Category Archives: IT

Crypto currency and market capitalisation

Over the past months I became interested in the possibilities that crypto currencies have to offer. At first I became interested in the idea that crypto currency could play an important role in (international) money transfers, replacing traditional currency like dollar, euro and pound and replace traditional bank-to-bank transferring methods. At the same time I realised that  there still are causes that will prevent crypto currencies to become intensively used in money transferring.

The crypto currency market, especially the one for Bitcoin has known many up and down swings over the years since its introduction in 2009. Although there were some near-meltdowns along its path over the years, 2017 proved to be a kind of ‘break through’ year where the price half way 2017 soared from $ 1.000  to $ 3.000. The potential prospect of soon to be realised gains for simply holding on to ones crypto currencies will create an effect where the owners of their crypto currencies rather not want to use them in transferring scenarios. Yet if the owner of a crypto currency would want to use his digital cash for transferring purposes he or she will be faced with many complications. There are still relatively few people (ask the ones around you)  owning an ewallet which would allow them to receive or send digital cash. There is no way that different types of crypto currencies are interchangeable. And last but not least there are few (web) shops that accept crypto currencies for paying goods or services.

When diving in the technology behind the crypto currency you will find the block chain technology that can be considered as a transparant, autonomous and highly secure way of storing  data. The comparison to a world wide operating virtual ledger or spreadsheet is often made. The blockchain technology is what drives and enables crypto currency but blockchain technology can actually be applied for many other purposes.

We are witnessing a revolutionary way in which administrative (economical) processes will be changing over the coming years and decades. The concept can even be applied to concepts beyond administrative processes (for example to identity management and asset registration). Without going into detail too deep in the underlying technology we will witness the emerge of an autonomous, transparant, de-centralized infrastructure that offer possibilities in which we currently are using banks, clearing institutes, accountancy and administrative firms to perform most of these activities. With blockchain technology all these activities come under one roof, but without the boundaries and middle men that are usually associated with those activities.

If you look at the developments from this perspective than investing in Bitcoin, Ethereum or one the hundreds of alternative altcoins becomes like investing in a company -like investing in stock-, although lacking the traditional centralized management that we usually associate with the ‘traditional’ companies. It then becomes obvious that the market capitalization of (for example) Ethereum does signal something about its economic relevance and may be compared to those traditional companies. That is why 2017 also saw the break through of ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings) which somewhat can be compared to the virtual launch of an IPO (Initial Public Offering), the most usual way for a company that is going public by issuing stock and entering the stock market.

Let’s take for example a ‘traditional’ company, Apple, which had in June a market capitalisation of app. $ 675 billion, making it the company with the largest market capitalisation in the world. Ethereum had at the same time a market capitalisation of approximality $ 30 billion. So Apple as a 40 year old company producing computer related products and services is at the moment 20x the size of Ethereum, a highly advanced initiative that takes the Bitcoin blockchain technology to the next level with its abilities of incorporating development tools in its own block chain technology.

From such a perspective  it is justified to believe that Ethereum one day will become bigger than Apple, measured by its market capitalisation because its added economical value will become at least as significant as Apple’s (and probably much more important). It may be tempting to make calculations about what the pricing of one Ether (Ethereum’s crypto currency) could be like in such a scenario, but one can assume that the current price of ca. $300 is just a fragment of its pricing potential. Others have been less witholding about their predictions about what the the pricing for crypto currencies could become like.

All in all investing in crypto currencies is at the moment more like earning a stake in a promising new technology enabled by an initiative that could be typed as a ‘virtual’ company. The traditional lines between stock and currency are blurring as you might one day use that stake (your Ethers, Bitcoins or other altcoins) for actually using it as digital cash. And that would be something that would be impossible to do with regular stock from the ‘traditional’ companies.

On the other hand take in consideration that this whole blockchain industry is still in its very early stages. The pricing of the crypto currencies are extremely volatile, because nobody really knows where things are heading. There is always the probability that reading this article in three years time the content seems to be out of date because the playing field has completely changed.

If you want to have a good introduction to crypto currencies and blockchain technology I advise you to read and see the following links:

6 interesting introduction videos:

Watch all six episodes of the series Trust Disrupted: Bitcoin and the Blockchain

Vilarik Buterin (the inventor of Ethereum) explaining Ethereum:

https://coincenter.org/entry/what-is-ethereum

The future of the test manager in IT projects

Now that 2016 is coming to an end, I share with you some observations I made in the past year concerning testing in IT projects. At first glance these observations seem disconnected, but I started to realise that they were forebodes of general developments in the IT world and will also have their impact on IT testing and the role of the test manager. Connecting the observations also shed some light for me on how a test manager can stay afloat in a rapidly changing IT landscape.

The first observation was that during meetings participants very often mentioned they were busy testing and measuring by the number of times they mentioned it, these testing activities seemed to take a considerable amount of their time and effort and could be considered an integral part of their daily job activities. Yet these testing activities were not (always) part of their job description or project role. It could be that these testing activities were not mentioned or recognized in a test plan, let alone be known in advance to the test manager.

The second observation was that a lot of focus in IT testing is geared towards aligning testing activities with developments around continuous delivery and iterative development. The result of these new developments is that more and more energy within companies is geared towards working ‘agile’ and subsequently test automation becomes a hot and interesting subject, partly because a lot of the testing work now directly comes into the hands of the developers.

The test manager should have or develop a fine radar to pick up the signals about project members running their own tests. Not in a negative manner as if the test manager missed out on something in his planning phase but by understanding that testing is a very natural way of how humans make progress and how the human mind works. So testing is a basic human quality that enables us to get forward with IT projects and the test manager will never (nor has to) be able to catch all the testing activities during the IT project or in advance during the planning phase.

The tester on the other hand might not always be completely aware of the significance of the testing activities. He or she may think that the result of the test is not essential for the progress of the project (other stakeholders might hold a different opinion). Then there are two other effects that the test manager needs to be aware of. First, if the test was performed to see if the idea (or read: service, product, piece of code) works and the test is negative, then the tester might get shy to communicate the failure of the tests. It becomes personal and therefore not an experience to share broadly and be proud of.

If the test result was positive the tester could boast about the results, while the test might have a not too big relevance for the final outcome of the IT project. This is where the importance of the test manager is at stake. He is one of the few project members with the necessary objectivity who can valuate these ‘under the radar’ tests within the project and determine the attention they need as well as the level and range in which these test results should be communicated.

Gone are the days when the test manager could write his impressive test plan (that only few would read from beginning to end) and gone are the days when the test manager could claim time slots to execute with his team the carefully designed and well prepared test cases.

So what is the connection between the first and the second observation? With the current developments in IT projects, the test manager will no longer be able to completely influence or comprehend all test activities within an IT project before the project starts. For a test manager to be successful within a project, the test manager will have to develop a sensitivity to the signals about on going and intended test activities.

The number of implicit tests within IT projects appeal to elementary human qualities that are essential for progress in general and in our case progress within the IT project. They stimulate the participation of the tester, yet there needs to be an independent source who eventually can judge, evaluate and inform about these tests. The outcome of this process will determine how the test manager can support the testers (with necessary facilities and resources) and how information about the test results could be distributed among the stakeholders. These will be important features for the test manager to survive in an IT industry dominated by rapid changes in methodologies and views concerning the deliverance of IT projects. He can rely less and less on his own plans and methods but will have to bring the information from test results in the projects to the surface.