The Best Test Data Management Practices in an Increasingly Digital World

A quick scan of the application landscape shows that customers are more empowered, digitally savvy, and eager to have superior experiences faster. To achieve and maintain leadership in this landscape, organizations need to update applications constantly and at speed. This is why dependency on agile, DevOps, and CI/CD technologies has increased tremendously, further translating to an exponential increase in the adoption of test data management initiatives. CI/CD pipelines benefit from the fact that any new code that is developed is automatically integrated into the main application and tested continuously. Automated tests are critical to success, and agility is lost when test data delivery does not match code development and integration velocity.

Why Test Data Management?

Industry data shows that up to 60% of development and testing time is consumed by data-related activities, with a significant portion dedicated to testing data management. This amply validates that the global test data management market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5% over the forecast period 2020-2025, according to the ResearchandMarkets TDM report.

Best Practices for Test Data Management

Any organization focusing on making its test data management discipline stronger and capable of supporting the new age digital delivery landscape needs to focus on the following three cornerstones.

Applicability:
The principle of shift left mandates that each phase in an SDLC has a tight feedback loop that ensures defects don’t move down the development/deployment pipeline, making it less costly for errors to be detected and rectified. Its success hinges to a large extent on close mapping of test data to the production environment. Replicating or cloning production data is manually intensive, and as the World Quality Report 2020-21 shows, 79% of respondents create test data manually with each run. Scripts and automation tools can take up most heavy lifting and bring this down to a large extent when done well. With production quality data being very close to reality, defect leakage is reduced vastly, ultimately translating to a significant reduction in defect triage cost at later stages of development/deployment.

However, using production-quality data at all times may not be possible, especially in the case of applications that are only a prototype or built from scratch. Additionally, using a complete copy of the production database is time and effort-intensive – instead, it is worthwhile to identify relevant subsets for testing. A strategy that brings together the right mix of product quality data and synthetic data closely aligned to production data models is the best bet. While production data maps to narrower testing outcomes in realistic environments, synthetic data is much broader and enables you to simulate environments beyond the ambit of production data. Usage of test data automation platforms that allocates apt dataset combinations for tests can bring further stability to testing.

Tight coupling with production data is also complicated by a host of data privacy laws like GDPR, CCPA, CPPA, etc., that mandate protecting customer-sensitive information. Anonymizing data or obfuscating data to remove sensitive information is an approach that is followed to circumvent this issue. Usually, non-production environments are less secure, and data masking for protecting PII information becomes paramount.

Accuracy:
Accuracy is critical in today’s digital transformation-led SDLC, where app updates are being launched to market faster and need to be as error-free as possible, a nearly impossible feat without accurate test data. The technology landscape is also more complex and integrated like never before, percolating the complexity of data model relationships and the environments in which they are used. The need is to maintain a single source of data truth. Many organizations adopt the path of creating a gold master for data and then make data subsets based on the need of the application. Adopting tools that validate and update data automatically during each test run further ensures the accuracy of the master data.

Accuracy also entails ensuring the relevance of data in the context of the application being tested. Decade-old data formats might be applicable in the context of an insurance application that needs historic policy data formats. However, demographic data or data related to customer purchasing behavior applicable in a retail application context is highly dynamic. The centralized data governance structure addresses this issue, at times sunsetting the data that has served its purpose, preventing any unintended usage. This also reduces maintenance costs for archiving large amounts of test data.

Also important is a proper data governance mechanism that provides the right provisioning capability and ownership driven at a central level, thereby helping teams use a single data truth for testing. Adopting similar provisioning techniques can further remove any cross-team constraints and ensure accurate data is available on demand.

Availability:
The rapid adoption of digital platforms and application movement into cloud environments have been driving exponential growth in user-generated data and cloud data traffic. The pandemic has accelerated this trend by moving the majority of application usage online. ResearchandMarkets report states that for every terabyte of data growth in production, ten terabytes are used for development, testing, and other non-production use cases, thereby driving up costs. Given this magnitude of test data usage, it is essential to align data availability with the release schedules of the application so that testers don’t need to spend a lot of time tweaking data for every code release.

The other most crucial thing in ensuring data availability is to manage version control of the data, helping to overcome the confusion caused by conflicting and multiple versioned local databases/datasets. The centrally managed test data team will help ensure single data truth and provide subsets of data as applicable to various subsystems or based on the need of the application under test. The central data repository also needs to be an ever-changing, learning one since the APIs and interfaces of the application keeps evolving, driving the need for updating test data consistently. After every test, the quality of data can be evaluated and updated in the central repository making it more accurate. This further drives reusability of data across a plethora of similar test scenarios.

