Insights Podcasts The Testing Show: Quality Engineering with Anbu Muppidathi

The Testing Show: Quality Engineering with Anbu Muppidathi

May 19, 2021

It’s our 100th Episode and Qualitest has a new Chief Executive and “Chief Testing” Officer designate in Anbu Muppidathi who joins Matthew Heusser and Michael Larsen to talk about Quality Engineering as a unique discipline and differentiator. How does Quality Engineering go beyond traditional notions of Quality Assurance? Come join us for this milestone episode and find out how COVID helped make the case for quality orchestration and where Qualitest thinks quality is going both now and into the future.















Michael Larsen (INTRO):

Hello and welcome to The Testing Show.

Episode 100.

Quality Engineering.

This show was recorded on May 14, 2021.

This is a special milestone, our 100th Episode and with that, we welcome Anbu Muppidathi to the show to talk about quality Engineering, Quality Orchestration, how COVID has become the Chief Technology Officer of the world and ways in which those changes have moved digital transformation along.

… and with that, on with the show.

Matthew Heusser (00:00):
Hello, and welcome back to a very special episode of The Testing Show. Now, typically we talk about software testing. We talk about bugs and bug hunting and performance and security. And this is all brought to you at no cost sponsored by Qualitest. Every now and again, we have a commercial moment, but it’s relevant because it’s about the business of software testing. I’m sure he’s going to correct me, but at various times has been the largest pure-play privately held software testing company that’s transitioning now into the world’s largest equity-backed software quality company, and we can talk about the business of quality, and there’s a new CEO. So we’ve got the CEO of Qualitest, Anbu Muppidathi, joining us today to talk about what he’s up to, what he’s doing, and where things are going. So welcome to the show, Anbu. So great to have you here.

Anbu Muppidathi (00:58):
Thanks for having me here.

Matthew Heusser (01:00):
And of course, we’ve got Michael Larsen, our show producer, a full panelist, here to talk about where quality is going, and you just joined Qualitest as President and the CEO designate. But before that, you spent a significant amount of time at Cognizant. Why did you want to make the change?

Anbu Muppidathi (01:18):
Well, there are many motivations. First, I’ve got to thank Cognizant and their leaders for the opportunities that I got there. If you look at the major technological and business shifts that happened in the past, such as the year 2000 rollover, the bubble, the financial crisis, and the shift to cloud, artificial intelligence, and digital engineering. And now in the industry, for that role, I was trained very well in stepping up to help our customers, weather the storms. In all of these evolutions, business, technology, and operating models changed. Introducing newer ways for software production and consumption. Anytime when there is a change, quality assurance plays a major role because without quality, change will be meaningless. So I have been very passionate of helping customers advance ways to adopt quality orchestration in their digital transformation journey. And this opportunity came up as the next CEO of Qualitest in transforming our business to next gen quality engineering and eventually quality engineering led digital excellence. And I took it. That was the main reason that I joined the firm. And I’m excited about this.

Matthew Heusser (02:35):
Fantastic. We’re happy to have you here. And you mentioned the market and trends and Qualitest has this opportunity to meet the demands of technology. Can you speak a little bit more to that? And what does that really mean?

Anbu Muppidathi (02:48):
Well, all these years technology has driven many business transformations. So lately technology has become the business. The boundaries between technology and business has blurred long time back. In a situations like this, customers, their demand for industry domain knowledge, technology, capabilities, process understanding, and overall our ability to scale all have become very critical requirements that customers have started expecting from service providers like ourselves. When it comes to trends, especially, we see that, number one, COVID has accelerated the digital progression in the world, digital and customer experience transformations, that continued to drive the capital expenditure spend by our customers. So we expect customers partnering with us in making sure that the digital progression is flawless, impressive, high quality. Secondly, the software production process itself, that has gone through many innovations; Agile, Dev Ops, that have become now very common terms. Life cycle processes have blurred and the world has gotten the taste of cloud and continuous deployment. We have renovated our engagement models through extreme automation to plug well with our customers Agile and DevOps teams in orchestrating quality, in-stream or at the organization level. Thirdly, as customers modernize their applications, SaaS platforms, software as a service and hyperscalers such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud, they all help unlock IT values. That’s a serious trend we see. Unlike application development, platform configurations need a lot more validation than business process knowledge. And we believe that we are uniquely positioned to help our customers. And finally, rick and remote work and recovery, they all are top of the mind for every one of the Chief Executive Officers or Chief Information Officers. Now it’s critical that security and performance it’s all addressed as part of the quality engineering process, the quality engineering helps with shifting this whole security and performance left and assure avoiding bugs, avoiding issues. So that user experience is at its best. So those are some of the common trends that we see and because of those trends, what the customers are demanding.

