#Asia In the era of gig and sharing economies, software development stands to gain from crowdsourced testing

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With the rise of crowdsourcing, startups and software developers can also crowdsource their quality testing in order to reach a wider variety of devices and situations

Businesses today are operating in an increasingly digital and mobile-centric world. Global internet penetration is now at 50 per cent, up 10 per cent from 2016, along with simultaneous growth in the ownership of smartphones. In fact, more people have access to the internet than to a toilet!

With consumers increasingly going mobile-first, it is hard for businesses to ignore the need for applications and software that work effectively both offline and online. The rapid digitalisation of enterprise operations has likewise spawned an ecosystem of remote and flexible working model through the gig economy. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20 per cent of all enterprise application development will be conducted remotely.

A natural response to this is the rise of crowd testing or crowdsourced testing. Crowd testing basically connects testers from around the world to testing projects, by way of delegating necessary tasks to a community of testers on a secure cloud-based platform. Such a model maximises efficiency by tapping into a large pool of qualified testers to ensure high quality software.

Also read: Outsourcing software development can help accelerate product growth, but effective collaboration is necessary

Banks and telecommunications service providers, for example, are constantly under pressure to develop high quality, stable and optimised software or applications to reduce the risks of downtime. Crowd testing is the epitome of digitalisation in the gig economy, offering such businesses real benefits. Think of crowd testing as Uber for IT testing.

Reap the advantages of crowd testing

The appeal of crowd testing lies in its ability to replicate real-life conditions the application or software may be subjected to, with the testing conducted by real users in a virtual set-up – such as their homes or offices – using real devices, to yield nuanced results each time. For instance, a software that enables users to remotely control their television could be tested by testers on televisions at home using an Android and/or iOS mobile phone to change the volume, channel, switch on and off the television.

Businesses that are inclined to carry out traditional testing might not be able to fully replicate the varying and diverse conditions that the application or software may be subjected to during actual usage. Crowd testing addresses this limitation by tapping on a large community of testers from different places, using different technologies, operating in a variety of real-life environments.

By leveraging a pool of qualified testers with extensive training, domain specific knowledge and relevant experience, businesses are also guaranteed more reliable and accurate testing results. Engaging testers with domain specific knowledge also allows for domain specific tests to be undertaken. Furthermore, the crowd testers provide an external perspective, free of any organisational bias as the testers come from various backgrounds.

Quick turnaround time is another benefit. As the community of testers is spread across geographies and different time zones, the testing process happens round-the-clock with multiple testers working on a test-case simultaneously. This translates into a shorter testing process, allowing results to be delivered as soon as the next day, allowing businesses to go to market with their applications or software quicker.

What differentiates the crowd testing model is also the power of numbers. Thousands of dedicated skilled and vetted testers are within reach within minutes through crowd testing platforms; testing on a truly massive scale in a short time is now possible. Businesses can achieve higher testing precision, do away with in-house testing team to reduce staffing costs. This allows fixed cost savings to be reallocated to the development of applications or software, driving a higher return on investment (ROI).

Secure the process

Security is a common concern businesses have regarding crowd testing, but there are ways to mitigate risks. Ensuring a fully secured cloud-based sandbox for crowd testing is one way. This refers to a virtual space to test software or code securely.

Also read: Building community is essential to a successful crowdfunded campaign; Here is how we raised US$100K in under 5 days

Another measure is the use of a crowd testing platform which puts its pool of testers through stringent tests and background checks. The testers are vetted, evaluated and certified to ensure safety and integrity of the testing process.

Distributed workloads — the future of software development

In the era of sharing and gig economy, many businesses are looking for alternative services that make it easier for networks of people and organisations to transact directly. Middleman services are increasingly getting squeezed out. Software testing is no exception. With more testing professionals participating in the gig economy, there is now a larger talent pool for businesses to tap into for testing needs.

The evolution of crowd testing does not end here. Imagine how advanced technology — artificial intelligence and machine learning can potentially shape the future of crowd testing. Businesses will be able to streamline processes and boost efficiency by reducing the manpower required for many activities. While these technologies are still in their infancy, their potential could soon be maximised with the intervention of human expertise.

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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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