SOGETI UK BLOG

Lately, organizations are investing in robotics technology with a vision to someday clone humans and their intelligence. One of the key aspects here is to be able to conquer the popular human senses Sight, hearing , taste, smell, and touch. I remember about four years ago, IBM in its annual release of “IBM 5 in 5” listing, innovations that have the potential to change the world, unleashed for the first time its vision and ambition for cognitive systems and confidence that computers will be able to replicate all these human senses in the next five years. We are already 4 years down the timeline and while there is a lot to be done, we have products and services in the market which give a lot of promises in turning the vision into a reality in the coming years.

One such offering is ‘Tango’ from Google (earlier called as project Tango). This is maiden product coming out of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), an in-house technology incubator. Putting together ‘Tango’ with Google’s own ‘Glasses’ and cognitive services like IBM Watson, it provides us with the required tools that one needs to understand and replicate the ‘Visual’ sense of humans.

Last month, in June 2016, at Lenovo’s Tech World event in San Francisco, Google announced the first ever consumer implementation of Project Tango. Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro phone, a 6.4inch smartphone/ expected to be priced at $499, will be the best way for consumers to get the  Tango experience.

 

Tango 1
The rear camera on Lenovo’s’ Project Tango smartphone

So what is ‘Tango’? Simply put, Tango is a new vision technology that allows potentially any mobile device to “see” in much the same way that humans do. It provides a platform that uses computer vision to give devices the ability to understand their position relative to the world around them. Tango gives mobile devices this kind of understanding by using three core technologies: Motion Tracking, Area Learning, and Depth Perception.

  • With Motion Tracking the device is able to track its own movement in 3D space; similar to how a mouse helps us track our position on a flat surface.
  • Area Learning helps the device to remember its surrounding and
  • Finally, the Depth Perception empowers the device to understand the distance of objects in real world.

 

Tango 2
A view through a Tango application

Tango’s hardware takes a quarter of a million readings per second and could theoretically be used on any piece of mobile hardware. Tango technology will sound similar to the Xbox 360’s Kinect gaming device from Microsoft. That’s right and coincidently one of the lead designers of Tango, Johnny Lee, was also on the Xbox 360 Kinect team. While gaming industry was one of the first applications of this technology, it has a huge potential to be used in various domains and daily human activities.

 

About couple of years back, working as part of Sogeti India IBM Alliance initiative, a couple of technologists working with me had come up with an innovative idea of “Digital Mirror”, a direct application of Tango. Digital Mirror was then an innovative fairly futuristic idea to build a service which can be used by online fashion retailers as well as retail fashion stores in substitute of trial rooms. For instance, for a shoe trial online, a customer will use his Tango device/mobile to capture the 3D attributes of his feet and the retailer will publish the 3D attributes of the shoe. The customer’s  data can then be mapped with shoe data to validate if the shoe will fit the customer as well as using graphical visualization show how the shoes will appear on feet. The shoe fitment validation was expected to be accurate. Similarly, this can be applied to trials of clothes. While back then, we did not succeed in converting our proof-of-concept into a strong business case to productize the idea, we are already looking at this idea becoming a reality with quite a few stores starting to have these special devices in their stores. With Tango set to be available for the mass through affordable smartphones, the idea can finally see it blooming to its full potential. For me, it is a hope in sight to end those agonizing times waiting  outside trial rooms while  my wife and daughters keep trying out the endless options of clothes and that too on busy weekends when the malls are crowded.

If tango’s ability to create a 3D world is applied to current Google Glass patented technology of “gazing log” that will store locations and points-of-views for a Google glass user, it has the ability to take the virtual reality experience to a completely different level. And then cognitive computing services like Watson can use the vast data generated by these devices/technologies to guide the device users with informed inferences to guide him to take improved actions. Applications on this line can turn out to be a boon for the visually challenged.

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Posted in: 4G, High Tech, IBM, Infrastructure, Innovation, mobile applications, mobile testing, Robotics, Software testing news      
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SogetiLabs writers Menno van Doorn and Sander Duivestein have just released the second of four reports on Machine Intelligence – The Bot Effect: ‘Friending Your Brand’. It’s a report that looks into current discussions on the bot era and how bots are being integrated into every-day life. From how bots are creating conversation for personal and commercial use to what the social face of bots should be through to how bots can communicate with staff in the workplace. The report gives an in-depth review and discussion into what we can expect in the future and what progress is currently being made within the world of robotics and their integration into everyday life.