Michael Larsen (05:33):
I’d like to pick up here if I can. You mentioned something in your reply there that piqued my interest. And I hope you’ll let me segue just a little bit with this. You mentioned quality engineering and that’s an interesting term. I mean, many of us who work in testing are familiar with Quality Assurance Engineering or being Quality Assurance Engineers but I don’t think that’s what you’re saying with that distinction for quality engineering. It sounds to me that this is a definitely different flavor and discipline than what we’re used to hearing. Am I getting that right?

Anbu Muppidathi (06:08):
Yes. Michael, you are getting it right, I think I would pick the one word that you used, “discipline”. That’s the key word here. When we use quality engineering that automatically reminds you that it brings in an engineering discipline to the process. What that means is customers demand and changes all warrant a deep domain knowledge. We need to know the in and out of what is that business problem that the customers are trying to solve? Why are they implementing this software product? That deep domain knowledge is critically important? That’s number one. Number two, the customer has a defined process to adopt that solution. They developed it ground up or they buy and configure it. Irrespective of whether it’s a buy or build. They have a process, even if they don’t have a process, they should have that process that we have helped them define. And the technological knowledge, whenever you say a process, the technology, the technological knowledge is critically important because we need to know what is the technology that they use. What is the methodology that they adopt, that collectively is what the process means. So we need to have a very strong understanding of the technology behind it. Then the process discipline, how do we really approach this problem? Where the problem statement is quality orchestration. So in the process of solving a business problem, using technology, what should be the quality gauge? Where should we test? What should we test? How do we automate? Why should we automate? How do we test the experience, the requirements, the correctness, the completeness, everything. That disciplined approach is what the quality engineering is all about. Testing is critically important. That’s an easy way to understand that you’re validating it, but testing should not undermine the need for looking at everything end to end, both functional and non-functional. Not just the correctness and completeness, but also the experience aspects of it. So everything has to be thought through together. That’s why the word discipline that you used is critically important. And whenever you say discipline, it has to come with those rules and regulations, and that’s why I use the term engineering. That is why quality engineering is a lot more defined, discipline term. And that’s the only way that we are going to make sure that what customers are doing is flawless. It’s not going to impact their brand and it’s going to deliver on their promise. So the disciplined quality engineering approach is critical.

Matthew Heusser (08:49):
Oh, I really like that. In software testing, we spent a whole lot of time in the nineties and the early 2000 saying “you can’t test everything and it’s so hard”. And then we had the Facebook and Twitter effect. It’s okay for it not to work. So to have a leader say, “yeah, we want our customers to have flawless delivery”. That’s a bold statement. I got to say, I like it. Then 2020 hit. Across all of our clients and our lines of business, we’re seeing a lot more remote work. I’m curious how Qualitest was impacted by 2020, more than “everybody worked remote”. And then how has this influenced the plans for 2021? What are we going to do differently from your perspective? How are we going to use this as kind of a Slingshot effect?

Anbu Muppidathi (09:39):
Yes, Matt. See, when COVID hit us end of first quarter last year, there was a lot of panic and fear among our customers that led to optimizing their spend. So the second quarter, last year was an impact. We had some growth challenges, but then the survival instinct that forced our customers to make some quick transformation so that they can quickly pivot to cloud and other collaboration technologies, which brought us back to the growth moment because we were helping them in their adoption of cloud technologies and adoption of collaboration technologies to put to the remote work, remote delivery model. So that created that growthmomrnt of ours. Now a year after, customers are making informed decisions in their plans for a promising future. And we get to partner with them in their quality engineering initiatives and everything is now fantastic. And we are back to growth and back to close partnership and across the globe, we are growing. The market is also very ripe. The quality engineering market is so ripe. Just to give you some statistics. It’s $223 billion in global spend by 2023, which is 10% CAGR over the last five years. Now, Qualitest being a visionary in Gartner Magic Quadrant for the past six years in a row. And now we are the only quality engineering company. That’d be a valid position in the marketplace for growth, our engineering led, AI-driven quality engineering solutions are clear differentiators for us. So we believe that we have the right strategy that is now tested through this growth that we see, even in this tough time. Customer’s transformation journey is inevitable and everyone is now adopting and modernizing their applications, adopting cloud and modernizing their applications and data infrastructure. So in a situation like that, amidst all of these changes, quality engineering is going to play a critical role and we are very well positioned. So we sincerely believe that 2021 started well, it’s fantastic progress so far. And it gives us a very promising future and we are ready to help our customers to take them to the next level.

