Will Test Automation lead to job losses?
by Manish Gupta, CEO TestingXperts
As we stand on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution in the modern history of mankind, a philosophical question comes to everyone’s mind, what will happen to jobs in the new age of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Automation and the Internet of Things?
I recently visited the booth of one of the largest companies in the Robotics space at a leading Industry Conference where they had a working prototype of a robot doing the work of an airline check-in agent. This got me thinking about the employability of humans in the future. Will machines and robots be able to do most of the tasks which humans do today? And specifically with respect to the software testing industry, what impact will test automation have on testing jobs?
Will people lose jobs? Maybe. Is it all doom and gloom? No.
While Test automation results in fewer people doing manual testing, it is creating jobs which are better, more productive and more rewarding for testers. In today’s agile world, ‘testing has become development’ and is so integrated into the development lifecycle that it requires higher levels of technical skill, including expert programming knowledge. The trend is to move from large testing teams to small high performance and highly efficient agile teams working collaboratively. This has led to a tremendous shift in a testers’ role and in the way quality assurance happens during projects. From being a reactive mechanism to identify problems in software developed, QA has already turned into a proactive measure to ensure the high quality of software. Furthermore, the focus of QA will be on ensuring business outcomes which will directly improve the quality of services and products delivered to the end consumers and ensure a better world for everyone.
So, today’s manual testing jobs will move to more high-skill roles where the testers will contribute to automation and overall product quality by moving up the value chain. This will result in higher work satisfaction and better salaries leading to a better quality of life.
Growth in Digital Technologies and devices
On top of this, the growth of digital technologies and software has been unprecedented and there are newer, more complex software applications being built each day. With evolution of the Internet of Things, maturing digital technologies, adoption of internet at mass scale, complex integrations and humongous amount of data, we will see increasing demand for software testing to ensure a faster time to market and high performing, scalable secure software applications. Data is the new oil in the fourth industrial revolution and has to be mined and refined before distributing it. Hence, data quality is going to be of paramount importance in the new world which opens another plethora of opportunities for testing professionals.
Is Automation the end of the road?
Another key question which crops up in a lot of discussions is, what happens after a particular task or process has been automated? Will we need fewer people after that?
The answer is No. We have to understand that automation is not the end, it is means to an end so automation will continue even after we achieve initial goals. The customer needs will always keep changing as change is constant and the only permanent thing. Companies have to adapt to what customers need, the applications will keep evolving and so would the corresponding test automation.
Where are we heading?
During all the previous industrial revolutions, starting in the 18th century, there has been fear and concern that machines will take up the jobs which humans are doing. It was the case when mechanical tools came in, when electricity and automated production came in or when the computers came in. Reality is that all of us are employed and doing far more innovative and challenging work than our ancestors did. No one could have imagined 50 years ago, the kind of jobs we are doing today. Hence it is part of human evolution and I am sure humans will find more interesting and innovative things to do in future. However, what’s important is that we keep re-skilling ourselves to match the needs of tomorrow and contribute towards the fourth industrial revolution with optimism and confidence as a bright future awaits all.