In today’s digital world, a car isn’t just a car, a home isn’t just a home, and a factory isn’t just a factory. They’re all connected and intelligent and rely on both hardware and embedded software to deliver value to end-customers. But to make sure these connected and intelligent products operate safely and as intended, enterprises need to completely rethink the way they verify and validate them before they release them to market. Here are the key things enterprises need to keep top of mind when reimagining Verification and Validation (V&V) for their digital products.
- Product security: With increasing volumes of data and products operating in an “always connected” state, enterprises need to emphasize security compliance and testing for digital vulnerabilities. Examples such as Microsoft’s AI bot Tay going haywire and hackers being able to remotely control Tesla car functionalities make it clear that these vulnerabilities expose their users to multiple risks.
- Ecosystem integration: Here, enterprises need to think beyond the component and system level to verify and validate how the product functions within its connected ecosystem. For example, how does your connected medical device interact with other hospital equipment, patient records, doctors’ offices, and patients’ smart phones?
- Response predictability: Making products connected and intelligent also means that interactions with them will yield different responses based on context and the period they have been in service. This lower predictability in responses – as compared with legacy products – makes it complex to manage quality and mandates a degree of automation in the V&V process.
- Compliance: As regulatory bodies are imposing increasingly stringent compliance and certification requirements on digital products, especially in industries such as medical devices, BFSI, and automotive, enterprises need to quickly and adeptly revise their quality assurance practices.
- Speed: With an ever-increasing competitive requirement on time-to-market and the many frequent changes that characterize digital products, enterprises must appropriately tune their V&V programs to deliver with speed and scale. At the same time, they need to manage the complexity of embedded and hardware development lifecycles running at different cadences.
- Learning curve: Given the new technologies and capabilities required for developing digital products, enterprises also need to determine how to manage hard-to-find skilled talent, collective organizational knowledge, and the typically steep learning curve around quality engineering.
- Developments in processes and technologies: Finally, enterprises need to leverage new developments such as Design For Quality (DFQ) to rectify design flaws earlier in the product lifecycle, cognitive testing techniques enabled by AI/ML, analytics, and robotics to make the V&V process productive and repeatable, and “digital twins” to increase predictability of product performance in the real world. They also need to keep pace with the innovation in tools and procedures in areas such as EMC, environment, acoustic, and mechanical testing to ensure better coverage and conformance.
Third-party service providers can help
Because these capabilities require significant infrastructural and talent investments many enterprises find it challenging to leverage them. As a result, V&V for digital products is emerging as a highly relevant category for global sourcing with the presence of specialist partners that provide “as-a-service” capabilities. Their offerings, including Quality-as-a-Service (QaaS) Testing-as-a-Service (TaaS,) and Testing-as-a-Utility (TaaU,) are cost effective, and can provide multiple benefits to enterprises, including:
- Access to consulting expertise: Ideation and planning for quality requirements, and associated strategies for leveraging technology and maximizing test coverage
- Scalability: Easy accommodation of demand fluctuations
- Access to the latest techniques: Because service providers are consistently investing in upgrading their labs
- Compliance and certification support: Prescribing the necessary procedures for compliance and certification and readying all documents for submission to certification authorities.
Over the last few years, service providers have invested heavily in making this model a success. Examples include Wipro’s Tarang Labs, which provides product qualification and compliance services in diverse areas such as EMI/EMC, mechanical, environmental, reliability, safety, and acoustic testing, and domain-specific labs, such as LTTS’ Autonomous Validation Studio, which offers digital validation of autonomous practices, annotation correction, and image processing in ADAS scenarios. With digitalization on a rise across industries and product segments, we expect demand for third party V&V services to grow. We also expect the technological complexity involved to drive specialization, in turn making these “as-a-service” models emerge as an industry norm over the next few years.