A performance tool will set a start time and a stop time for a given transaction in order to measure the response time. But by taking that measurement, that is storing the time at those two points, could actually make the whole transaction take slightly longer than it would do if the tool was not measuring the response time. Of course, the extra time is very small, but it is still there. This effect is called the ‘probe effect’.
The economic anxiety over AI and automation is real and shouldn’t be dismissed. But there is no reversing technological progress. We will need the economic boost from these technologies to improve the lackluster productivity growth that is threatening many people’s financial prospects. Furthermore, the progress AI promises in medicine and other areas could greatly improve how we live. Yet if we fail to use the technology in a way that benefits as many people as possible (see “Who Will Own the Robots?”), we risk fueling public resentment of automation and its creators. The danger is not so much a direct political backlash—though the history of the Luddites suggests it could happen—but, rather, a failure to embrace and invest in the technology’s abundant possibilities.
We propose a change in mindset, on the part of both workers and providers of work, that will lead to different outcomes—a change from pursuing automation to promoting augmentation. This seemingly simple terminological shift will have deep implications for how organizations are managed and how individuals strive to succeed. Knowledge workers will come to see smart machines as partners and collaborators in creative problem solving.
Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
Jim Hazen is an Automation Consultant and “veteran of the software testing trenches” who helps companies with test automation and performance test implementations. He has presented at multiple professional conferences, including STARWest and STPCon, and published articles in ST&QA Magazine on test automation and communication techniques for testers. You can learn more about Jim on LinkedIn.

BPAs can be implemented in a number of business areas including marketing, sales and workflow. Toolsets vary in sophistication, but there is an increasing trend towards the use of artificial intelligence technologies that can understand natural language and unstructured data sets, interact with human beings, and adapt to new types of problems without human-guided training. BPA providers tend to focus on different industry sectors but their underlying approach tends to be similar in that they will attempt to provide the shortest route to automation by exploiting the user interface layer rather than going deeply into the application code or databases sitting behind them. They also simplify their own interface to the extent that these tools can be used directly by non-technically qualified staff. The main advantage of these toolsets is therefore their speed of deployment, the drawback is that it brings yet another IT supplier to the organization.
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