Quality matters. It has an impact on the value and equity of your entire corporate brand. So it’s everyone’s job, from the C-level to QA and in between, to protect your corporate brand and its brand equity. For instance, if your brand is worth half a trillion dollars, a single QA mistake that is pushed out to the public or even internally could harm that brand by billions of dollars. Not necessarily hard dollars, but soft dollars, and those are dollars. QA people play an incredibly important role in ensuring application quality that, in turn, transfers to brand equity. This is really their job, but that realization can get lost in the daily project list of scripts needing to be written. If you’re a CIO, you need visibility so you can make or your team can make the right decision. This means you need to see bugs before your users do. Nothing’s bug free, but you need to know that the bugs out there won’t impact your brand equity. It’s all about visibility.
What’s in a Brand?
Brand equity and a company’s brand are two different things. A brand is made up of a handful of things that lend themselves to immediate recognition. For example, the products that the company brings to market, and the use of those products. If you are Pepsi, it’s your drinks. If you’re Hilton Hotels, it’s your hotels. The third major brand factor today is your online representation. On top of these three factors, there is another aspect of your brand which is customer support and how people feel about that, which becomes brand equity and adds to the value the brand has.
Brand equity is what the brand is worth in the customer’s mind. Sometimes that is also in the company’s shareholders’ minds because shareholders can be customers too. This makes positive brand equity even more important. If you’re an e-commerce site, your entire brand equity is online.
So the brand is all about instant recognizability, and brand equity is all about the brand’s value in its customers’ minds.
The connection between Brand Equity and Software Quality
Building positive brand equity is all about quality. For instance, you book a hotel room online at a Hilton. You choose that particular hotel because you recognize the brand. You probably don’t interact with a person and haven’t stayed at the hotel you’re booking. All you have is the representation of that hotel and how they treat you online. Once you get there, it’s about how easy it is to check in and out, how clean it is, and other factors. It’s now quality of experience. Customers rely on online experiences today as well as the physical experiences, and that’s why online experience impacts a company’s brand equity. It’s often the first impression your company makes on a new customer.
Brand equity can be positive or negative depending on the quality of the experience. Take for example, the response time to a customer search on an e-commerce site. For every additional second it takes to get a response, you could lose up to half your clients. Not that they went to another site, but they multitask—read email, look for new tires—and by the time your page is loaded, they’ve closed the browser or moved on. You lose. In the case of e-commerce, you can lose most of your customers when there’s a quality issue. Customers don’t come back to slow, buggy websites. What they remember three weeks later is that they didn’t like their experience. Now your company’s brand equity just plummeted to zero. It could take years to recover the billions of dollars in brand equity lost, even though it was one QA person who made the error.
For an e-commerce site or mobile app, a six or seven-second response time is a serious performance issue. If it’s more than one second, it’s not just a performance issue, it’s arguably a bug. The company is going to lose more than 50% of its clients with a several-second response time. Often it knows it, but it has budgetary constraints, limits on servers, and other reasons why the performance is what it is. The fact is, slow response time is costing the company top line and bottom line.
The losses aren’t just with e-commerce. It’s also true with bugs in internal software because brand equity applies to employees too. Quality testing must happen with internally facing, mission-critical applications as well as the external-facing applications. In the case of a large US bank, they may have some 14,000 applications, of which a dozen are external-facing, and almost all 14,000 run the company.
If that bank allows a bug-filled ERP system to be used by employees, it sends the message that wasting employee time is acceptable and the company doesn’t care about them. A “We’ll fix it next time” mentality ruins brand equity with your employees.
It’s also a major productivity hit for that bank. Things don’t work as well, there are some workarounds, but you have to figure out what those are, and maybe there are some aspects of certain jobs you can’t do. That’s a productivity hit across possibly a hundred thousand employees that could mean a million minutes a day of lost productivity, or billions annually.
How to ensure quality with true AI
Whether internal or external, brand equity relies on quality. The best way to ensure a positive experience with your company’s applications is to thoroughly test them using genuine artificial intelligence (AI) testing on an AI-native platform. After Appvance introduced AI-driven testing in 2017, several testing vendors slapped the term “AI” on their websites but their tools use AI in a very narrow way to improve the recording of scripts, not to actually create tests on your behalf. True AI-driven testing is where AI learns your applications through supervised and unsupervised learning, with your help. It then begins to write and automatically run its own use cases to find bugs in your internal applications, and applications that overlap with your customers’ activities, that you would never have had time to find. You don’t even know it’s doing it.
AI gives you more than 10 times the visibility you’re accustomed to, regardless of your test coverage, or your team’s size. It gives you visibility into both potential and real issues. This means you can decide if an issue is going to harm your brand equity. A quality issue such as a little image missing, that no one notices is missing, might not harm your brand. On the other hand, if a customer follows a flow and it crashes the program, that is going to dramatically harm your brand. It takes everyone off the app. If customers and users find serious bugs often enough, it’s even possible that CIOs and QA engineers get fired.
Appvance IQ (AIQ), after supervised training, learns each of your builds in very deep ways that humans cannot absorb. It learns from actual user activity what users are really doing, and from other data such as system logs. Supervised learning happens when one of your QA engineers, or a QA architect, leads it through the application and teaches it which directions to go in, what’s important, what’s not important, the things not to do, and how to complete specific actions, like filling out forms. AIQ has a code generator that generates tests by itself and creates libraries of accessors based on training inputs and what it sees. It writes use cases for you; they’re self-maintained, they self-fix, and they will rewrite. In thousands. Nearly 100% application coverage (often that’s more than 10X your test coverage).
Bear in mind that bugs aren’t found in use cases you tested because you validated them. Your brand equity is damaged when users find bugs in areas of your application that you didn’t test. And that’s where the bugs always are… in areas you didn’t test. This means you’re not testing enough. Why? Because you ran out of time, money, or people. In an ideal world, you would test everything, all of the time, if you had unlimited resources or AI. Real AI. And that’s where Appvance AIQ can be transformational.
To see AIQ in action, schedule a customized demo with the Appvance team to learn how AI can help you protect your brand equity.