The explosion of the mobile apps economy is pretty obvious to just about everyone. Smartphones are rapidly becoming a primary method of interaction for consumers and businesses worldwide – and tablets aren’t far behind. In fact, both are growing exponentially faster than installed base of desktops and laptops. The explosion of mobile – and thus, apps – can be observed in nearly every industry (especially retail, media, education and financial services with their large, diverse user bases).
In the B2B world, mobile apps are running rampant as well: dominating such spaces as CRM, ERP, analytics and complex projects. This changes the way we produce documents and presentations; and enables employees to communicate through email, instant messaging and more.
In short, the future of software doesn’t just include mobile; it is mobile. And as adoption increases across industries by leaps and bounds, success in this new frontier will become ever-more critical to your company’s success. Those firms that recognize this trend for what it is – a technological revolution – and take preemptive action to make the quality, security and usability of their mobile applications a top priority, will find themselves with a tremendous advantage.
But just having apps won’t cut it. Users are becoming increasingly tech savvy, and as a result their expectations are increasing. According to a recent study, 60% of mobile users will abandon your app or mobile site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. Of those users, 43% said they would never return to your app or mobile site – and that’s just scratching the surface of user expectations.
The point is, users now expect their apps to work and work well…the first time, every time and everywhere. And, unfortunately for companies, while user expectations are increasing, so is the ease of publicly reviewing and discussing the product.
Back in the day, a bad customer experience was between the user and the company’s customer service line. Today, thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and others, that same word-of-mouth travels at the speed of light and reaches hundreds, thousands or more potential users. The other major difference is app stores themselves. Imagine if a poor review were stamped directly on the packing of a product. With app store ratings, that’s exactly what’s happening. There’s no way to hide poor mobile app quality in the era of social media and app stores.
So you can’t afford to miss the mobile revolution, nor can you risk launching even one version with spotty quality. So how do you ensure that your mobile apps work as intended in the hands of users?
It’s become more apparent in recent years that traditional testing methods are no longer sufficient on their own. But as with previous testing paradigms – manual vs. automated, in-house vs. outsourced, emulators vs. remote access – new schools and approaches have been debated to the point where lines are drawn in the sand.
The difference between this and previous debates, however, is that previous innovations took place inside the confines of the QA lab, either behind the company firewall or in a similarly sterile environment halfway around the world. This is because historically, when companies wanted to improve their testing, they did so within this somewhat lab environment – far removed from where their users work, live and play.
The evolution of mobile eliminates that option as an effective solution on its own. If testing for smartphone, tablet, e-reader and gaming console applications is conducted exclusively within a lab-based environment, how can companies be sure that their apps will work under the wildly diverse conditions in which their actual users consume the app? Outside factors have more effect on mobile apps than they have ever had on previous types of software.
The solution is for QA professionals to complement their traditional lab testing with testing done in the wild – under real-world conditions covering real devices across carriers, OSes and locations.
There was a time when companies had a legitimate reason for not fully testing their mobile apps; the mobile matrix was too complex and burdensome to be covered using standard means. But thanks to the rapid pervasiveness of in-the-wild testing, companies are able to gain a competitive advantage with each new mobile app release.
As the mobile market continues to grow, those brands that make real-world testing coverage a priority will enjoy ROI in terms of increased market share, profitability and above all, user loyalty. Those who neglect in-the-wild testing will struggle to keep up in a world filled with app stores, social media and increased user expectations.
The future of mobile applications remains bright. Once reserved for a tech-savvy niche of companies, both the use of mobile apps and the burgeoning apps economy are now firmly entrenched in the mainstream. And there’s no turning back.
For more information, please visit www.inthewildtesting.com.