Quality assurance underpins accelerating digital transformation efforts in Energy, Utilities and Chemicals organizations
QA and testing can make an important contribution to business growth in a difficult market for energy, utilities and chemicals (EUC) organizations. That’s according to the latest World Quality Report from Capgemini and Sogeti, in partnership with Micro Focus, published in November 2020.
As many of the biggest energy users became paralyzed by the global pandemic, the demand for oil, gas and energy plummeted in 2020. The EUC market was further hit by Russia and Saudi Arabia flooding it with oil and gas. With research for this year’s World Quality Report (WQR) conducted in June and July 2020, the impact of COVID-19 on quality assurance (QA) and testing practices on this sector is clear to see.
The dual pressures of reduced demand and over supply saw many EUC companies taking swift action on both operating expenses and capital expenditures. Enhancing efficiency was one route to this. Which is likely to be why we observed an acceleration in digital transformation efforts as organizations recognized the role of digital in increasing efficiency, competitiveness, and the ability to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances.
Naturally, a key part of any digital transformation effort is QA and EUC companies are no exception to this. We asked them to rate the most important objectives for QA and testing and the biggest number (42%) of EUC respondents declared that contributing to business growth was ‘essential’. The same percentage also gave an ‘essential’ rating to the detection of software defects before go-live.
In a market where security is a priority, it is no surprise that the proportion of EUC respondents who said they always proactively monitor and review production logs for incidents and performance trends is higher than the average – 35% versus the 28% average. EUC companies are taking this more rigorous approach in order to identify application issues and potential defects even before end-users notice them.
Similarly, in response to a question about the methods of testing digital applications, 34% of EUC respondents said an independent validation team checks quality before go-live. This was considerably more than our survey sample as a whole and is likely to be driven by regulatory obligations. And with cyber incidents in the EUC industry rising during the pandemic, there was an increased focus on the security validation of applications – 45% of EUC respondents placed high emphasis on this, against 31% as the global survey average.
Interest in AI grows
Energy, utilities and chemical organizations are also adopting a smart approach to technology. Who hasn’t heard of smart grids and smart meters? And here we see EUC businesses expressing an interest in the QA potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Smart QA options highlighted by EUC respondents as highly relevant included automated root cause analysis – at 66%, this was much higher than the 58% survey average. In regulated industries, this makes absolute sense. So too does defect prediction, which at 40% of EUC respondents is much higher than the 29% figure for the survey as a whole. Businesses in this sector have high duties of care with respect to safety and the environment.
Overall, EUC organizations appear to be fairly upbeat about their progress in AI and ML as far as QA is concerned. For example, some 83% of them feel their current test strategy will work for AI as well, and 88% enthusiastically agree that AI is the strongest part of their testing activities.
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If you’d like to hear more about our findings relating to QA and testing in the Energy, Utilities and Chemicals sector, please get in touch with: