The robot takeover is coming!
But don’t worry. It’s not as bad as you think.
Most of us are familiar with technology taking over aspects of our work, aren’t we?
Accountants have programs that tabulate financial data. Wall Street brokers have programs that make trades for them. Factory/distribution workers have robots that do a lot of heavy lifting for them.
It seems that almost every day, we’re finding ways to use technology to make commerce easier. Innovation is a key component in making progress.
As we rely more and more on technology, it’s been important to find easier ways to ensure that our products and services are high quality. That’s where continuous delivery comes in.
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The Rise of Continuous Delivery Systems
In recent years, software engineers have begun to leverage a process called continuous delivery to perform numerous basic programming functions, massively reducing the manual labor involved in large development projects. Continuous delivery is an automated software process that leverages the computational power of servers to streamline basic programming functions.
In English, that means that it’s a process that enables software to automatically find and fix bugs and problems in a product or website. This means that you won’t have to waste time and energy to find these things yourself.
The Current State of the Development Process
A constant struggle in the development process is testing programs, and fixing bugs. If left to old methods, a programming team would have to develop the software, test it manually, and then go back to the drawing board when things go wrong.
In a worst case scenario that team might actually launch a product, without having discovered a problem only to realize it after the fact. High profile rollout failures of websites and software applications are becoming commonplace and one of the worst things that can happen to a business. Not only does it cost tons of money to fix, it can also damage a company’s reputation.
As someone at the Department of Health and Human Services allegedly said after the failed Obamacare website failure, “I spent $174 million on a website and all I got was this bad press.” Continuous Delivery could make failed rollouts a thing of the past.
Using continuous delivery, computers are able to out-test and out-produce individual human workers. While the human brain remains the most powerful computer to date, it has an issue with scale. Manually clicking through an entire website can take weeks. Not only that, it’s incredibly boring, isn’t it? A computer can perform thousands of tests perfectly and repeatedly in seconds.
An Easier Way to Go to Market
Will Iverson is the Chief Technology Officer for Dev9, a software development firm that is helping to pioneer continuous delivery. He believes that automation can play an important role in simplifying many different functions.
“A lot of software development requires repetitive tasks to be performed by humans, and these can take months. Training intelligent software programs to perform those functions reduces the need for large teams of engineers and increases the speed at which those tasks can be completed,” Iverson explains.
Of course, while these processes are allowing small teams to do more, Iverson does not think software is going to replace human developers outright. “As long as something needs to be interpreted for the computer, some kind of engineer will be needed.”
Continuous delivery could significantly impact the software engineering landscape, which today relies on outsourcing huge volumes of the low level work overseas. Leveraging automation, small U.S.-based teams can perform all or most of the work required, even on the largest projects.
This shift is significant. Most companies have to factor in months for design work. Teams of human designers are slow, make mistakes and can be difficult to manage across numerous countries.
Now, companies that have software needs will be able to get to market faster without worrying about failed rollouts. The current breakneck pace of technology development is getting a shot in the arm, making the marketplace that much more competitive.
What Does This Mean for Business Leaders?
“Businesses that find the process of releasing software updates painful are the ones most in need of continuous delivery,” said Iverson. “Software releases should be really straight-forward. If you are worrying about the software working, you aren’t going to be able to focus on more important things like your customers, marketing and messaging.”
In particular, businesses planning on creating products and services in the Internet of Things would benefit from continuous delivery. Iverson adds, “Since the IoT is built on the effectiveness of servers and networks, continuous delivery is an ideal solution, because it allows companies to update, fix and create reliable services faster.”
Technology is meant to make us more efficient and free us up to do more important work. Continuous delivery and software automation have the potential to free our mental energy and financial resources to tackle even more high-level tasks than we’ve taken on already. Even though robots might replace some jobs, there will be plenty of new ones and new opportunities to take their place. And the world will be better for it.
Robot Photo via Shutterstock