Thomas H. Davenport is the President’s Distinguished Professor in Management and Information Technology at Babson College, a research fellow at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, and a senior adviser at Deloitte Analytics. Author of over a dozen management books, his latest is Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines.
Regardless of the good intent and benefits of automation, there will be cases where automation is not appropriate, and the human touch and analysis are needed. For example, customers appreciate being able to automatically book a hotel or travel accommodations without waiting to speak to agents. It becomes irritating, however, when calling travel companies and figuring out what option on the phone tree will take them where they need. Further, it can be infuriating when a call is dropped or hung up, especially if they are having problems on the trip.
For another perspective on open source test automation tools, consider this list by test automation guru Joe Colantonio (@jcolantonio). He covers the 10 most popular software testing tools available on GitHub. Tools covered include EarlGrey, WebDriverIO, Robot Framework, Macaca, Detox, UI AutoMonkey, Gauge, Hound, OWTF, and FluentLenium [Read this software testing tools list]
Amazon is testing delivery drones that pick up warehouse orders sorted by robots, Google is testing self-driving cars, Starbucks is testing cashier-free stores dedicated to mobile ordering and payment, and Facebook is testing a brain-computer interface that may one day translate thoughts into digital text. There are mundane versions of automation technology behind all of this testing — software automation testing. Companies use automation technology to create the software responsible for the products and services causing all the hype.
Summary: A desktop tool for load, stress and scalability testing that works with both HTML sites and rich internet applications. SmartBear LoadComplete can generate load from virtual machines, on premise computers or the cloud and offers record and replay capabilities, visual programming, a test cost simulator, distributed load testing, analytics and functional test reuse.
The market for smart lighting, in particular, is expected to grow the fastest. One of the reasons that people continue to embrace smart home technology in their lives is because companies are taking the initiative to educate their customers about what options are available. The benefits that home automation can offer are incredible and the potential value these systems could add to homes is unparalleled.
Developers can use unit test frameworks such as xUnit or Microsoft's Visual Studio Unit Testing Framework to create automated tests for small units of code. Some agile teams use test-driven development, a technique in which you write the unit test before the code to help drive code design. Some developers write the code first, but don't consider the code complete until they've developed an associated automated unit test. You can assess whether each code path has been tested with test a coverage tool such as DotCover.
“Many companies are also using zonal OCR and barcode scanning to automate document filing. Zonal OCR lets the user set a predefined area from which information is automatically captured, indexed, and added to a specific database. Many companies employ Zonal OCR on their purchase orders so that scanning the document will transfer the invoice number and shipping and billing information directly to a database. Adding barcode recognition to a document automates the filing process by telling the computer where and how to file a document and its content. These capabilities help these large, established companies compete today.”
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.
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.
Over the past year few years, we’ve heard about robots coming for our jobs. Each time a self-checkout lane opens at the nearest grocery store, some start to panic. And although we’ve already had a glimpse into how automation is going to be beneficial to us all, it isn’t completely met with open arms. Still, I think there are a few job categories, or perhaps better defined, "Career Personas," that will thrive with automation.
Unified Functional Testing (UFT) is a well-known commercial testing tool for functional testing. It provides a comprehensive feature set for API, web services, and GUI testing of desktop, web, and mobile applications across platforms. The tool has advanced image-based object recognition feature, reusable test components, and automated documentation.
However, actually building automated tests for web applications can be challenging because the user interface of your application might change regularly, because of incompatibilities between browsers and because you usually need to support various server or client platforms. The following tools make it easier to build and execute automated tests for your web application.
The second area, application coverage, looks at the test process from other directions -- typically, the percentage of the requirements that are "covered." One common application coverage tool is a traceability matrix -- a list of which tests cover which requirements. Typically, test case management software records all the planned tests and allows testers to mark that a test case "ran" for any given release, which allows management to determine what percentage of tests were "covered." This is a sort of "quality assurance" look at the test process, which should ensure that each part of the application is covered, along with a management control.
“The most important thing to consider is the problem you are trying to solve. Many test automation initiatives fail because teams are trying to jump in head first and automate every test possible instead of the most valuable tests according to the goals of development. They find themselves in a maintenance nightmare. Pick the most valuable test you were already performing manually and automate those first.”
Today extensive automation is practiced in practically every type of manufacturing and assembly process. Some of the larger processes include electrical power generation, oil refining, chemicals, steel mills, plastics, cement plants, fertilizer plants, pulp and paper mills, automobile and truck assembly, aircraft production, glass manufacturing, natural gas separation plants, food and beverage processing, canning and bottling and manufacture of various kinds of parts. Robots are especially useful in hazardous applications like automobile spray painting. Robots are also used to assemble electronic circuit boards. Automotive welding is done with robots and automatic welders are used in applications like pipelines.
Z-Wave and Zigbee are the two most popular wireless technologies, using RF to communicate between devices. These technologies are licensed out, meaning any number of companies can create their own products using Z-Wave and Zigbee technology. As a result (for the most part) all Z-Wave devices can work with each and all Zigbee devices can work together - regardless of brand. A Hub, or other Z-Wave interfaces will be required for smartphone control or voice control of Z-Wave products.
You can also find ways of experimenting with home automation that don't cost anything at all. Many smart devices offer demo modes within their apps that'll let you get the gist of things before you buy anything. Taking things for a test-drive can help you decide whether or not the product fits your needs, and it might also inspire a few new ideas for how you can put it to use.
“We have introduced the Plustek eScan stand-alone scanning kiosk to several companies where people need to quickly convert paper documents into digital ones. This scanner allows them to log in and send the information to preset locations at the touch of a button. This not only saves a ton of time, but also provides the ultimate secure solution because the user cannot send the files to another location, either intentionally or by accident.
“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.”
Integration Automation: More complex than process automation, integration automation enables machines to observe the way that humans perform tasks and repeat those actions. Humans must define the rules, however. For example, you could integrate your BPM software and customer support software. This could give you results from a customer support checklist processed for each customer complaint and assign personnel when needed.