This content is part of the Essential Guide: Get ahead of the game: How to be a more technical tester

What's the future of software testing? Start with data science

In the rapidly changing world of software testing, one thing is certain: You're going to need new skills. And you're going to need to understand the business.

Kishore Durg, global growth and strategy lead of Accenture Technology and head of Accenture's roughly 35,000-person...

testing service, has seen the future of software testing, and it's looking a lot like a cross between a business analyst and a data scientist.

"If I'm a manual tester, the role that I need to embrace is going to be one of analytics," Durg said in a recent interview. "It's not going to be about fixing things, but about understanding the client's business and what can you do to help grow the business."

Although quick to add that manual testing is not going to disappear altogether -- or anytime soon -- Durg stressed the testing profession is in the middle of a profound disruption that is already well underway. Testers themselves are aware of it -- a recent survey from London-based recruitment firm Harvey Nash indicated 67% expect to be automated out of a job in the next 10 years. That's hardly surprising: The popularity of Agile, and lately, DevOps, has made automated testing a requirement for success.

Although the future of software testing may look dire, Durg said this is actually an opportunity for testers who want to get creative and learn new skills. In many industries, particularly financial and retail, the business side is increasingly driving the technology agenda -- what some call BizDevOps -- creating a need for data analysis combined with business understanding and problem-solving. And that's where testers come in, Durg explained.

"Fundamentals like regression testing are going to be automated out, and manual testers are going to need to learn model-based automation skills with a lot more analytics," he said. "Our clients are looking at testers to grow the business ... and they also value the traditional perspective testers bring."

It's not going to be about fixing things.
Kishore Durgglobal growth and strategy lead, Accenture

This is part of what Robert Stroud, principal analyst serving infrastructure and operations at Forrester Research, refers to as the transformation of IT, where "companies are more focused on the metrics and the business value, and bringing it together with development."

To respond to this shift, Accenture's making sure its employees are ready for the future of software testing by providing cross-training opportunities in everything from security to analytics, the cloud, mobility and even artificial intelligence. The goal is to make sure testers have deep knowledge of these key areas, Durg said. And, if possible, Accenture testers are actually embedded with clients to ensure they understand the business mission completely. That works in both directions, he added; in those scenarios, it also allows clients to see up close just what testers bring to the table.

"Nobody thinks testing is dead," Durg stressed. "Testing is absolutely critical. But how it gets done and what mechanism you use is changing."

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