The world is hurtling towards a cognitive information and communication future, and the lines between physical, digital and virtual assets are blurring. There is a lot of buzz about how to connect the dots in our digital world to create successful business models. While change is evitable, carefully crafted adaptations are required to survive in the hyper-competitive digital era.
Key to crafting a strategy is to understand the specific trends impacting specific markets. In Altran’s case, this includes five vertical markets: network equipment providers (NEPs), communications service providers (CSPs), and companies that make consumer electronics and internet devices, enterprise software and semiconductors. This blog examines the challenges these sectors face and the software and hardware testing practices required to meet the challenges.
If we look at today’s networks, there are visible changes occurring across all five markets. These are primarily due to three drivers:
• The value chain is shrinking fast, and all stakeholders want to be closer to the end user. For example, CSPs are evolving their value proposition just as internet companies are coming up with the same services. At the same time, internet companies are re-inventing themselves to provide other services such as media streaming, value-added services, chat, connected devices, connected homes, etc.
• The pace of mergers and acquisition is increasing, and there is a lot of focus on capital allocation. Finding the right balance between maintaining legacy products and services, and investing in cutting-edge technology is the prime objective.
• Consumer devices are becoming smarter, and the number of new devices being introduced is exploding. The market is no longer limited to smartphones, desktops and tablets.
1. The NEP market
The key trends for NEPs are captured in the figure below.
While there are many challenges, some of the key challenges according to Deloitte is as below. They are:
• Emergence of new wireless technology focused on faster speed, low latency and high battery power
• Internet of things such as NB-IoT and LTE-IoT in long and medium range respectively
• High speed converged fixed line network for voice, data and video transfer
• Cloud networking and less reliability on proprietary hardware
Figure 1: The four sources of change for networking
2. The CSP market
The primary requirements come from the evolution of the CSP market that is transitioning from CSP 1.0 to CSP 2.0. The CSP 2.0 market approach is primarily driven by three factors. They are:
• How to increase operational efficiency?
• What are the new channels of revenue generation?
• How to deliver what a customer wants?
Deloitte predicts that in 2017, operators will undertake broader digital transformation programs on two fronts. The first is digital transformational programs designed to enhance customer experiences by adding more digital interaction points with a focus on customer acquisition, customer relationships and customer value management. On the second front is the urgency being placed on these digital transformation programs to unlock new revenue generating business models. The transformation is happening primarily on the customer lifecycle management side, but the pace of identifying new business opportunities is slow.
The key trends for CSPs are captures in the figure below.
Most of the operators are facing stiff competition from OTT players. While the technology itself is advancing, balancing the right portfolio in terms of network types, newer services such as OTT, Internet of things and software defined virtualization is of paramount importance. Many operators have already deployed LTE, at the same time lots of testing are happening in LTE Advance and LTE Advance Pro. Fiber is by far coming to the consumer premise, curbs, neighborhood replacing older copper technologies. Internet of things is picking up, hence there is a requirement of low cost and high power smart devices. Biometrics in the smartphone has become the new trend for authentication and authorization. Operators are launching their own OTT video services to counter online players. The content is becoming the king.
Figure 2: The influencers of the trends for CSPs
3. The consumer electronics and internet market
With the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices, the consumer landscape is perhaps changing most rapidly.
The key trends in the consumer and internet market are depicted in the diagram below.
Consumer electronics market is facing the emergence of the following factors.
• Smart phones, tablets & wearables and the number is very huge
• Augmented and Virtual reality is CPE devices such as TV, STB, Mobile gaming
• 4K and going forward 8K TV and content
• Video on the go: Anytime, anywhere and on any devices
• Smart payment and wallets replacing the older payment methods and complementing card payments
• Going social: Watch, share, comment, rate and review together
Figure 3: The eight factors influencing the consumer and internet product sector
Here are three of the most important themes in this market:
• Multidimensional screen expansion: Screens of all sizes are proliferating, and all of them are getting more pixels. Ultra-HD TVs are starting to take off, from almost none in 2013 to an estimated 500,000 this year. Smartwatches and other wearables are starting to take off. In the U.S., the smartwatch market will hit 1.5 million units this year, with continued growth dependant on the launch of a killer app.
