If stepping up is your chosen approach, you will probably need a long education. A master’s degree or a doctorate will serve you well as a job applicant. Once inside an organization, your objective must be to stay broadly informed and creative enough to be part of its ongoing innovation and strategy efforts. Ideally you’ll aspire to a senior management role and thus seize the opportunities you identify. Listen to Barney Harford, the CEO of Orbitz—a business that has done more than most to eliminate knowledge worker jobs. To hire for the tasks he still requires people to do, Harford looks for “T-shaped” individuals. Orbitz needs “people who can go really deep in their particular area of expertise,” he says, “and also go really broad and have that kind of curiosity about the overall organization and how their particular piece of the pie fits into it.” That’s good guidance for any knowledge worker who wants to step up: Start thinking more synthetically—in the old sense of that term. Find ways to rely on machines to do your intellectual spadework, without losing knowledge of how they do it. Harford has done that by applying “machine learning” to the generation of algorithms that match customers with the travel experiences they desire.
Home automation refers to technology installed in homes to remotely control and automate household systems like lighting, doors, heating & air conditioning, entertainment systems, security alarms, surveillance cameras and other connected appliances. The programmable thermostats, sprinkler systems, coffee makers, and entertainment systems that have been standard home features for decades can be considered home automation. But by today’s technological standards, the term home automation typically refers to a more advanced and complex set of components. To learn more about home automation, click here.
When we reviewed the original Wyze Cam, its performance, features, and very affordable price earned it our Editors' Choice award. With its latest iteration, the Wyze Cam V2, the folks at Wyze Labs made some improvements, including motion tracking, enhanced audio capabilities, and a more powerful CMOS sensor. It's still the smallest home security camera we've tested and an incredible bargain at $19.99.
Business process automation (BPA) is the technology-enabled automation of complex business processes. It can help to streamline a business for simplicity, achieve digital transformation, increase service quality, improve service delivery or contain costs. BPA consists of integrating applications, restructuring labor resources and using software applications throughout the organization. Robotic process automation is an emerging field within BPA and uses artificial intelligence. BPAs can be implemented in a number of business areas including marketing, sales and workflow.
Kim Kadiyala, Marketing Specialist at Zapier, says: “We're in an exciting time where business process automation is accessible to everyone — even if you're not technically savvy or a programmer. Tools that connect your apps put the power of automation into the hands of marketers, founders, real estate agents, and lawyers. Anyone who is moving bits of information from one place to another can set up an automation and start saving some time. I like to say that there are some tasks that are better suited for computers and some tasks best done by humans. Automating the tedious parts of your work frees you up to spend more time on the more creative aspects of your job, like big-picture thinking and strategic problem solving.
Alan Page is an author with more than two decades of experience in software testing roles, the majority spent in various roles at Microsoft. He offers another perspective on the importance of distinguishing automated and manual testing. In “The A Word,” an ebook compilation of his blog posts on automation, Page mentions that most of his commentary on automation focuses on the “abuse and misuse” of automation in software testing and development. He is skeptical of replacing manual testing activity with test automation, as you can see from the his Twitter feed:
Jones believes the most common reason for using test automation today is to shorten the regression test cycle. Regression tests are used to determine if changes to the software are the cause of new problems. They verify that a system under test hasn’t changed. To guard against introducing unintended changes, they become part of a regression test suite after the tests pass. Regression tests are automated to ensure regular feedback.
Sid Bala, President and CEO of alligatortek, notes, “For us, a process that used to take up to a week has now been reduced to minutes, meaning that fresh produce gets into the hands of those who need it faster than ever before. In just one year, a national nonprofit connected 128 million pounds of fresh produce to Americans facing hunger — an increase of 9 percent over last year’s produce donation. alligatortek developed the Produce Donor Portal, a cloud-based site that gives a national nonprofit more automation and quicker workflow.”
The example is trivial; of course you'll create a login function that you can reuse. But when we get to the nitty-gritty of the application — creating new data, editing rows and profiles, searching, and so on — it is tempting to just get the code to work. As you add new features, you copy/paste to make a new automated example. Over a period of years, you end up with a lot of copied/pasted code.
“I use Zapier to automate my outreach and collect user stories to feature in blog posts. After compiling a list of users to reach out to in a Google Sheet, I set up an automation between my Google Sheets and my Gmail. Then, every time I update a row in my Google Sheet, the system sends a personalized email to the user using a template I created. The email has a link to a Typeform survey with a couple of questions. After users submit the survey, their answers are automatically routed back to the Google Sheet. With this automation, I can spend more time crafting a piece of content and less time manually compiling the information I collect.”
