Data – Making decisions one byte at a time

data In terms of data, anyone who says – I have nothing to hide, has just not thought long enough. So what is data to you? Your address book, contact lists, email lists, bank account details, your list of favorite sites you visit, your blood pressure trend this week, your sugar count in last 5 days, your heart rates, how many cigarettes you smoke, how many steps you walk, how many calories you ate, how many calories you burnt, Your emails, your presentations, updates from friends (FB) and colleagues (Linkedin / Twitter), weather updates, traffic updates, navigation to a place, news, community updates, music, pictures, jokes and forwards on whatsapp…..so on and so forth.

Any or all of these could be “data” for you. How does it make you feel to think of a day in life without access to any of these? Even worse – how would you feel if instead of you, someone else is browsing through your data?

On whom does the onus lie to protect this data? You, Your device manufacturer, your ISP, your app stores, application owners? One may not be able to say for sure who does as a generic rule. However, its easy to figure out the security ownership in a proper context. And this needs to be clearly identified.

All huge companies are protecting their data and fighting for more, they say : “Data is the new Oil”. The start-ups are also giving data its due respect, their perspective: “Data is the new Middle Manager”. This makes it imperative for the data to have high integrity, availability and reliability.

dilbert data

As part of testing community, what is our role in the wide world of data?  It is our job to ensure that our clients and organizations are reaching every goal set forward for data.  We must ensure that we thoroughly test the accuracy of the data, the building of the data, the storage, the security, and the presentation of the data.  Retailers and other organizations are becoming more and more complex in their approaches to how they use data, and we, as testers, must ensure that we are keeping up with the changes and the needs.

Does your testing team work with data?  Are you building data adhoc?  Or have you implemented a methodology that supports data creation, testing, security, and implementation?  If your work is adhoc, I strongly recommend you to think about changes within your team which will improve how you look at data and the testing of data.

My advice for you, as a tester, is to investigate the basic concepts of Big Data, Enterprise Data Warehouse, the ETL Process (Extract, Transport, and Load), and Business Intelligence.  You will see an immediate improvement to your testing practice and your product delivery if you are able to derive and approach to how you handle data.

data scientist

So you may be asking, “How can I best learn about these concepts”?  I would suggest that you look at the upcoming STPCon conference, which is coming to Boston on October 5-8 this year.  I will be conducting a workshop on the concepts of data and data testing called Maximizing success with data testing: one byte at a time on Tuesday, October 6 from 1-5pm.

Hoping to see you at STPCon!

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