• Age of autonomy: Embedding sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes in all kinds of products allows them to operate independently in response to external stimuli. As the use of sensors increases, prices keep falling. For instance, automakers are embedding camera devices on the front of cars that enable adaptive cruise control systems. A growing number of new cars have “park assist” that beeps when there’s a parking space and then tells the driver to take their hands off the wheel so it can park the car autonomously.
As we start to digitize everyday things, we can make decisions more quickly and let machines do tasks on our behalf. Radio technology is the key because providing connections to devices of all kinds is how we make them useful-anywhere and all the time. There is 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, of course, but there’s also Zigbee, ANT+, and many others.
• Curation and content: Services require systems that access data and make sense of it so we can make more informed decisions. Netflix, for instance, has algorithms that can guess what we want to watch next. But what if Netflix also had access to its customers’ wearable devices? It could read, for example, heart rate or body temperature to determine stress levels and use that additional digital information to make more sophisticated decisions. Or Netflix could detect there are six people in the room, and suggest movies that are best viewed by groups.
4. Enterprise software market
For many years, enterprise software had a fixed model with a fixed chain of activities that software companies followed. The sequence of these activities went something like this: requisitioning, requirements gathering, code writing, testing and finally delivery. The end product was often delivered first to desktops, when they were the dominant platform, and later to laptops when they replaced desktops.
As the end-product market evolved so did enterprise software development. Newer, more convenient and useful trends emerged so today the key trends in enterprise software are:
• Enterprise software is becoming lean and fast
• Functional programming approach is gaining popularity
• DevOps has emerged as standard development process, and adoption is growing
• Analytics is becoming a key differentiator
• Cloud computing is taking over datacenters
The key trends in the enterprise software market are captured in the figure below.
Some of the enterprise technologies trends to watch out in 2017 are:
• Machine learning
• Contextual computing
• Virtual reality
• Real time stream processing and analytics
• Wearable IT
• Mobile Payment
• Edge computing
• Adaptive cyber security
Figure 4: Next Generation Enterprise Trends
All four of the trends described above have a significant impact on the silicon market. Chips are ubiquitous in consumer devices, telecom networks and enterprise hardware. The global semiconductor industry is expected to reach $394 billion this year and post an average compounded annual growth rate of 4.3% over the next five years. Global macroeconomic developments and technological advances, personal computers, and memory markets are expected to drive demand over the forecast period, according to Research and Markets.
But the semiconductor industry is fragmented. The Asia-Pacific region (APAC) accounts for approximately three-fourths of the global market. Major players include Intel, Samsung Electronics, Texas Instruments, Toshiba and TSMC. Trends impacting market dynamics include the shift of electronic equipment production to China and the relatively high semiconductor content of that equipment.
There are five key drivers of the development of the semiconductor market, specifically high-performance SOCs and ASICs:
• Shrinking form factors
• Billions of smart devices
• Faster networks
• Shift to cloud computing
• Growth of the IoT market
The below figure explains the IoT and connected devices market trends.
Figure 5: IoT Connected Devices
Source: Market Realist
The Test Challenge
The emerging trends, while keeping the dots together and make communication effective and efficient, also possess some challenges. Some of them are listed below:
• Ubiquitous connectivity
• Power consumption
• Network complexity
• Smart devices integration
• Maintenance of legacy assets and integration
• Quality of services
• Faster time-to-market
While there are many challenges, if a particular challenge is to be highlighted, then that is going to be cyber security.