With bots being increasingly integrated within the commercial world, Menno and Sander investigate what this could mean for some industries and companies that are heavily application based especially as Gartner believes this trend places us in the post-app era. Could this mean bots are the new apps?

Discussions in the report go into detail about the intelligence of the bots and what part machine intelligence plays in ensuring the bots can understand and deal with your needs. Does this mean your brand can become friendlier through presenting itself through chat platforms and therefore gain brand loyalty? Well by reading the report you will be able to learn how companies like KLM are already banking on this being the case. IT systems were not designed with a view to having a natural human conversation, and now they are, this raises a whole load of new questions to what people are calling the ‘people-fication’.

The report delves into a term called ‘the butler economy’ and what this means for modern day. With innovative technology being discussed in the report, it gives insight into what companies such as Facebook and Amazon are doing to bring products to us that ensure us a seamless and extended access to information through bots or, as they call it, ‘smart agents’.

Reading this report gives us an understanding of micro moments and it shows why Forrester Research have said they are a huge opportunity for companies. Further to this it goes into depth of why Marketing guru’s such as Brian Solis are saying they are the ‘new reality of marketing’, and how micro moments allow conversation to go into conversion.

So considering the other topics such as how bots can help customers buy products, get them information they need and have a friendly interface to do it with, how could they help employees within the workplace? Does this mean we could see Robo-doctors, -chefs, -lawyers? Further to this could our new boss be a bot? See examples of this already being implemented, with venture capital investor Deep Knowledge Ventures from Hong Kong being the first company in the world appointing a software program as a member of its Executive Board and seeing what benefits have surfaced from this.

With bots being an emerging technology, we can’t say what the direction of this technology will be for sure but this report offers a good starting point to better understand these new opportunities. To further understand the impact that this could have on our day-to-day lives, you can read the full report here.

LaraIrwin AUTHOR:
Lara heads up the marketing function for Sogeti UK. She is particularly passionate about marketing and technology, and the pace of change in both areas.

Posted in: Business Intelligence, communication, Digital strategy, IT strategy, Marketing, Opinion, Reports, Research, Software testing, SogetiLabs      
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Telecommunication occurs when the exchange of information between participants includes the use of technology. Telecommunication is in the center of digital economy, and operators are constantly struggling with digitalizing themselves to deal with the rapidly increasing completion.

Since the days of the early mobile networks, telecom operators have remained unchanged but it now appears that they are failing to meet consumers’ expectations. Given that three-quarter of the world population uses mobile phones, mobile operators have to get in the digital economy. For instance, only 8% of consumers consider the existence of stores as essential because of the rise of mobile apps. Consumers now prefer a digital-only player that offers attractive data plans, which are normally the leaders of the tech industry – (the GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon).

While trying to focus on the operators responds it became clear to me that only a few of them have launched concrete digital initiatives to stay relevant: telcos (telephone companies) have not used yet digital technologies to improve the customer’s experience. A Capgemini Consulting report revealed that out of 66 telcos analysed in the US and in Europe, only 4 could be considered as digital-only mobile operators (no call centers and shops). This market is clearly a young one.

Let’s try to focus on the main characteristics of digital telcos. We could consider three main pillars which are the basis of digital telcos. The first one is a redefined digital customer experience: real-time & mobile interactions. Then comes the idea of building a digital DNA by creating a digital culture and organization. And the last pillar would be an easier operating model in simplifying the customer relationship and the process of demand for instance.

You may wonder what the benefits of telcos offering digital services are. In fact, those firms are very performing, they have a much higher share of consumers using digital channels than the physical telcos. With those lower costs and with the use of only digital services (≠ stores, call centers…), they tremendously increase their benefits. Our society is getting digitalized and those companies are just following the move.

It is now clear that Telecom Operators should all become digital telcos. The difficulty in such a transformation is that the entire core has to be transformed which is a long and drawn out exercise. It is for sure imperative that Telcos seize the opportunity to rethink and reengineer their relationship with the customer to keep their leadership.

