There is a section of testing tools that should be addressed but is too varied to fit under one category. Test automation assumes the latest version of the application is installed on the computer or web server. It still needs to be compiled and installed, the automation needs to be started, and someone needs to be informed to check the results. All of these secondary tasks fall into support -- and they can all be automated. Continuous integration tools are support tools that notice a check-in of new code, perform a build, create a new virtual web server (or update a staging server), push the new code to the target machine, run the automation to exercise the program, examine the results, and email relevant team members about failure.
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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