on-the-ground users.
Sam O’Meara is UK director at Applause