For the past decade and a half, mobile devices were bolted onto a company’s IT strategy because the devices themselves were what professionals used when they were traveling or between times when they were sitting at a computer. Today, there’s a lot more you can do on mobile and so mobile usage continues to skyrocket. As a result, every company needs to treat mobile like a central component of its IT, data, and cybersecurity policies. In the same way mobile devices changed the game for IT security over the past two decades, the Internet of Things is changing it again. IoT is connecting a greater diversity of devices to the corporate network, and with that brings much greater complexity and risk. And the scale is incredible. There are now over 3 billion smartphones in use in the world. There are already 8 billion IoT devices and we’re still at the very beginning of the growth curve. That number will climb past 25 billion by 2020 according to zdnet.
Privacy is a serious concern not just in the IoT, but in all the applications, devices or systems where we share information. Even when users take precautions to secure their information, there are conditions that are beyond their control. Hackers can now craft attacks with unprecedented sophistication and correlate information not just from public networks, but also from different private sources, such as cars, smartphones, home automation systems and even refrigerators.
The industry needs to learn from its mistakes as it innovates and builds devices to function interconnected with the Internet. Many of the best security practices can be leveraged, such as hardening the systems, using secure protocols for communication or installing the latest updates, fixes and patches. Innovators need to consider that future security will be managed automatically by the system instead of users, and designing secure technology will require a new approach and mindset.
With the advent of complex networks and communication technologies, cloud-based architectures, IoT, the proliferation of smart devices it’s important to integrate intelligence into all aspects of the test. These solutions need to be both forward-looking, able to adapt to new technologies as they emerge, as well as backward compatible. High-quality testing that is intelligent enables NEPs, CSPs, consumer electronics and internet device companies, enterprise software and semiconductor companies to turn their offerings rapidly into commercially successful zero-defect products.
The accelerating pace of innovation in new technologies, networks and methodologies is forcing companies to adopt new strategies to achieve a competitive edge in a changing market. Today’s hyper-competitive landscape requires intelligent test solutions that can manage the higher velocity, volume and complexity of new product releases while improving product quality, lowering costs and accelerating time-to-revenue.
The Altran Solution
Altran’s motto is “Don’t test harder, test smarter” in the digital era. Utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the Altran portfolio of intelligent test and automation services helps customers boost time-to-market by reducing test cycles and business risk and improving product quality and operational efficiency.
Our intelligent testing services include automation and a prescriptive analytics approach for test-case optimization that improves code quality and test coverage, and reduces defects through the agile and DevOps product lifecycle management process.
We help customers transform their testing strategies with an agile, end-to-end and comprehensive approach focusing on test automation, test tools and equipment rationalization, test optimization and test environment consolidation in a multi-technology, multi-domain, multi-network setting across the key industry verticals.
Altran’s services include:
• Cognitive test automation
• Managed lab environment and test automation
• Agile and DevOps enabled testing
• Managed testing services
• NFV/SDN testing
• Platform validation
• Connectivity testing
• Software product quality assurance
• Wireless testing
Altran’s intelligent testing solution and offerings are captured in the figure below.
Altran offers a variety of accelerators, tools and frameworks beside making testing intelligent driven by Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning. Some of them are:
• Certificate Testing Framework: Analytics driven, feedbacks data from defect management system and continuous inputs to app developers
• High Velocity DevOps: Automated sequencing of all the steps involved from source to deployment.
• HAVOC: Security Automation
• Altran Remote Testing: Remote access, uses standard off the shelf component
Figure 6: Intelligent Testing Offerings
Source: Market Realist
The key benefits of Altran’s intelligent testing solution include:
• Improved productivity with shorter, more efficient test cycles with optimal test coverage
• Increased ROI with better defect detection leading to an improved customer experience
• Optimal test coverage with the right set of test cases
• Improved response time with on-demand test environment availability
• Significant improvement in reduced field defects with an AI-based test approach
Keeping abreast with the latest trends and utilizing intelligent testing results in high-quality products that are delivered to market faster.
For more information on security testing, see https://northamerica.altran.com/insights/brochures
For more information on Altran Intelligent Testing Offerings, see https://northamerica.altran.com/services/intelligent-testing-services