At the first glance the IT industry may seem to be the main winner in coronavirus pandemic: it fully embraced remote work long ago, easily adapts to changes in accordance with Agile methodology and in the age of digitisation programmers are still in demand. But there is a “but”.
Demand for the IT services in Poland was growing before the outbreak of a pandemic – according to the StepStone report for Business Insider Polska published in December 2019, the most sought-for profession in 2020 were predicted to be an IT specialist/programmer/developer. IT industry dominated the whole ranking, because the second place took an IT project management leader/project manager and the fourth – an analyst. Demand for such qualifications can be considered to be global, because “technological” positions also dominated the annual LinkedIn report with projections for 2020. First came an artificial intelligence specialist, followed by (amongst others) the full stack developers, IT security specialists and developers.
IT industry and coronavirus pandemic – additional incentive for growth?
The coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted the labour market in each country that was affected by it. However, the IT industry belongs to those which emerged from it unscathed. You can even say that it won. Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, who regularly publishes his opinions on the Bloomberg website, has written in April 2020 that “Technology is indispensable to lead a normal life”. Nowadays (which means in the era of the coronavirus pandemic), according to Cowen United States of America would be forced to introduce „track and trace” system. One of the conceptions describing its implementation is the smartphone application making use of geolocalisation, which would send information that its user is nearby the person infected with COVID-19. Such ideas, backed up by real needs, would be more and more prevalent, because the pandemic almost overnight changed the way we live:
- The necessity to introduce remote work forces to do so even those companies, which so far have been sceptical towards this solution.
The global giants were prepared for such a scenario: Twitter, Google or JPMorgan, as reported by CNBC, have been testing the possibility of implementing the remote work in advance. Atlassian and Slack obliged all their employees to work remotely. In this context the title of the GitLab report from March 2020: “The future of the work is remote” does not seem accidental. In the study took part more than three thousand workers representing different branches. Here is the portrait of the remote worker that came out of it:
Source: GitLab.com Advantages of the remote were also emphasised in the analysis prepared by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics. It shows that in the last ten years popularity of the remote work in the United States has increased by 91%. Moreover, 85% of the surveyed companies claimed that introduction of the remote work boosted efficiency of theirs employees. As many as 57% respondents working remotely reported increased job satisfaction.
The landscape of the Polish labour market is slightly different: in the Homejob survey, conducted before the pandemic outbreak, only 36% workers declared that they have possibility to work remotely. The changes that we witness now have already modified this statistics. According to the respondents of Devire survey, in the situation of pandemic 7 from 10 companies which earlier had not wanted to enable remote work, changed their mind. The IT industry would play a big role in this transformation: the main task would be creating and implementing appropriate systems for remote work and ensuring security of the companies’ data.
- E-learning would be developing alongside the telemedicine; events industry would see the chance to bounce back from coronavirus crisis in the videoconference tools.
IT supports and for sure would be supporting transfer of the medicine and education to the internet. Here also the boundary between the giants, excellently prepared for such a transition (i.e. Harvard), and “others”, which would have to take accelerated lesson about new technologies, is visible. The events industry, which worth is estimated for trillions of dollars, is also looking for an ideal way to tackle a decline. Many high profile events moved to the internet – i.e. Adobe Summit, SAS Global Forum or Google Cloud Next’20, which is also called Digital Connect and would be free of charge. The organisers of these events want to make the digital experience to feel as close as possible to the “real” one. It could be done only with an appropriate technical support. Online streaming or teleconferences which shall substitute for traditional networking would be a challenging task for not only for the developers responsible for building proper infrastructure (and its maintenance), but also for the organisers and participants of the events.
- „Pandemic is the mother of invention” – in this unprecedented situation IT industry is asked to create new systems and applications, as well as to increase efficiency and capacity of the ones that are already in use.
The machine learning model helps to develop efficient therapy for COVID-19 infection. New programmes, which enable for providing medical services from a distance, are created. In Israel there is ongoing work on the Diagnostics.ai – the tool for automatization of the coronavirus tests, which can double their daily number. In Madrid special application named „Corona Madrid” was implemented. It was designed for the people who suspect that they could be infected – it helps to identify the symptoms and suggests the places where person can get help. WHO launched the chatbot which provide the information about coronavirus and special module in social media named „Coronavirus information center”. There is no doubt that we are witnessing the beginning of the new era.
- In the face of economic crisis many companies close stationary shops and invest in online services.
As a consequence new websites, CRM-s and databases are in a great demand. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2020 growth in the world economy will fall by 3%. It is expected to be the worst economic crisis since the 30s of the XX century. Projections for Poland also are not optimistic – according to the IMF our PKB this year will shrink by 4,6%. This means wave of redundancies, but also transfer of the battle for consumers into the Internet.
Threats for the IT industry in the coronavirus era
Theoretically, all signs in heaven and on earth indicate growing demand for this type of services, what should result in increasing returns. In my opinion external factors are not the ones that can pose potential threats for the IT industry – we should take a closer look at the internal risks. Paradoxically, they are the effect of the rapid development of the branch –increase of productivity in the teams that implemented scrum methodology (according to McKinsey it was 27% growth in comparison to the projects managed in waterfall) and the fast pace of software development. The phenomenon that can cause deterioration of the quality of the software that is produced as well as prolongation of the delivery period is so called testing gap, which means lack of the appropriate test coverage.
These risks were already pointed out in 2018, in the article „Situation of the testers on the market”. Unfortunately, there has been relatively little change in this area:
„Complexity of the tests increases exponentially with the appearance of the new functions, and test coverage grows linearly, because the tests can be added only individually. In effect the amount of code produced is bigger than testers’ capacity, what leads to the gap in testing coverage (so called testing gap).”
There is also serious labour shortage, as the results of the „Developer Survey 2019” indicate. It was conducted among more than 80 thousands IT workers from all over the world. In testing specialised only… 7,8% of the respondents – developers are the overwhelming majority here:
Additionally, the complexity of the applications created by developers, as well as the amount of data that should be processed, is constantly growing. Because software testing professions do not enjoy the same level of popularity as the positions of the developers, recruitment and training of the new employees do not seem to be enough to address it. The solution to this problem could be freeing resources and making the best use of the knowledge and competencies that are already available on the market. How can you do that?
Implement the appropriate software testing automation tool
“Appropriate” means one that can not only enable you to speed up testing process, but also would be a solution that offers higher quality than the others advertised on the market. What requirements it should meet?
- Availability to all testers, including those who do not know a thing about programming.
- Reliability and effectiveness, which exclude non-deterministic tests (so called flaky tests).
- Support for the tester in terms of bug analysis and identification of the causes of their appearance.
- Easy configuration and handling thanks to appropriate interface design (in accordance with the newest UI/UX recommendations).
- Recording of the tests.
- Ability for auto-recovery of the tests.
- Ready-to-use templates of the single steps in test scenarios, which you can group and configure in any way.
- Tests modelling displayed on the graph, what enables you to quickly estimate the phase that the particular test scenario is in.
- Easy creation of even the most complicated test scenarios thanks to the fact that your programme operates on many different tabs, browser windows and frames.