The importance of choosing the right test data management tools

In DevOps and CI/CD environments, accurate test data at high velocity is an additional critical dimension in ensuring continuous integration and deployment. Choosing the right test data management framework and tool suite helps automate various stages in making data test ready through data generation, masking, scripting, provisioning, and cloning. World quality report 2020-21 indicates that the adoption of cloud and tool stacks for TDM has witnessed an increase, but there is a need for more maturity to make effective use.

In summary, for test data management, like many other disciplines, there is no one size fits all approach. An optimum mix of production mapped data, and synthetic data, created and housed in a repository managed at a central level is an excellent way to go. However, this approach, primarily while focusing on synthetic data generation, comes with its own set of challenges, including the need to have strong domain and database expertise. Organizations have also been taking TDM to the next level by deploying AI and ML techniques, which scan through data sets at the central repository and suggest the most practical applications for a particular application under test.

Need help? Partner with experts from Trigent to get a customized test data management solution and be a leader in the new-age digital delivery landscape.

Apple’s ARKit: Unique features delivering an immersive experience

Augmented Reality (AR) has emerged as a new communication medium that provides a wide range of processing devices’ motion tracking capabilities. In this article, we will discuss Apple’s iOS ARKit platform’s unique features that enable an immersive experience for users.

Features of iOS ARKit

AR isn’t only the joining of computer data with human detects. It is a lot more, thanks to the below-listed features:

  • Location property for creating and updating at specific points on the map
  • 3D views of amenities with AR with real-time 3D portraying, adding all the animation and textures
  • Optical or Video technologies are used to accomplish the way of augmentation.
  • Depth camera for a secure facial recognition system. Face ID will open 30% quicker, and those applications will dispatch twice as quickly in iOS 13.
  • Motion capture: moving moments of things by applying a similar body development to a virtual character.
  • AR is experienced in real-time conjoint, not pre-recorded. Data analyses, join a genuine activity with computer designs don’t consider AR. Therefore, amalgamating real and virtual.
  • Gauge lighting to help progress among Virtual and Real Worlds
  • ARKit produces information in meter scale, 3D virtual item anytime will be secured to that point in 3D space.
  • Augment Reality application improvement will encounter a total change with ARKit and recent iOS development highlights.

A little more about AR and the ARKit

The concept of AR dates back to 1950, while the term was coined in 1990 by Boeing researcher Tim Caudell. AR’s ability to recreate human sensory fuelled its increased usage in many applications.

After the launch of Google Glass, tech titans like Microsoft, Niantic, Sony, and Apple took up the initiative to leverage AR in new ways. Apple’s ARKit harnesses its library to offer features like collaborative sessions, mapping of physical 3D space, multiple face tracking, stable motion tracking, etc.

Now is the time to build a digitally driven experiential future with this booming platform of ARKit. Let’s join hands to inspire creative thinking that fuels tomorrow’s innovations.

AR has demonstrated a clear return on investment while offering businesses the means and ways to connect and converse with their customers. At Trigent, we help you create immersive experiences that are intuitive and data-rich while putting your customer needs at the core of every initiative. It’s time you embraced the many possibilities AR has to offer to unlock moments of delight for your customers. Allow us to help you push the standards a little higher.

Call us today for a consultation.


Technology Trends That Will Reshape Retail in 2021

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2020 pivoted the world to everything digital. Everything-from-home became the new norm, and we reimagined new ways to function this year. It was no different for shopping – eCommerce came to everybody’s rescue. Although online shopping is not new, it took center stage. Consumer-facing technology saved the day, and digital payments, telehealth, cloud-native apps, etc., are now mainstream in the AI-driven world.

Adobe recently revealed comprehensive insights on consumer spending and eCommerce based on some of the top retailers’ eCommerce transactions in real-time. The Black Friday sales figures touched a whopping $9.0 billion, a record high indicating an increase of 21.6% compared to last year. Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights, stated, “We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices, and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that are usually purchased in-store.”

Digital penetration is now irreversible and will continue to navigate retail trends through 2021 and beyond. Here’s a quick lowdown on technology trends that will reshape retail in 2021.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will ensure an immersive consumer experience

Retailers leverage augmented reality to shift the focus from features and benefits to an immersive retail experience enabling young and restless millennials to choose better. While apparel companies went all out with their AR fitting rooms to help choose according to body type, beauty technology leader Sephora came up with magic mirrors in stores and mobile apps to enable consumers to see how the myriad make-up treatments and colors looked on them.

On the other hand, IKEA allowed consumers to place catalog items at scale in their homes to make better buying decisions. In a technology-driven world, the augmented reality and virtual reality market are predicted to touch 16.1 billion by 2025 globally, underlining a 48.8% CAGR for the forecast period 2020-2025.

