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Concluding Blog – EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference 2018

  • 10/12/2018
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  • Posted by Nicola
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Reporter Update from the EuroSTAR 2018 Software Testing Conference:

As I conclude my narration of EuroSTAR 2018 conference, I have to highlight this year’s theme of ‘I don’t know’ / ‘Je ne sais pas’ couldn’t have been more apt for my role of a reporter, as it is all about asking questions. It is about being curious about what was happening around me, who were the people involved and how was the outcome – to question, observe and reflect, was to me is the crux of this role. I feel privileged to have had this opportunity of discovery which has led me to many more interesting questions.

This was my second opportunity to play the role of a community reporter this year – UKSTAR 2018 being the first one. Following my last experience, I decided to give it a spin of my own by speaking to people about two featured topics which I felt is relevant, or of common interest to the testing community. This was also with the intent that every opinion that I came across gets expressed in my blog, as part of an aggregated view. The two topics I chose was (1) speaking to speakers – gathering inputs for people who are aspiring to speak (2) Future of testing – how testing professionals feel about the trends of testing which is rapidly changing. Here is the gist of my conversations.

 

  1. Speaking to the speakers:

The reason I took up this topic was to utilise the opportunity of being amongst some of the most seasoned and confident speakers from the Testing world. I wanted to gather this for the benefit of everyone in the testing community who aspires to go on stage. Every speaker I spoke to was highly encouraging of more people to consider speaking. Here are the highlights:

  • Tell your story: This was the most common input from the speakers, including highly regarded speakers like Isabel Evans and Graham Freeburn. They all encouraged testers to not hold themselves back for the reason of the topic having been covered many times in past conferences. The message was that the topic need not be unique because the individual’s stories are. Graham also highlighted the importance of making a good submission for conferences – give it good thought and attention he recommended
  • Do your homework: Declan O’Riordan who is a regular speaker mentioned that he spend over 1000 hours of preparation for his topic about blockchain, which goes to show the lengths speakers can go to gather data and information to support their presentation. Better preparation can give you increased confidence.
  • Start small: Andrea Contan, an upcoming speaker, suggested a scripted talk at first and when the initial confidence has been achieved go for a less rigid format, going with the audience and your own state of mind
  • Jump with both feet in: Noted speaker Natalie Rooseboom de Vries van Delft felt that the best way to get used to speaking is to just take a plunge. She felt people often hold themselves thinking they don’t have a topic which interests others and she encouraged people to step over it. Even it is a story already been told you might have something unique to add. Finding a buddy or a forum to support would be a good idea. Experienced speakers are always ready to help she added
  • Find your bigger self: Alan Richardson shared this input about how to be on stage you need to work on a stage persona and be your bigger self which I thought was a great insight on how to leave an impact on your audience
  • Drawing parallels: Michael Bolton encouraged speakers to not be afraid and share your story and experiences. He also offered a great tip about tying something of your interest to testing. Michael quoted his own example of how being interested in airline industry and to draw parallels from it to testing practices
  • Have the courage of hutzpah: This was the thought shared by Andrew Brown. Hutzpah is a term in yiddish which means doing something that you are not sure of.
  • Get accustomed to speaking: James Christie encouraged novice speakers to address small audience first and grow from there. Look for opportunities to get used to public speaking which could be at social events. He also said that most people are on your side unlike when you are perhaps a politician!
  • Focus on the ‘why’: Karen encouraged speakers to get motivated about the ‘why’, which will drive the courage. i.e., If one is to ask “Why do public speaking?”, it is because it will make it easier to face other challenges – for example some meetings that we consider intimidating
  • Take a deep breath and enjoy: This was an incredibly comprehensive input that Dot Graham share in just a couple of minutes – “Get help from seasoned speakers, review your presentation, rehearse the talk and time it, practise with a smaller group, ensure there is a good message, look for experience based examples and on the day take a deep breath and Enjoy!”

In conclusion, I would like to share this message on behalf of all the eminent speakers. We need people to come forward and share their stories. Please do not hold yourself back, there is an audience waiting to hear all about your story and your experience!

 

Future of testing

This is a topic I am curious about personally and have in recent times wondered how the wider technical community feels about it. The exact question I asked every person (including the speakers) was “The future of testing seems to be getting more technical and innovation focused. Do you feel excited or nervous”? Here are some of the notable responses.

 

Excited about future: These thoughts were reflected by those who felt excited for future of testing:

  • Increased innovation is bound to bring better tools and hence empowering the evolution of testing as a function. It is a development that we should all feel positive about
  • In the life cycle of any product, technology comes later, people are first. While the future is exciting and perhaps promises to be interesting with the ascent of AI, human interaction will still be required
  • Automation does not rule out thinking about testing, it just makes it faster. Innovation is an integral part of testing, there is no reason to fight it. We all need to be more educated about innovation before drawing conclusions
  • Changes are inevitable but the basics are all still relevant. We should embrace technology. Tools are meant to augment people not replace them
  • Trends come and go, it is not too difficult to go with the flow but to get an understanding of the core of testing and improve skills, mindset is much more important. Important for testers of have well rounded knowledge to adapt well to the changing trends
  • Have the audacity to work in new technologies but don’t lose focus on quality matters
  • The new developments will lead to opportunities of learning new skills. We need to exploit the new technologies to improve quality
  • It is not a phase, it is the way forward but there is a place for everyone – it is important to collaborate and learn from each other no matter how the trends change
  • Mundane tasks can be taken over by machines, so testers can focus on growing in more important aspects. Also development of easy to use software (e.g., drag and drop automation tools) will bring more testing talent into automation space
  • The AI area needs more regulation but we need to set standards, not fear
  • Nothing will beat human intelligence, singularity of machines is very far. We still need a human side, testers need to skill up to cope with the changes
  • We shouldn’t feel complacent about the technical advancement in testing. In fact, could do much more to keep up pace with the development side of IT industry

 

Approach with caution: Those who feel nervous about the developments shared some of these thoughts:

  • Around AI there are increasing ethical challenges and potentially dangerous – this topic needs to be approached with caution
  • The danger of machine learning is with wrong learning as it typically happens on a production environment. If testing is not effective during product development, the machine continues to learn the wrong way
  • The scope of testing is expanding enormously – from system testing, integration testing, end-to-end testing now going towards societal level. There needs to be an awareness of the moral aspect and ethical impact, for example any violation of GDPR
  • The risk will be around machines not being testing sufficiently / properly
  • It is exciting but there is a growing skill gap
  • We can go along with the flow but be conscious of the limitations
  • Sceptical about catching up with the changes. There are too many solutions out there – it is a bit overwhelming
  • There could be possible loss of jobs as machine learning progresses swiftly but will the technologies will be as effective as humans?

The conclusion that I would like to draw based on the conversations that is the testing community is hopeful of future and welcoming of the advancement in technology which creates ways to achieve improved efficiency in testing. But there is a hint of caution about possible ‘dragons’ that lie in future which is important to consider too.

With that thought I wish to conclude my duty as a community reporter for EuroSTAR 2018. As the final word I wish to thank all the delegates who agreed to speak to me and share their thoughts. I am very grateful to the EuroSTAR team for this opportunity from which I have got a lot and I wish this conference continuing success in future!

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