Comtrade’s Quest for Quality 2017: Big Data

Business, Interviews, Technology | Fri 6 Oct | Author – Business & Finance
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Comtrade Digital Services’ second Quest for Quality conference brought together the best software-testing professionals from Ireland, the UK and the DACH region to learn about the challenges of quality assurance in digital transformation.

On the second and final day of Comtrade Digital Services’ Quest for Quality conference at The Marker Hotel, Lina Zubyte, a QA engineer with Secret Sauce Partners, highlighted the effects of big data in the retail world, in particular online fashion retailers.

Secret Sauce Partners provides data-driven merchandising solutions for customers in online retail where a piece of functionality allows the user select an item of clothing and input credentials that enables him/her to choose the correct size depending on the item.

As most of us know, sizes vary depending on the brand so this tool can be extremely beneficial for the user/customer that doesn’t have a tangible grasp of the item when shopping online.

Lina discussed how this piece of functionality not only affects a company’s way of business, but also the data behind it.

Lina is from Lithuania originally where she worked in a large company but moved to the unknown start-up world in Hungary to work for Secret Sauce.

“A very important part of my job became analysing and monitoring data”, she said of her new role. I became the first full-time tester in this company, so that’s quite a change.”

When people hear of testing they think physical testing on a machine or piece of software. But Lina hammers home the need to go under the surface and analyse data to better serve your service and your company. With the example of a sweater on a client’s website, Lina says the actual physical interface is very simple to test, but studying the data that is actually inputted is another thing, especially when you take in how many instance there are of this.

“There may be six thousand sweaters on this website and there are way more categories, and every single category has thousands of products in it.

“And then to make matters worse, there is not only one website as a partner, there are way more, there are more than ten. So you end up in this overwhelming feeling that what you actually looked at is just one little fleshy, overwhelming dot in the universe of dots.

“And to make matters worse, we have 10 million products.”

This huge dataset can’t be tested manually. Lina highlighted monitoring tools such as New Relic and Snowplow to make the role easier; they incorporate dashboard functionality and infographic visualisation.

Even so, Lina sees the value of testing being lost in organisations and sees this as troubling, particularly when it’s becoming far more specialised.

“A lot of work needs to be done. It’s hard to maintain quality.

“I wish to spread a message and spread awareness. Big companies just don’t seem to get it.”

She also highlighted the “shift” from traditional means to the new forms of testing she was talking of, where she stated “someone is always looking at quality” now, whereas before the ‘if-it-works-it’s-fine’ model was in place. That doesn’t cut it anymore, more so with the influx of data coming our way every single day.

Lina finished by saying that testing needs to be more “visible” because it’s “harder to find value” and because it draws up “very important investigations” for future monitoring.

During this conference, it’s plain to see testing isn’t a fringe operation any longer – it is now so much more specialised, technical and a vital component of the IT sector. And judging by Lina’s work, it’s becoming evermore important in the big-data age.