Having tasted a shift in consumer behaviors, One Aldwych Hotel in London, in collaboration with Dalmore Whisky, treated their consumers to a distillery experience with VR. They offered a VR whisky cocktail that allowed them to visit the distillery, albeit virtually to see the barrels and the water and the fields that went into its making. To ensure deeper engagement and take out the loneliness from virtual shopping, brands now allow you to co-shop with your friends by helping consumers share product views and experiences. Popular brand Lego has created digital shopping assistants to make the whole experience a lot more exciting. These assistants even make personalized gift recommendations to take the digital shopping experience a notch higher.

After launching its Shopify AR to help businesses curate more immersive shopping experiences, Shopify also confirmed that interactions with products having 3D/A.R. content have a 94% higher conversion rate compared to those without it.

Retailers are also becoming more experiential, indulging in what we call ‘retailtainment’ where experience becomes immersive and memorable. For instance, Marvel invited fans into their cinematic world through interactive displays and real-life movie props at their touring Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

Virtual Assistants for 24×7 Customer Service

Retailers are leveraging chatbots and virtual assistants to interact with their consumers while robots lurk outside warehouses to manage inventory. AI-powered voice recognition technology is also playing a significant role in adding value to the whole shopping experience.

Retailers are also deploying mobile CRM to engage consumers with offers, discounts, reward points, loyalty programs, style alerts, etc. According to Forrester statistics, 50% of teams saw an increase in productivity after using mobile CRM. An IDC study predicts AI-powered CRM activities could increase global business revenues by $1.1 trillion by 2021, drawing attention to the extensive role AI plays in driving customer conversations and influencing customer behavior.

Hybrid Apps enable retailers to reach a wider audience, grow the market

As consumers continue to rely on smartphones for all their needs, hybrid apps play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between brands and consumers. They are pocket-friendly and work exceedingly well for small businesses too. Brands are now relying on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to engage with customers.

Hybrid apps have caught the fancy of retailers because they are a multi-platform app development option, unlike native, that focus on a single platform. Hybrid apps have a single code that applies to both Android and iOS, saving developers valuable time. Besides, it is also advantageous as developers can maintain, update, and upgrade by making changes in just one set of code instead of multiple code sets, delivering an at par customer experience across platforms.

Social Commerce and influencer marketing will enhance reach and value

A recent survey revealed 41% of respondents admitted to shopping online for stuff they would normally buy in stores. The recent introduction of Facebook shops is a classic example of the growing popularity of social commerce in the personalized shopping arena in the digital world. Social commerce is now becoming an integral part of ecommerce and is clearly here to stay.

With social commerce on the rise, the influencer game is stronger than ever. It has now transitioned from selfies and clever photo edits to unique influencer video content that connects, educates, and entertains. IGTV, Instagram Reels, and Instagram Live are all playing a major role in helping brands build solid digital communities through shared interests. Fitness experts for instance conduct live workout sessions on Instagram Live and then publish the same on IGTV for those who couldn’t tune into livestream.

Contactless is the buzzword now

A safe, seamless, frictionless experience is what we need. Contactless payments, contactless delivery and pickup, seamless checkouts, 1:1 in-store appointments, contactless checkout and delivery, and click-and-collect services are all crucial steps in that direction. Also, the fear of contamination has encouraged retailers to deploy drone technology to ensure the fastest delivery. Retailers are working in tandem with fintech companies to build better transactional models for quick, contactless payments.

Contactless mobile payments are in high demand, especially in this period of crisis. Consumers carrying their cards tend to spend more than those with cash in their wallets that often limit their purchasing power. Contactless payments are not just a fad but have greater staying power for the sheer speed, security, and convenience they offer. Those who have failed to adopt them have lost business. As per the 2020 Holiday Spending Insights Report by NMI, 43% of consumers avoided retailers that did not offer contactless payments. Tap-to-pay cards are popular, so are mobile wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Make your retail business future-ready with Trigent

The retail environment is changing at a rapid pace. Clearly, brands are going out of the way to redefine the possible and are winning the game in the midst of the pandemic. It is important to go omnichannel to provide best-in-class experiences to consumers across touchpoints because the online and offline worlds converge.

Serve your customers efficiently by accelerating the adoption of the latest developments in technology. Capitalize on Trigent’s market experience to incorporate the best practices and implement solutions right the first time. With its comprehensive suite of IT Services offerings, Trigent is your go-to partner for all your IT digital evolution requirements.

Contact our Solutions Specialists today. Request a demo now.

Improve the quality of digital experiences with Performance Engineering

Quality at the heart of business performance

“In 2020, the key expectation is fast, reliable, and trustworthy software.” *

As businesses embrace the Agile/DevOps culture and the emphasis on CI/CD is growing, quality assurance is seen as a standalone task, limited to validating functionalities implemented. When QA and Testing is an afterthought in an Agile/DevOps culture, the result is a subpar consumer experience followed by an adverse impact on the revenue pipeline. Poor customer experience also directly impacts brand credibility and business equity. While UI/UX are the visible elements of the customer experience, product, or service performance is a critical element that is often neglected. Performance Testing identifies the gaps that are addressed through Performance Engineering.

