UK Analyst Firm Says Software Testing Tools Critical For E-Commerce

London-based Ovum, an independent research and consulting company, has released a report stating that companies engaged in e-commerce need to shift to a reliance on software testing tools for evaluating the quality and integrity of in-house developed applications.

“The speed, transaction volume and lack of human sanity checks of transaction-based Web applications mean that any processing errors can be quickly compounded, potentially resulting in huge financial losses,” said the company. “Poorly performing Web sites can lose business very quickly.”

The Brave New World of E-Commerce

According to the report — “Ovum Evaluates: Software Testing Tools” — the practice of relying on customers as unpaid testers should no longer be acceptable. The biggest and most visible sector of the software testing tool market has been concerned with Y2K remediation efforts, but Ovum sees Web applications as being “the main driver of growth” in the near future.

“Software testing is part of a business’ insurance policy, and this becomes obvious in the brave new world of e-commerce,” commented Graham Titterington, lead analyst at Ovum. “It’s suicide for companies to ignore the dangers lurking in untested software.”

Fleeting Opportunities

“Most of the major online share dealing services have had significant downtime this year, because of software errors — that really brings home to you the sort of financial loss involved,” added Titterington.

E-commerce is growing at exponential rates and, according to Ovum’s numbers, companies are beginning to turn to software testing tools — there is an annual market growth of 30%. Currently valued at $450 million (US$) — a figure that is inclusive of maintenance, tool support and training — the company predicts the market will rise to $2.3 billion by 2004.

A number of key players have been identified, including Compuware, Mercury Interactive, Rational Software and Segue, who collectively make up some 60% of the market. According to Ovum, the Y2K issue represented an opportunity for the market to gain more visibility than it actually received.

“Y2K raised general awareness of the need for software testing,” said Titterington. “The industry will have a higher profile in the future, despite missed opportunities this time around.”

Is E-Commerce Killing Competition?

In a report issued earlier this year — “Business-to-Business Electronic Commerce: Opening the Market” — Ovum analyst Heather Stark stated that “far from opening the market, business-to-business electronic commerce will be driven by a renaissance in closed trading communities.”

Stark added that “a substantial portion of business-to-business trading will migrate to closed networks over the next five years. Limiting the domain of a market, in terms of participants, is necessary in the short term in order for online markets to be organized, and run effectively.”

About Ovum

Established in 1985, Ovum offers expert advice on IT, new media and telecommunications issues. Information about obtaining individual copies of Ovum reports or subscriptions are available through the company’s Web site.

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