[Interview] Jonathon Wright – Chief Technology Evangelist – Keysight Technologies
Jonathon Wright is a strategic thought leader and distinguished technology evangelist. He specializes in emerging technologies, innovation, and automation, and has more than 25 years of international commercial experience within global organizations. He is the Chief Technology Evangelist and heads up Product Engineering (R&D) for Eggplant a Keysight Technologies company. Keysight Technologies Eggplant AI-driven test and automation intelligence solutions deliver continuous testing of retail systems, devices, and omnichannel experiences enabling your teams to deliver higher quality applications faster.
Tell us a bit about your background
I joined Keysight Technologies as its Chief Technology Evangelist in 2020 and have 25 years of experience in test automation. During my career, I’ve published several books on this topic and artificial intelligence (AI) and regularly speak at global conferences, including TED and Gartner.
Some refer to me as the “cyborg sent back in time to save the world from bad software,” however my current focus is helping our retail customers build next-generation AI-enabled test platforms to improve their users’ experiences.
What does your company do? / What is your USP?
Keysight Technologies’ heritage began when it was part of Hewlett Packard in 1938 during the birth of Silicon Valley. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard worked from their infamous garage near Stanford University, making technological advancements by building, testing, and learning from actual customers. As a result, the first 200D oscillator, an instrument that generates one pure tone or frequency at a time, was sold to Disney to help introduce the first-ever stereo signal for the classic animated film Fantasia in 1939.
This led to test and measurement being at the core of everything Keysight does and we’re the only company able to test the entire technology stack. Our Eggplant test automation software is key to our ability to test anything from eCommerce websites to mobile applications to modern ERP systems like Salesforce. Eggplant is able to execute multichannel testing by providing mobile device labs in the cloud so that retailers can test their customers’ actual devices. It is these capabilities that resulted in Eggplant being recognised as an innovative leader by Gartner and Forrester.
Eggplant can test ATMs, in-store retail systems like electronic point-of-sale (ePOS) platforms, and self-checkout experiences by operating robotics. Eggplant is non-invasive, which means it doesn’t need to access code, so you can test anything you see or touch on a screen. Testing through the eyes of the user makes complex scenarios, like virtual reality and the metaverse, simple for the Eggplant solution.
Unlike other testing tools, Eggplant doesn’t rely on browser-based technologies or hooking into the software. By testing the user interface (UI) layer, retailers can accurately monitor what their customers see when interacting with their brand.
What’s special about the platform and your approach? What advantage does it add?
Every retailer wants to release new digital features as quickly as possible and Eggplant helps reduce time-to-market by enabling continuous software testing. The solution uses a model-based approach to testing, which quickly creates a visual representation or “digital twin” of the application, system, or device you might be testing. Not only can models be created quickly, but they also self-heal if you add an extra step within your test case, so you don’t have to rely on fixing and maintaining test scripts every time a change is made. This dramatically reduces test maintenance allowing our customers to execute automation at scale.
Eggplant uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to increase test coverage via automated exploratory testing, helping to find bugs or errors that may damage the customer experience. By combining this with intelligent image based testing (IBT), Eggplant interacts with what it can see on a screen instead of interrogating the code. This allows our customers to test multiple platforms and accurately monitor the user experience, regardless of whether an Android mobile device, smartwatch, or laptop is being used.
I appreciate that this might sound complex, which is why we use our proprietary language, SenseTalk, which allows you to build test cases using English. Test automation is no longer solely for those with years of programming experience — non-technical people can jump in and start building tests in minutes.
What does a product/service implementation actually look like?
At Keysight, we prioritise forming partnerships with our customers instead of merely having a transactional relationship. We do this by understanding their technical challenges and the implications these have on the business. Technology, when used correctly, should be seen as a business enabler instead of a cost centre. To ensure this happens, our solution architects and technical consultants take one of the most complicated challenges an organisation faces and build a proof of value to highlight Eggplant’s unique capabilities.
Once Eggplant is implemented, we support our customers with professional services and can train their staff to utilise all the advanced functionality, helping to embed Eggplant within an organisation. And once you’re part of the Keysight family, we offer support from our communities if you hit any challenges — we’re always here to help.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage?
Retail is incredibly fast-paced, so having the ability to react to changes quickly is vital. But with different devices, channels, and systems in play, we often see test automation in pockets within retailers. The key is to automate testing from backend systems all the way through to your front-facing customer systems.
