Software Development and Testing Trends to Watch in 2021

Jennifer Waltner
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Emerging opportunities in delivering digital excellence

Digital experiences remain critical in 2021 as companies and consumers accept new realities. Organizations that embraced rapid digital acceleration in 2020 were better able to adapt to shifting demand patterns and achieved advantages in a volatile market — a trend that will continue in the year ahead.

Learn how industry experts expect software development and testing to evolve in the face of emerging market opportunities and mounting pressure to deliver excellent digital experiences.

Continuing focus on contactless interactions

While many restaurants and retailers struggled during the pandemic, others quickly shifted to provide more flexible options. Customers embraced buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), as well as curbside and expanded delivery options from their favorite shopping and dining destinations. As lockdowns loosen and people cautiously resume their routines, companies in a variety of industries, including restaurants, retailers, transportation, travel and hospitality, should expect customers to continue to demand low-contact and touchless interactions.

As companies roll out new experiences like keyless hotel entry or touchless payments, they should consider the entire process from the customer’s perspective to ensure satisfaction. These tools must do more than just work properly; they need to function smoothly, easily and intuitively to keep customers coming back.

Services complement wearables

Steady growth in the wearables market inspired several major players to launch companion services to help users get more out of their devices. For example, in the fitness space, Amazon Halo, Apple Fitness+ and Fitbit Premium tap into customer data to serve up related health and wellness content. Services offering guided workouts, coaching, recipe and diet recommendations create a seemingly straightforward add-on revenue stream for wearables makers.

IDC analysts predict that wearable devices and services will evolve together in 2021 to increase demand. "Device makers are also laying the groundwork that will allow consumers to use multiple wearables in conjunction with each other,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Imagine tying positional and audio input from hearables with health metrics from the wrist to gauge a user's level of attention or excitement in the surrounding environment. That's a powerful new experience that can bring added utility to consumers and vendors alike."

Connecting data across devices and services demands comprehensive testing to guarantee flawless digital experiences. Wearables makers must understand how their companion apps interact with different devices (often from multiple manufacturers) and how easily users can access personalized services. User experience studies conducted early in the SDLC can provide insight to shape outstanding offerings — digital experiences that delight users and inspire deeper engagement.

User experience studies conducted early in the SDLC can provide insight to shape outstanding offerings — digital experiences that delight users and inspire deeper engagement.

The rise of codeless automation

In a recent article for VMblog, Jonathan Zaleski, Applause’s senior director of engineering, predicted that companies will turn to low-code/no-code or codeless automation to help them become more nimble and flexible in 2021 and beyond. Under pressure to deliver more digital assets faster, teams can’t simply embrace speed at quality’s expense. This tradeoff poses a serious risk to customer experience and damage to the brand’s reputation.

Many organizations embrace Agile and DevOps methodologies to help speed development; a codeless automation solution can help address the quality side of the equation. Test automation helps companies improve digital quality by working smarter, not harder. When implemented effectively, test automation allows teams to quickly deliver defect-free releases. But setting up automation takes time and money — scant resources for most development teams.

Codeless automation solves this problem, helping businesses set up test automation without high upfront investment costs. Rather than hiring or training coders to write automation scripts, QA pros can create scripts with little or no automation expertise. Codeless automation is an ideal solution for simple test cases that don't require automation experience and expertise. Low-code/no-code automation lowers the barrier to entry for automation, making continuous testing more attainable for all brands. This is another area that will grow in the coming year, as teams try to deliver excellent products quickly.

Stay ahead of the trends

As digital platforms evolve and new customer experiences emerge, organizations must take a dynamic approach to ensure product excellence. What worked five years ago might not suffice today.

Applause customers can take advantage of thorough manual functional testing to ensure requirements are met, then conduct user experience testing to gauge how the product works in the real world. But Applause doesn’t stop there. Applause offers testing for emerging technologies and interfaces, including voice/AI testing and AR/VR testing for businesses that want to engage their customers in a whole new way. Applause helps you deliver exceptional product experiences regardless of the medium, device or location — now and into the future.

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