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Posted in: Apps, Big data, Collaboration, communication, Developers, Digital, Digital strategy, High Tech, Innovation, IT strategy, Marketing, mobile applications, Reports, Research, Software testing, Testing and innovation, Transformation, Uncategorized, User Experience      
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Enhancement, Performance & Speed

As Igor Shoifot, an investment partner with TMT Investments recently told CIOonline “Most hot startups in 2016 won’t be trying to lead revolutions or usher in whole new industries, instead, they’ll be enhancing existing technologies, products, services, or transactional ecosystems by saving users time, money, effort, and helping them make better choices more easily.”

To achieve this level of performance and speed of delivery to meet customer’s changing requirements, startups and SMBs need to supercharge their DevOps strategies. FinTech startups for example, are moving into emerging markets such as Africa and Asia and rapidly creating telecom networks from the ground up, and as there are no legacy systems to circumnavigate, it’s the perfect environment for a DevOps approach.  We tend to think that startups automatically do DevOps well because their culture lends itself to Lean and Agile working, but this is not always the case. Certainly established SMBs with ingrained business processes seeking to capitalise on DevOps benefits such as a shorter release cycle, faster deployment, higher-quality products, and improved market competitiveness, often struggle to fulfill their DevOps potential after initial adoption. So what are the challenges to improving DevOps and how can Startups and SMBs supercharge their DevOps and sharpen up their test strategy to stay ahead of the game?

 

Good DevOps Bad DevOps

In an ideal DevOps world, you’re treating your infrastructure as code, using a configuration management tool like Chef or our partner SmartBear’s recommendation – Salt – and implementing a scalable strategy that enables version control, continuous integration, code review and automated testing. If DevOps is working effectively, you should be well on your way to eliminating regression and technical debt. In reality however it can be difficult to achieve the cultural change required for DevOps. You may also find the promises of improved communication, streamlined processing, earlier bug detection and faster time to market simply aren’t happening. If your start-up or SMB DevOps strategy is more “BadOps” than DevOps, here are some tips to get it back on track.

Culture & Adoption

Remember that DevOps won’t work if it is only applied in tech teams. It’s a philosophy that needs to be adopted company-wide. Start with a small to medium-sized, new and visible project and ensure you have buy-in from key senior management people who can become evangelists. Ensure that all teams and individuals are working towards clearly defined common goals. Take a leaf out of companies like Target and Movel’s books and host internal DevOps and hack days, create a lab and have demonstrations, breakout sessions and guest speakers to keep people inspired.

Define Performance

Brainstorm with key stakeholders and create your own definition of “Performance”. What does success look like? What is the definition of done? If you’re a startup you’ll want to use behavior-driven development and get your product to market as soon as possible to start seeing a return. SMBs may be more focused on quality through earlier bug detection and scalability for small and large projects. Once you know what you’re aiming for you can establish clear goals and objectives and apply DevOps principles to achieving them.

Banish the Bottlenecks

Review the current workflows for your operational and business units. Examine the business drivers at each DevOps stage and look at your business KPIs. From this you can objectively define how performance should be measured, create key metrics that give you insight into your development and deployment processes and communications and set common goals. Wherever the metrics reveal a bottleneck, streamline your process, build bridges over silos and open up the channels of communication and collaboration.

The Key to DevOps with Quality

The overriding principle to bear in mind is that quality is everybody’s responsibility and then implement the following quality processes:

  • Lifecycle test automation
  • Continuous Test
  • Lean and Agile process adoption
  • Test Virtualization
  • Test Optimization and Standardization
  • Continuous Monitoring
  • Acknowledge the role of Quality Engineer

Automation

Not everything is suitable for automation so you need to prioritise what can be automated, start small and then grow your automation strategy to include Build, Functional and Service automation to the highest possible level. This also needs to be continually monitored and adapted accordingly.

