I recently came across a very interesting term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller called “Ephemeralization”. It is the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing.”
Those of us who are in the technology business can certainly relate to this. Not only can we do more with less, but also the rate of doing more with less is increasing at an unprecedented pace.
All this is well and good, unless of course you have the unfortunate task of managing the increasing complexity and the blistering pace of change that is associated with ephemeralized systems. The inability to do this effectively, not to mention the resultant stress, can negate all of the advantages of ephemeralization.
You could, however, use ephemeralization to manage ephemeralization, right? I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, but it seems to me that in most IT departments, the process of managing change, especially testing is still mostly a manual task despite the fact that the underlying systems are growing in complexity exponentially.
Let’s take a typical SAP landscape for example. Not only do you have to deal with the core SAP ERP application, but you now have a whole series of other add-on applications like CRM, SRM, SCM, PLM, etc. Layer business intelligence applications on top of that and a slew of non-SAP/legacy applications that interface with SAP and you have a more heterogeneous environment than ever before. To complicate matters even further, SAP plans to accelerate the pace of enhancements and include both incremental and “breakthrough” functionality by adopting an agile approach. Last but not least, all of this needs to be deployed globally while taking into account country specific needs. You now have all the makings of ephemeralization complexity!
If that’s not stressful, I’m not sure what is. So how do you manage change in such an environment and make sure you deliver innovation to the business at internet speed? Unfortunately for most organizations today, testing as well as change management is still largely a manual ad hoc process that consumes too much time and resources and is typically done poorly with very limited traceability and very little comprehensive coverage. Test automation, if it exists, covers just a fraction (less than 10%-20%) of the overall testing needs. Effective use of automation as well as a fundamentally different approach using end-to-end business process testing and impact analysis can significantly alter the existing state of affairs in a very positive way.
Being in the ephemeralization tools business ourselves, may we suggest a second look at the proposition of using ephemeralization to manage ephemeralization?