The evolution of in-car technology demands a sharper focus on Quality Assurance
Transformation is under way in the Automotive industry as many leading players forge ahead with the adoption of new QA technologies, according to the latest World Quality Report from Capgemini and Sogeti, in partnership with Micro Focus, published in November 2020.
A revolution has been taking place across the automotive industry in recent years as digital technology assumes an increasingly important role in the life of modern vehicles. From regarding themselves as ‘manufacturers’, companies in this sector now claim to be ‘mobility services providers’. This is no surprise when you consider the extent to which on-board IT is revolutionizing the driving experience. As we point out in the latest World Quality Report (WQR), all car makers, from recent entrants such as Tesla to established companies such as Volkswagen, are as much software companies as they are anything else.
This is a business strategy that has big implications for QA and testing. Almost three-quarters (71%) of automotive industry respondents in the 2020-2021 WQR claimed that contributing to business outcomes was an essential QA and testing objective. A similarly high figure (66%) said that ensuring end-user satisfaction was essential.
Enhancing the user experience
Let’s take a closer look at this end-user objective. As new on-board services are introduced to enhance the driver experience, QA and testing is less about ensuring the car works and more about whether it does what the user expects. This shift is reflected in the significantly higher-than-average proportion of automotive industry respondents (58%) saying they use smart tools that predict user behaviors to help them decide what to test. This makes sense in an industry that needs to understand how drivers are interacting with in-car functionality in order to continually improve the offer.
Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) is part and parcel of this ‘smart’ approach to testing. And it’s not just the use of AI as a testing tool that’s a factor here – it’s also the actual use of AI within the vehicle, which itself needs to be tested. For example, on-board systems now include picture recognition to help drivers interpret road signs and identify potential hazards. Over two-thirds of automotive industry respondents (69%) report that a new strategy is needed to test AI.
The more there is to test, the greater the need for efficiency. So, it is no wonder that we are also seeing significant investment in test automation by automotive companies. They also report that they have the right automation strategy, that test data and test environments are available at the right time, and that they have the necessary test automation skills and experience.
A disruptive year
We cannot conclude this article on our WQR findings without reference to COVID-19, which has disrupted all sectors. Prior to the outbreak in Spring 2020, new attitudes to car ownership were emerging, especially in cities where people were starting to think of vehicles as a service rather than as a product. Instead of owning a car, drivers began to book them online when they were needed. However, driving a car used by someone else didn’t seem a healthy choice once the pandemic took hold. Instead, private ownership is back in favor, with Citroën selling 500 of the Ami electric vehicle in just two weeks following its launch in France.
Looking ahead, more and better validation tools to enable future testing and QA, and a focus on application security validation are set to be other areas of focus in this sector.
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