Matthew Heusser (11:59):
Yeah. So our audience is mostly software testers, test managers, maybe few directors of quality, that sort of thing. I want to pick up on something you said. You said that software testing, and I’m not exactly sure if it’s the outsource test industry or all of testing, but you said $200 billion CAGR, which is “compound annual growth rate”. What is this thing that is $200 billion by 2023?

Anbu Muppidathi (12:25):
The 223 billion includes all of the services, tools and everything connected with the field of quality assurance there in the software industry. So outsource and run inside does not matter. Every spend related to quality assurance is that much.

Matthew Heusser (12:44):
Thank you. So if we’re hearing, “Test is dead. Quality, nobody cares. You’re a dinosaur. You’re going to go away”. You’re betting your business on the data that we’re actually going to see a 10% compound annual growth rate for this particular type of work going forward indefinitely.

Anbu Muppidathi (13:05):
That is correct. I sincerely believe that testing is not dead. The word “quality assurance” may be, but testing is not dead. Testing continues, but it is now modernized. It’s now engineering lead. We are using technology to test technology. The term testing is not dead. How do we do? That has been innovated tremendously. There are smarter ways to test that are extreme automation that are process automation, automation backed by machine learning and artificial intelligence. There are a lot of innovations that we can day-long talk about. So testing is not dead and it’s now done in a very smart way.

Michael Larsen (13:51):
So what I’m hearing here, if I may be so bold is that you’ve got a lot of plans for what’s going to be going forward in 2021, especially with an emphasis on being able to deliver on your quality engineering initiative. Again, I find that really exciting. I’m totally curious to see how that’s going to happen. Let me step back a little bit here. And what are some of the things that you personally and you as Qualitest, how can people understand what you are bringing to the table with this quality engineering initiative and how are you planning on leveraging that to make a difference in 2021 and beyond?

Anbu Muppidathi (14:35):
First of all, Qualitest is in the business of quality engineering for the past 24 years. It has grown significantly by serving thousands of customers in the past. Now all these years, the company has researched, developed, and helped customers all in the space of testing and quality assurance. Such a dedicated focus that has given quality test and unparalleled advantage when it comes to leading our customers in their journey to superior customer experience. Now I saw Qualitest has all the foundational strengths of customer centricity, a unique value proposition that our quality engineering, fantastic collaborative culture that makes the company a learning organization. And most importantly, a very loyal, innovative and young workforce that go get things done for us. Now that’s who we are as a company. Now, if you really look at that focus, that dedication and the research that has given a unique vision to us as a company, and we want to be the preferred quality orchestrator for our customers. An orchestrator, by definition, is a trained professional on all aspects of the event. And culturally be aligned to the audience. Only then you can orchestrate. When it comes to testing, we can’t orchestrate quality without us knowing the industry domain technology and integrities of the process that I talked about earlier. We have that unique capability as a company. And so we gotta’ be that preferred quality orchestrator for our customers. That’s our vision. Now it’s even more important when it comes to these drastic changes that we see all around us. The whole world was in an unchartered territory when COVID hit last year, but now COVID has become the chief digital officer for every company in the world. Digital adoption has accelerated, aligning the remote culture that all industries and consumers have developed. In a drastic change like that technology is playing a critical role in connecting the producers to the consumers. When we have solid domain and technology capabilities, we got the chance to help our customers in their transformation journey. That’s how we become the preferred quality orchestrator. So the short answer to your question is as we continue to demonstrate our maturity in the domain knowledge technology capabilities and the procedural knowledge, we get to be that preferred quality orchestrator. That’s what I expect us to do in the current year and in the future. All these years of experience and the focus and our dedication to the field of quality engineering, that positions us well, we have got a unique capability to be that extra couple of steps ahead of our customers to learn first, experiment first, and go and advise our customers what to do, how to do, and thereby we can make stronger relationships with our customers and make a symbiotic relationship in the future.