However, we see many retailers using various open-source tools to orchestrate end-to-end testing — different testing tools are used for browsers, APIs, mobile applications, and backend systems, and the list continues. Eggplant combines all these different technologies to test them all at once and validate the visual experience at the UI.
For instance, most retailers offer multiple ways to shop. Customers can place orders via a website, mobile app, voice (Siri or Alexa), or even a TV or games console. All these customer-facing systems are connected to backend systems via APIs so they can receive an order. As part of this technology stack, there are undoubtedly various third-party applications like CRM, ERP, or fulfilment systems integrated. And there may even be software that customers can use to track their orders.
Eggplant can test it all. Compared to using multiple tools, using Eggplant is much quicker and cheaper. You’re also not testing in isolation because retailers need to know how everything works together to ensure flawless customer experiences. Eggplant can also monitor website performance to ensure it’s available under peak load when Black Friday comes around or a huge summer sale is launched.
Keysight can test every customer experience across the whole retail estate like no other company.
Are there other companies you partner with?
Up until now, we have been talking about digital. However, there is a big part of retail that we haven’t discussed at great length: in-store. A smooth checkout experience is important, which is why we partner with robotics test automation company, IntelliQA, to automate testing ePOS terminals and payment devices.
Customers expect an easy, quick checkout experience, but manually testing ePOS and physical payment capabilities has been challenging. Combining the Eggplant test automation solution with IntelliQAs robotics completely revolutionises traditional testing. Not only can you test every click or tap on an ePOS screen, but you can test a range of payment capabilities, such as chip and pin, contactless, and even loyalty schemes on a mobile device.
Our step-by-step guide shows how this can work.
What opportunities do you see in the future of retail?
Retail is heading towards more immersive shopping experiences, further blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. Mixed Reality (XR), augmented reality, and gamification are becoming more commonplace. Upcoming launches of mixed reality glasses from Apple and Google may cement this way of shopping as normal.
In a couple of years, retailers may be embracing gamification components and overlaying dynamic pricing unique to customers as they wander down the aisles with mixed reality glasses on. This may sound like something out of the Minority Report, but we are seeing a shift in consumers feeling more comfortable with technology, especially when it comes to convenience. For example, in APAC, people can shop on a virtual wall while waiting for a train or subway. While traveling to work, someone can order the ingredients for their evening meal, and have it delivered for when they return home.
And then there’s the metaverse, which opens a whole new world of opportunities — quite literally. Non-fungible tokens (NFTS) allow the digital rights of products like clothing or other luxury goods in the virtual world. Back in the real world with the introduction of edge AI introduced in iO16 if you click on a photo displaying a product or item of clothing that someone is wearing, you will be able to change it to their favourite colour, and then place an order, all within a few clicks. Some retailers are already buying space in the metaverse, so it will be interesting to see how this progresses.
Wherever people choose to shop — online, in-store, or the virtual world, Keysight is well placed to help retailers deliver a fantastic experience for their customers.
To discover how Keysight’s Eggplant software can revolutionise your retail experience, contact them today.
Jonathon Wright is a strategic thought leader and distinguished technology evangelist. He specializes in emerging technologies, innovation, and automation, and has more than 25 years of international commercial experience within global organizations. He is the Chief Technology Evangelist and heads up Product Engineering (R&D) for Eggplant a Keysight Technologies company. Jonathon combines his extensive practical experience and leadership with insights into real-world adoption of Cognitive Engineering (Enterprise A.I. and AIOps). Thus, he is frequently in demand as a speaker at international conferences such as TEDx, Gartner, Oracle, AI Summit, ITWeb, EuroSTAR, STAREast, STARWest, UKSTAR, Guild Conferences, Swiss Testing Days, Unicom, DevOps Summit, TestExpo and Vivit Community. In his spare time he is the QA advisory lead for MIT for the COVID Paths Check foundation throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. He is also a member of Harvard Business Council, A.I. Alliance for the European Commission, chair of the review committee for the ISO-IEC 29119 part 8 “Model-Based Testing” and part 11 for the “Testing of A.I. based systems” for the British Computer Society (BCS SIGiST). Jonathon also hosts the QA lead (based in Canada) and the author of several award-winning books (2010 – 2022) the latest with Rex Black on ‘AI for Testing’.
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