Integration Testing and Technology Convergence

I have grown to like my Android smartphone quite a lot. It’s about a year old now, but I’ve had a few smartphones over the last couple of years. This one, however, is the first where I feel it is making my life slightly better. The thing I really like is that it has ‘everything’ inside it, and that it all works reasonably well: In addition to being a phone and a communication device, it’s a torch, a camera, a map, a calculator, a travel booking service, a map, and it allows me to stay in touch with my good friends no matter where I am.

All my previous Android and Windows CE based smartphones sucked with everything they did, except texting, calling and playing the odd game.

Convergence is changing the way we use and perceive technology: Where the selling points of a product used to describe the product itself (e.g. megapixels in a camera), features which allow products to integrate with each other are becoming more important to customers (e.g. wifi in a camera). This is because customers have observed how these ‘meta-features’ make things smarter and allow us greater flexibility of how we use the products.

I’ve been working as a tester on busines systems for the past 10 years, and I’ve observed a similar trend: Testing is transitioning from having a product focus into having an integration focus. So the changes that we’re seeing due to technology convergence in consumer electronics, seems to be happening broadly in IT.

Integration testing is playing a much more prominent role in software projects today than it was just a few years ago. Where integration testing used to be regarded as a ‘phase’ in large scale projects, we are now more and more carrying out integration testing on a continous basis throughout projects. I’ve seen this change in the projects I’ve been working on, and I have had it described to me by firneds and colleagues.

Project managers seem to have realised that system integrations are just too critical to postpone testing until the last days of a project or project cycle.

Niels Bohr said: ”It’s difficult to make predicitions – especially about the future” I’ll try anyway: I think we’re at the beginning of a development which might completely be changing the nature of testing: In the future, software testing will be predominantly focused on interoperability, system integration, robustness and other factors buried in the structure of the products we’re testing. Functionality will be much less important.