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Why data testing is a Boardroom issue. But all too often is not

  • 15/07/2011
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

So once your products are all they should be, what then? The clue is in the paragraph above, i.e. ‘customers expect’. And boy, don’t they, and if companies lose sight of the need to match good products with even better customer service, they’ll be undone.

And what can possibly help organisations manage the countervailing pull of product, service and innovation? It’s data. Lots of lovely data and the systems they feed. Business systems that oversee sales processes, monitor peaks and troughs, hunt for evidence of trends and manage customer contact strategies that enhance rather than destroy customer relations.

Not hacking customers off is a 21st century requirement, something that United Airlines will be sensitive to after a disastrous day last month. I can’t pretend to know what lay behind the computer system shut down but developers and testers acknowledge that although it takes a huge effort to manually create data to test new functionality, that effort does not result in data that tests all scenarios.

The business case for synthetic data is now clear as it is the only way to create data with a rich enough spread to go beyond examining how data performs in existing systems and scrutinizes how functionality will hold up in the parameters of new.

So, with business systems at the very heart of how companies function and indispensable when determining strategies to maintain growth, why isn’t data testing and development a front-of-mind, non-negotiable, number-one priority?

My view is that even today in the boardroom, the big cheeses don’t get it. Not enough CEOs were CTOs.

Too many ‘C’ level honchos are happy to sketch out what they want to see grafted onto a business but too few appreciate the time it should take to develop systems. With the ‘it should have been done yesterday’ pressures of today’s business environment, time is money but get the planning stage wrong and the costs are almost incalculable.

Few would trust a carpenter to start building a cabinet without plans, and thorough plans at that, so why do businesses tolerate minimal resources for testing?

Soon enough, the use of synthetic data and comprehensive test data management strategies will be the norm. And as an ordinary consumer, it can’t come soon enough.

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