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The other main characteristic of cutting-edge home automation is remote monitoring and access. While a limited amount of one-way remote monitoring has been possible for some time, it’s only since the rise in smartphones and tablets that we’ve had the ability to truly connect to our home networks while we’re away. With the right home automation system, you can use any Internet-connected device to view and control the system itself and any attached devices.
This article covers the basics of automated software testing and provides a basic introduction to the vast, technical topic: what it is, why it’s necessary for the Agile IT industry, and how to make sense of the technology behind it. Along the way, you’ll find input from professionals in the test community that will help you determine what you need to explore further.
Have you ever bought a product because of the experience even though you could probably get it cheaper somewhere else? Or driven out of your way to go to a store that has a better atmosphere? You’re not alone. In fact, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, no matter the product or service. Creating the best customer experience for every customer is where composers come into play and it’s why it is one of the job categories that will thrive with automation.
An across-the-board complaint about MFP is that it doesn’t calculate net carbs for you, and if you’re paying attention to your sugar alcohols, you have to add them manually. It does calculate your fiber and it’s simple enough to subtract that out. Only you can decide whether or not you’ll get annoyed by having to do the math in your head every day.
In the near future, home automation may be standardized to let us truly take advantage of all of these additional possibilities. For the time being, the home security providers that specialize in home automation have focused on the most critical and useful parts of a connected home. At a basic level, this means the doors and windows and environmental devices (thermostat, smoke detectors, temperature, humidity, fire and carbon dioxide sensors) that keep you safe and comfortable. For additional real-time security, convenience and control, home automation systems from security providers should also include options for video cameras. With the best systems, you’ll also be able to include lights and individual electrical outlets into your home automation package.
Every software development group tests its products, yet delivered software always has defects. Test engineers strive to catch them before the product is released but they always creep in and they often reappear, even with the best manual testing processes. Test Automation software is the best way to increase the effectiveness, efficiency and coverage of your software testing.
The first and most obvious beneficiaries of this approach are “smart” devices and appliances that can be connected to a local area network, via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. However, electrical systems and even individual points, like light switches and electrical outlets, were also integrated into home automation networks, and businesses have even explored the potential of IP-based inventory tracking. Although the day is still far off when you’ll be able to use your mobile browser to track down a lost sock, home networks are capable of including an increasing number of devices and systems.
Opinions vary on the efficacy of SharePoint for BPA. If SharePoint is a historical program for a company, it may be a no-brainer to continue and expand its use. However, many experts claim that SharePoint does not have the real-time collaboration capacity that is necessary for BPA. For more information on SharePoint for document management, see this article. To learn about alternatives to the platform, read these tips.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started the research and development of automated visual surveillance and monitoring (VSAM) program, between 1997 and 1999, and airborne video surveillance (AVS) programs, from 1998 to 2002. Currently, there is a major effort underway in the vision community to develop a fully automated tracking surveillance system. Automated video surveillance monitors people and vehicles in real time within a busy environment. Existing automated surveillance systems are based on the environment they are primarily designed to observe, i.e., indoor, outdoor or airborne, the amount of sensors that the automated system can handle and the mobility of sensor, i.e., stationary camera vs. mobile camera. The purpose of a surveillance system is to record properties and trajectories of objects in a given area, generate warnings or notify designated authority in case of occurrence of particular events.
Testing is a very important phase in the development process. It ensures that all the bugs are ironed out and that the product, software or hardware, is functioning as expected or as close to the target performance as possible. Even so, some tasks are too laborious to be done manually even though they are easy enough to do. This is where automated testing comes in.
Maybe that means buying an additional device from the same brand as your original purchase, but it doesn't have to. In general, smart home manufacturers see the value in keeping things at least somewhat open, and many go out of their way to embrace third-party hubs and smart home platforms as a means of providing compatibility with other gadgets. That means that you've got a lot of options. And, if you're looking for an easy way to stay on top of what works with what, our handy smart home compatibility tracker is here to help.
All that action adds up to a rapidly growing number of things in the internet of things, along with a variety of platforms competing to control them all. That might make the idea of getting your smart home started a little bit overwhelming, but don't worry. It's actually easier than ever to start automating your home -- provided you know your options.
The test automation pyramid, first introduced by Cohn in Succeeding with Agile, shows how you should maximize automation, starting with your unit tests at the lowest level of the pyramid and moving on to service level testing. User interface testing sits at the very top. Unit tests are fast and reliable. The service layer allows for testing business logic at the API or service level, where you're not encumbered by the user interface (UI). The higher the level, the slower and more brittle testing becomes. Finally, while some UI test automation should be done, such tests are slower, more difficult to maintain, and break more easily. Keep those to a minimum.