Matthew Heusser (17:50):
So you use this term orchestrator. And when I hear orchestrator of quality, I hear a wide variety of services, all sort of under one umbrella. So we can resolve all the issues. We’re not just functional testing. We’re not just security. We’re going to make sure it’s going to work for the customers, if you’ll excuse my tone of voice. We want to provide that flawless experience. And if there’s a risk in there somewhere we’ll help you resolve it. That might be part of the reason for the activity that I’m picking up in my email chain about all the acquisitions that have been happening. I know in the past 12 months there’s been several different acquisitions of companies that offer complimentary services. So now Qualitest is more than it was a year ago, which is more than it was when we started the show three or four years ago now. Can you speak about some of those changes that have been happening?

Anbu Muppidathi (18:51):
Yes. There are a lot of changes and you can expect a lot from us and you will see us shifting our focus from that pure play testing to quality engineering, to digital engineering excellence. You will see our solutions and workforce demonstrate a broad understanding of the industry and the technology and the deep capabilities in quality engineering. Now, when we have this broad understanding of industry and technology, with a deep understanding of quality engineering, that’s a T-shaped model I would probably call out and such a T-shaped model will help us prod well with our customers’ business technical and operating model. So that’s a major change that effective service providers make, and we are included in it. So as we demonstrate an integrated quality engineering value proposition to our customers, you will also see us demonstrating an automation first mindset in everything that we do. We have a formal center of excellence for automation, cybersecurity, performance, and by putting a focused effort on these capabilities that will help us demonstrate excellence in the technology assurance space, but we all know that deep industry domain knowledge is critically important. As we demonstrate the technology values through that understanding of the domain capabilities that we have, that’s how we shift that technology assurance to business assurance. That’s the way that we add more value to our services, not just pure play technology capabilities, but superior domain understanding industry knowledge, demonstrated through our service. That’s how we shift technology assurance to business assurance. Now we already announced the three acquisitions in the past three months, we announced a QA Infotech in India that brings us scale and excellence in India. On top of our existing India capabilities. Olenick, we announced that last month, that brings strong domain capabilities in utilities industries and improves our presence in South America. A third that we announced two weeks back, Comply, that brings in the biopharma industry capabilities and associated technology capabilities. You will continue to see us announcing more and more MNA activities that are targeted for niche capabilities and capacities. Now, all of these, if I can summarize, we are known in the industry for our quality engineering value proposition. We have a unique space. We are a visionary in Gartner’s magic quadrant. We have been serving thousands of customers in the past 24 years, and we have invested our time, energy, money in building more and more technology capabilities, domain capabilities, and process maturity. And in the COVID time, we get a chance to demonstrate our values through many of these digital acceleration efforts that our customers are doing. And we continuously have built our capabilities in modern technologies like cloud platforms. AI, data, et cetera, all these coupling that with these targeted MNA capabilities that brings in new capabilities and new capacities to us. We make our company stronger purely in the spirit of us helping our customers so that we can be resourceful to them. We can be the true advisors to them and the learning and the cultural alignment that we have demonstrated over the years with our customers clearly qualify us to be the quality orchestrator. Now, that is one thing that we have to understand. You started the question that the word orchestrator. The orchestrator is not an individual. It’s representing a large ecosystem of these… musicians, if it is a music event. it’s a partnership. It’s an ecosystem. As long as we know where to bring in that partnership, how to take advantage of our strong partners and our platform, in our partnership ecosystem, the platform of all partners. If we can go bring the right partners where there is a need for very unique and niche capability, that will be lot valuable to the customer. So we are not alone. No one can individually solve the complex business problems. The future is for platforms. The future is a ecosystem, not individuals. So we believe in that ecosystem, we believe in the network effect. We believe in that collective wisdom that we and our partners have and co-create value with our customers. As long as we do it, orchestrator would do a great job because the orchestrator would know where to bring value, who to pull in, how to design it, how to bring in the right people at the right time and deliver value. We believe that we can do it because that’s what we are doing now for 24 years, all these years of experience will tremendously help us. And that’s how this preferred quality orchestration work out in our minds.

