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Automation @ the Speed of Change — Accelerate SF Day 1

So far at Accelerate SF, 800+ onsite and 1600+ virtual attendees have witnessed….

  • An acquisition announcement (LiveCompare)
  • A Gartner keynote on the future of automation
  • The “Great Debate” about where AI will have the greatest impact on software testing
  • Top financial and teleco execs sharing insights on “The Automation Imperative”
  • 40+ sessions on scaling Agile testing, addressing test automation challenges, reducing the pain of SAP testing, the real point of load testing, making BI test automation a reality , and more
  • 2 dragons dancing to the beat of 5 drummers

And that was just Day 1

The bustling conference, making its second visit to SF, was a whirlwind of insights, innovations, and inspiration around the theme Automation @ the Speed of Change. Here’s a quick recap of some of the key takeaways so far…

Tricentis’ Tremendous Growth—and Opportunity

Sandeep Johri kicked off the keynotes talking about just how much the world has changed since he joined Tricentis in 2013, and how being perfectly poised for these disruptions enabled Tricentis to lead the market in Continuous Testing. He then revealed both an acquisition—LiveCompare, known for slashing the scope of SAP testing required for each SAP update/migration/upgrade. Here’s just a few of his key points:

  • Tricentis’ impressive growth is driven by 3 main trends: the need to transform testing for DevOps and digital transformation, the new testing complexities involved in moving to SAP S/4HANA in time for SAP’s 2025 ultimatum, and the continued need to replace outdated testing tools as teams adopt modern Agile testing processes with Jira.
  • Tricentis has been heavily investing in enabling customer success—through a dedicated Customer Success team, innovative roadmap and assessment programs, a world-class academy driving nearly 100K certified Tricentis professionals , and the industry’s top partner ecosystem.

AI—You Can’t Handle the Truth

The “Great Debate” attracted record interest and attendance—and that was before anyone knew Tom Murphy would return to the keynote stage as a surprise guest. We recognize the live broadcast time wasn’t ideal for many of you, so we’ll soon be making it available globally (and we’ll do a more detailed wrap-up at that point).

For now, here’s a spoiler-free preview of some of the top discussion items:

  • Is AI real in software testing, or are we just looking at a load of “marketing BS”?
  • Is AI a solution in search of problems, or is it really delivering business outcomes?
  • Where do we get started with AI? How broadly or narrowly should it be applied?
  • What are the risks of using machine learning for testing?
  • What should machines do vs what should humans do?
  • How does today’s “AI-driven testing” really differ from model-based testing?

The Automation Imperative: Is it All About Speed?

Some debating continued outside of the Great Debate: especially surrounding automation and speed, two key elements of the conference theme (Automation @ the Speed of Change).

Johri noted that digital transformation has set CIOs’ sights on automation across the enterprise: applying as much automation as possible across the entire customer, employee, and IT lifecycles. According to Johri, “It’s all about speed. They want to automate to become a more agile enterprise in everything they do.”

Tom Murphy later chimed in on the topic, “Digital transformation, DevOps and Agile aren’t just about going fast. You could be going fast down a dead end. It’s about getting fast feedback and being able to pivot vs running into a brick wall.”

Philippe Buron (former CIO of BNP Paribas) then directly challenged the “it’s all about speed” statement during the Automation Imperative panel, arguing that cost pressure was the primary concern…at least in the financial services industry. “You can’t disassociate time to market and cost. As a CIO, you’re looking at your cost basis and you want to ensure that you’re delivering the maximum value to your customers and shareholders. This means you need to automate everything that doesn’t’ add value.”  

T-Mobile’s Shyam Prakash then summed up the topic of “the automation imperative” very nicely:  “Agile, DevOps, and cloud have fundamentally changed that the way that we think about automation. There needs to be automation in everything that we do. The technologies have changed, the processes have changed, the methodologies have changed. If you’re not at a hyper-automated state for every step in the process, you simply will not be able to survive in this digital economy.”

Testers Initiating Change

From attendees to presenters, the conference was filled with testing professionals committed to being “agents of change” in their organization. For example:

  • Ash Coleman explained how having a diverse group of testers which each bring different contexts will ultimately result in a better customer experience and a more valuable product.  
  • Maria Boykins shared how Chick-fil-A transformed Quality Engineering from a small manual testing group to a powerful, influential arm of the engineering organization
  • Ken Maiers and Chris Boyle detailed how the Disney testing team built advanced test automation services to prepare for the launch of the Disney+ standalone streaming service
  • Karen Walker led a workshop on changing your team dynamics (and your own work style) for sustainability and scalability.
  • Chris Rolls reported on the findings from TTC’s recent research project, which analyzed what 7 factors were most important for successful test automation initiatives with Tricentis Tosca.

Testers Embracing Rapid Change

One common thread across the various success stories was that the “agents of change” not only managed the now never-ending onslaught of rapid change, but learned to thrive in the face of it. Sessions addressed this from a few angles:

  • Chris Trueman, the mastermind of LiveCompare, explained how 100+ leading companies are using change impact analysis to keep pace with the rapid change that’s fast-becoming the new normal in the SAP world.
  • Adam Satterfield offered tips, based on his experience at Anthem, on how testers can thrive in a world of ever-changing trends and technologies
  • Merck and Tx3 spoke specifically to the challenges of rapidly increasing test automation for Agile—within the heavily-regulated life sciences industry.