Another example is automation in human resources (HR). You can automate the recruitment and employee onboarding processes. In many companies, job descriptions and applications are not stored in a central location, while the screening and interviewing process is based on your current employees’ accountability, meaning that the process may be inconsistent and could open up your business to possible hiring bias. Onboarding can also vary among employees.
Many test automation tools provide record and playback features that allow users to interactively record user actions and replay them back any number of times, comparing actual results to those expected. The advantage of this approach is that it requires little or no software development. This approach can be applied to any application that has a graphical user interface. However, reliance on these features poses major reliability and maintainability problems. Relabelling a button or moving it to another part of the window may require the test to be re-recorded. Record and playback also often adds irrelevant activities or incorrectly records some activities.
Clearly this is a realm in which knowledge workers need strong skills in computer science, artificial intelligence, and analytics. In his book Data-ism, Steve Lohr offers stories of some of the people doing this work. For example, at the E. & J. Gallo Winery, an executive named Nick Dokoozlian teams up with Hendrik Hamann, a member of IBM’s research staff, to find a way to harness the data required for “precision agriculture” at scale. In other words, they want to automate the painstaking craft of giving each grapevine exactly the care and feeding it needs to thrive. This isn’t amateur hour. Hamann is a physicist with a thorough knowledge of IBM’s prior application of networked sensors. Dokoozlian earned his doctorate in plant physiology at what Lohr informs us is the MIT of wine science—the University of California at Davis—and then taught there for 15 years. We’re tempted to say that this team knows wine the way some French people know paper.
The legendary thoroughbred trainer D. Wayne Lukas can’t articulate exactly how he manages to see the potential in a yearling. He just does. Apple’s revered designer Jonathan Ive can’t download his taste to a computer. Ricky Gervais makes people laugh at material a machine would never dream up. Do they all use computers in their daily work lives? Unquestionably. But their genius has been to discover the ineffable strengths they possess and to spend as much time as possible putting them to work. Machines can perform numerous ancillary tasks that would otherwise encroach on the ability of these professionals to do what they do best.
During a recent consulting assignment, a tester told me he spent 90 percent of his time setting up test conditions. The application allowed colleges and other large organizations to configure their workflow for payment processing. One school might set up self-service kiosks, while another might have a cash window where the teller could only authorize up to a certain dollar amount. Still others might require a manager to cancel or approve a transaction over a certain dollar amount. Some schools took certain credit cards, while others accepted cash only. To reproduce any of these conditions, the tester had to log in, create a workflow manually, and establish a set of users with the right permissions before finally doing the testing. When we talked about automation approaches, our initial conversation was about tools to drive the user interface. For example, a batch script like this:
BPA is designed to maintain efficiency and increase the stability and operational productivity of an underutilized workforce by integrating business critical software applications. BPA works by analyzing critical and non-critical business processes and their relationship and dependency on other business processes and external partners, in addition to developing or sourcing automated software and computing processes.
Let’s assume that computers are going to make their mark in your line of work. Indeed, let’s posit that software will soon perform most of the cognitive heavy lifting you do in your job and, as far as the essential day-to-day operation of the enterprise is concerned, make decisions as good as (probably better than) those made by 90% of the people who currently hold it. What should your strategy be to remain gainfully employed? From an augmentation perspective, people might renegotiate their relationship to machines and realign their contributions in five ways.
“In the future, BPA will allow organizations to define their own processes and process flow. It will endow employees with the ability to have a single sign-on to a complete solution, providing the unprecedented access that people want. Adopting business process automation will remove the guesswork of delegation and responsibility almost completely in that everyone’s direct responsibilities will be clearly defined and integrated within the platform.”
Automated software testing is becoming more and more important for many software projects in order to automatically verify key functionality, test for regressions and help teams run a large number of tests in a short period of time. Many teams (especially larger projects) still require a significant amount of manual functional testing in addition to automated testing, either because of the lack of sufficient resources or skills to automate all tests.
To effectively manage RPA, companies should involve IT early and often, designating an IT RPA expert who can help you manage the volume of data you decide to collect. You should also have an RPA project manager who provides structure to the implementation. In businesses with compliance requirements, controlling the project rollout will maintain good governance. Other experts suggest building an RPA center of excellence that gives your personnel the resources they need when they have questions and issues for a more manageable impact on your employees.