 

The DevOps Journey

It’s important to remember that once you implement your DevOps strategy and start to collaborate and automate in a more standardized and repeatable way, your DevOps journey isn’t over. One only has to look at Facebook to see how, although they have always had a DevOps mindset, it has consistently matured over time resulting in their migration to Chef and bi-weekly app updates, and creating new standards of rapid delivery and quality. The pillars on which DevOps is built are people, processes and tools and, to succeed, these 3 elements have to be dynamic; adapting and changing in alignment with new tech and customer requirements.

To discover how Sogeti can help you create a dynamic DevOps test strategy follow this link.

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Posted in: Automation Testing, Collaboration, communication, DevOps, Digital strategy, e-Commerce, Environmental impact, Infrastructure, Innovation, project management, Quality Assurance, Requirements, Research, Software Development, Sogeti customers, Test Driven Development, Testing and innovation      
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We’re all going on a…

Going on holiday this summer? According to Google you’ll probably spend 55 minutes booking your airbnb and flights online, visit 17 websites to get the best price to flight time ratio, click 4 different search ads and use multiple devices during the process. 60% of us are booking our holidays and 41% organising our business trips online and nearly 75% of airports expect the vast majority of their customers to check in online by 2017. We no longer see ourselves as tourists – we’re travellers – and we want to create the most comprehensive, authentic travel experience in the most seamless, painless, efficient and cost effective way.

 

SOA & APIs

The key to success in the Travel & Leisure industry is to turn a one-time customer into a loyal brand advocate who returns time and again and recommends your services with favourable online reviews.  With so many discount travel options on offer the new competitive differentiator is a seamless online CX that takes you on a pain free journey from booking to check-in and then beyond to airport transfers, car rental, recommended sights and suggestions of appropriate new travel destinations upon your return.

It’s no wonder then that the Travel & Leisure industry is leading the way in embracing Service Oriented Architecture in order to achieve greater integration and scalability, enable better responsiveness and reusability and provide a fully immersive customer experience (CX). Of course the growing use of APIs is an extension of SOA and businesses are utilising them as both providers and users. British Airways, Expedia, TripIt, and Yahoo Travel, have all wholeheartedly embraced APIs and opened them up to external developers, meaning that the APIs themselves are becoming services. Whilst this is great news from a customer experience perspective, SOA and APIs bring with them their own peculiar set of testing challenges and many travel businesses have found it hard to make the switch successfully. So, what are the challenges for test teams and what’s the best approach to overcome them?

 

SOA Test Challenges

The main challenge for test teams is that SOA applications comprise separate services and a variety of APIs, created by distributed teams, and all these people, processes, tools and services need to communicate and inter-operate with one another. SOA functionality is complex and has to change rapidly to align with the market trends, so a traditional test approach will only cause delays, drive up costs and wreak havoc with the customer experience. Other issues include the fact that SOA is more data-driven; it can be hard to determine performance scenarios, create accurate test environments and reproduce potential and actual end-user issues; and, where you may be used to focusing on an individual product feature, you now need to view and test the big picture.

 

Progression Not Regression

It’s essential to categorise and document all of your services during the design phase, with careful differentiation between data and processing services. Use behaviour driven development to identify your usage scenarios for each service so that their capabilities match the expectations of the end-user. As for testing, we all know by now that we should be taking a shift left approach, but for SOA this is even more crucial if we are to find the right balance between manual and automation testing, to automate effectively and see a decent ROI.

Effective automation testing in a SOA environment requires a progressive rather than regressive approach. Test teams need to automate functional test cases during the development process as opposed to in the regression suite. Agility and iteration are key and you need to employ Test Driven Development, bringing testing to the very forefront of your Sprint cycle, creating scripts to test new functionality before it is developed. As to what to test and when, it makes sense to implement end to end testing on the flow of business before breaking this down to inter-application, intra-application and unit tests.

Of course this is just scratching the surface of testing in and SOA environment. While these tips are a good starting point, this area of testing is potentially so complex and so key to business success that leisure and travel companies will need to find a dedicated test partner to create the test strategy at the outset of the SOA project. You can discover more about Sogeti’s approach to testing in an SOA environment here.

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Posted in: API, Automation Testing, Behaviour Driven Development, Business Intelligence, Data structure, Digital, Digital strategy, IT strategy, Research, Software Development, test data management, Test Driven Development, Test environment, Testing and innovation, Transformation, User Experience      
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