What is crowd sourced testing – in very simple terms it is all about bringing in the crowd aka community at large to evaluate a product and provide feedback. This could mean a crowd within your own organization, a crowd from the outside world, and can really be leveraged by companies of varying scale, technology, domain etc. Crowd sourced testing has been gaining a lot of momentum in recent years but there is still a lot of hesitation too in adopting it in a product’s mainstream testing efforts. While there will be continued discussions on its value, challenges, mitigations etc. what is the one main compelling reason that pushes forward the need for crowd sourced testing?
The global user base is what has really necessitated crowd sourced testing. Users who live in different geographies, with varying levels of education, financial positioning, internet bandwidth and access, requirements, devices are all using technology and technology powered products and applications. With such a vast increase in user base and diversity, it is almost impossible for a central team of testers located for instance in the US or India or China to test and accommodate all of the global user needs. At a bare minimum they are having to interact with global users to understand their needs and accommodate them in their test efforts. As a more convenient and sophisticated step, several teams are bringing in global users as crowd testers into their product life cycle. You may ask, can this not be done through usability studies. While this is largely true, connecting with users is not all about usability in the current days. It is also to understand what their performance experiences are like, how securely they are able to use the product, does it meet their localization needs etc. From all of these stands, it is becoming increasingly useful to have a hand-picked team of crowd users from the global user base to evaluate the product on an ongoing basis.
Also, if you look at the newer products and technologies entering the marketplace be it wearable computing, location based applications, augmented reality etc. a lot of these call for manual field testing to validate and verify on the ground. Field testing is thus becoming an important responsibility of the core functional team, but it may not be practically possibly to carry out field testing globally. In such situations, it is a very valuable option to leverage selected crowd users from across the globe to participate in field evaluations while the core team hand holds them to the required extent to get desired outcomes.
At the end of the day, while several other reasons may necessitate as well as restrict the growth of crowd sourced testing, that one main compelling reason is the “global penetration of products and technologies” that brings global users together tightly coupling them to the development efforts of the products they use.