Michael Larsen (24:18):
Anbu, thank you so much. I know I’m kind of stepping over Matt on this one, cause he usually does this, but I just wanted to kind of jump in here and say, when we typically do these podcasts, one of the last things that we encourage, kind of the “elevator pitch”, I guess is the way to say it. If you had one thing you wanted to make sure that everybody who’s listening to this podcast walks away with, as in, “Oh yeah, that’s cool. I need to either know more about this or that’s where I’m going to go with this”. What do you want to make absolutely sure they just go, “yeah, I got that!”

Anbu Muppidathi (24:55):
You know, we talked all this time, the changes that have happened all around us, we talked about technological changes, advancements in industries. We use the jargons like artificial intelligence, machine learning and all of that. But amidst all these changes, there’s one thing that has always remained constant. 50 years back, 40 years back, 20 years back, now. And I sincerely believe that that will be constant 20, 30 years from now. And that is the ultimate objective of why we’re doing this testing or quality engineering or quality assurance. The fundamental value proposition of assurance or testing was, “are we doing it cheaper? Is cost good? Is it quality Good? It’s time to market okay? Customer experience okay?” Cost, quality, time to market, and customer experience, were the value proposition of testing or quality engineering in the past. The same are the value proposition now. Today we are testing and doing all these quality engineering activities purely because of the same things. Are we getting it done within the cost allocated quality time to market and customer experience? 10 years from now, we’ll be doing the same thing. So the ultimate end goal has not changed. The metrics may have changed. The techniques may have changed, but the ultimate objective has not changed. And it’s actually something beautiful because anytime when you know that the end goal has not changed, innovation should be easier. There’s a lot more innovation that we can make it happen because the end goal is the same thing. Now, people may be more talking about customer experience now than some of the other parameters because customer experience is critically important in a remote work, remote delivery, remote selling, remote e-commerce world. Cost may take a back seat. People may be willing to spend more to get a much superior customer experience. So the order of priority could be different, but it’s the same old four items as our end goal. It’s such a beautiful thing that makes this feel so unique, so exciting, because when you know that that’s the goalpost, you can innovate your ways. We have used terms like quality engineering, process, maturity and domain knowledge, but everything has to eventually meet the customer’s definition. Not our definition, not your definition. Customer’s definition of quality, customer’s definition of experience. It’s fascinating for our quality engineers to sit and think about what would my customer want, not the guys who built the software, not the guys who are testing it, not the guys who spend money on it. It’s the customers. And the customer are very global in nature. And business has reached now in the COVID world. The businesses reach has become global. The people that are sitting in one continent are selling their products in the far, most coordinate, customers are global, but understanding what that customer would expect in my e-commerce platform, how this payment will happen, What would be the experience the customer would get when they get a receipt from the system that their transaction is completed, how would that customer experience be designed? It’s fascinating to sit and visualize and design that and test it, simulating the customer environment and testing it. That’s a fascinating field. So your end post is the same. The methods you can innovate any way that you want. It’s fascinating to put the human element in the testing aspects. So don’t think engineering is completely mechanical and discipline means no innovation. The discipline and the engineering all is to add to the field of imagination, think and visualize what these individuals who are the end customers are going to expect. And it’s a mix of both the science and the art and the world of imagination. It’s phenomenal. And that’s what I would leave away this podcast viewers to think about.

Michael Larsen (29:18):
Excellent. Thank you very much.

Matthew Heusser (29:20):
Thank you, Anbu. I’m just tickled. At Qualitest, the Chief Testing Officer is the CEO, and I think that’s something to celebrate. You’ve got a business focus but that business focus is serving the customer and the way you serve the customer is you meet their needs, which is to provide the quality. So I’m just super excited that not only did you find time for this, but this was a priority. You told us you were going to be on the show. So thank you. I really appreciate it.

Anbu Muppidathi (29:50):
Thank you for having me.

Michael Larsen (29:52):
And thank you very much for joining us.

Michael Larsen (OUTRO):
That concludes this episode of The Testing Show.

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