In the Capgemini and Micro Focus World Quality Report 2019-2020, ecosystems remain a priority.

Smart and connected ecosystems that allow for improved testing across business flows and within teams. It has become something of a buzzword over the past year – ecosystems.

It’s the term that defines the shift in thinking from the silo towards more connected and agile environments that demand continuous testing to remain competitive and capable.

According to Mandla Mbonambi, CEO of Africonology Solutions, transformation and disruption are making companies ask questions around their ability to modernise and the need to invest in ecosystems for long-term strategic growth.

“Ecosystems are hyped right now because of the value they offer and how they are changing the shape of testing and DevOps,” he adds. “Or perhaps how DevOps and testing are driving the need for ecosystems.”

In the report, one of the key findings centres around how intelligent and connected ecosystems are evolving out of the blurring of the boundaries between development and quality assurance.

There’s a need for continuous and comprehensive testing that validates business processes from end-to-end as this will help to reduce reliance on silos while enhancing the reach and scope of testing overall. What’s interesting, is that this need is being pushed by the business, not just IT.

“Organisations have been seeing a shift in control for a long time now,” says Mbonambi. “IT has been losing its grip on technology as different business units and executives have become increasingly interested in what it can do, and how it can benefit the bottom line.

“We’ve seen technology purchasing power move steadily into the CEOs or COOs office, away from the traditional lines of IT. This shift is changing how organisations approach solution development and testing as well – companies want high-end solutions that capitalise on emergent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.”

So, what does this mean? It means that in the world of testing, ecosystems are more than just niche businesses tugging one another into a holistic solution. They are the intelligent and capable and integrated spaces within which testing provides continuous insights and support. By investing in continuous testing within this type of ecosystem, the organisation is doing more than just monitoring developments, it’s investing in intelligence.

“Intelligent ecosystems deliver ongoing business intelligence,” says Mbonambi. “The insights derived from continuous testing can allow for the organisation to make more informed and relevant choices and pivots during development. They can also change how the business approaches work and DevOps – the insights can be used to help the organisation become more adaptive in its processes.”

Another major advantage of holistic ecosystems is, as mentioned earlier, the ability to side-line the silo. Cross-functional teams are far more agile and can integrate insights far more effectively and they allow for far better agility than those that are stuck on their silo treadmills. This is an immensely valuable competitive advantage that ticks all the boxes of faster, better, more.

“Cross-functional and agile teams that can engage within a holistic testing environment that allows for solid development and ensures adequate provisioning – this is the way forward,” says Mbonambi. “The problem is the cost. It’s expensive to follow the hype and to invest in new systems and to bypass the complexities of legacy technology.

“This is where testing-as-a-service comes in – the ability to invest in continuous testing that enables the ecosystem’s way of thinking without the heavy costs of skills, personnel, and test provisioning.”

Testing-as-a-service not only hands the organisation – any organisation – the skilled teammates it needs to compete with the market, it also gives it the ability to leverage more intelligent solutions.

Access to quality and skilled engineering talent that’s capable of taking testing to the next level is hard to come by in the South African market. Skills are in short supply here – they’re in short supply everywhere. To get the kind of results that best practice demands, the business needs the right talent.

“The business has to invest in the right skills to get intelligent solutions and to curate holistic ecosystems,” concludes Mbonambi. “So, instead of chasing the tail of skilled talent and continuous testing best practice singlehandedly, work with a partner company that can hand you the talent and the experience in one collaborative solution, which is part of why Africonology exists, to partner with clients in enabling them to have access to this talent and best practices.”