Small steps, significant gains – the journey towards Performance Engineering

The deeper issue lies in the organization’s approach towards quality and testing – it is considered an independent phase rather than looked upon as a collaborative and an integrated approach. Performance engineering is a set of methodologies that identifies potential risks and bottlenecks early on in the development stage of the product and addresses them. It goes without saying that performance is an essential ingredient in the quality of the product, there’s a deeper need for change in thinking – to think proactively, anticipate early in the development cycle, test and deliver a quality experience to the end consumer. An organization that makes gradual changes in its journey towards performance engineering stands to gain significantly. The leadership team, the product management, and the engineering and DevOps at different levels need to take the shift-left approach towards performance engineering.

Make Performance Engineering your strategic priority today

Despite the obvious advantages, performance testing is typically a reactive measure that is addressed after the initial launch. However, organizations need to embrace performance engineering measures right from the design phase, start small, and take incremental steps towards change.

Covid-19 has rapidly changed the way consumers behave globally. Businesses caught onto remote working; consumers moved shopping, entertainment, banking, learning, and medical consultations online. Consider the quantum jump in usage triggered by the pandemic.

The dramatic increase in the use of digital services has covered decades in days.**

Companies that adopted scalability and performance centric design have moved swiftly to capture the market opportunity.

With multiple user-interfaces across sectors being the norm and the increasing complexity of digital experiences, it is critical for businesses to get it right the first time in order to gain and retain customers’ trust.

As cloud migrations continue, whether rehosting the app on an IaaS or rebuilding a new approach, performance engineering ensures that migrated systems withstand sudden surges in usage. According to a Sogeti and Neotys report, 74% of the load testing infrastructure is operated in the cloud today. Cloud infrastructure providers ensure reliability but they may not be aware of the performance metrics that matter to the business and their impact. As organizations move from monolithic systems to distributed architectures provided by an assortment of companies, corporate leaders need to recognize the importance of performance engineering and embrace it to deliver the right solutions for the first time.

Our approach to Performance Engineering philosophy

At Trigent, we put the customer experience at the heart of planning the entire testing cycle. Our performance engineering practices align with ‘metrics that matter’ to businesses in the DevOps framework. While testing identifies the gaps in performance, the onus of architecting it right lies on the DevOps engineering team with proactive inputs from QA and Testing.

Performance engineering is also a way of thinking, the ability to plan for performance at the time of design, right at the beginning. As for quality, besides testing for functionality, anticipating potential bottlenecks helps us assess the process in its entirety in the beginning.

Asking some of these customer-centric questions early on shifts the perspective right at the outset. Ask them early, and you’re on your way to a performance engineering culture.

Parameters that matter

‘Will my application meet the defined response-time requirements of my customers?’

Consider an app that doesn’t respond within the expected standards of the customer; the chances of that application making it to the customer’s phone screen is pretty slim.

‘Will the application handle the expected user load and beyond?’

An application that tested well with 10 users may fail when that number is multiplied by a thousand or two.

We take the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders, consider parameters that matter to the customer, and assess impact early on.

Customer experience matters

Performance Engineering takes into account the overall experience of the end-user and their environment.

Asking pertinent questions such as ‘Will my users experience acceptable response times, even during peak hours?’ or ‘Does the application respond quickly enough for the intended users?’ does well to anticipate potential pitfalls in network usage and latency.

‘Where are the bottlenecks in my multi-user environment?’

Understand the real environment of the user and their challenges to provide a quality user experience.

Early Focus

The non-functional aspects are integrated into the DevOps and an early focus on performance enables us to gain insights into architectural issues.

‘How can we optimize the multi-user application before it goes live?
‘How can we detect errors that only occur under real-load conditions?

Quick course corrections help optimize performance and make the product market-ready. Besides faster deployment, quality assurance gives our clients an added advantage of reduced performance costs.

Architect it right

‘What system capacity is required to handle the expected load?’
‘Will the application handle the number of transactions required by the business?’

Important questions like these focus on architecting the product for performance. As part of the performance engineering methodology, our teams consistently check and validate the capabilities at the time of developing the product or scaling it up. We take the shift-left and shift-right approach to anticipate, identify, and remove bottlenecks early on. Getting the architecture right enables us to deliver and deploy a high-quality product every time.

Performance engineering done right is sure to improve the planning-to-deployment time with high-quality products. Plus, it reduces performance costs arising out of unforeseen issues. A step-by-step approach in testing makes sure organizations move towards achieving performance engineering. Talk to our experts for scalable performance engineering solutions for your business.

Learn more about Trigent software testing services.


Reference:
* The State of Performance Engineering 2020 – A Sogeti and Neotys report
** Meet the next-normal consumer – A McKinsey & Company report