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How Test Automation Enables Sustainability Development in Video Services

Poornima Urs

Head of QAE

July 11, 2023


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Life on Earth is a beautiful ecosystem which is continuously evolving and going through different changes and challenges that are the result of natural and man-made phenomena. Global challenges such as the pandemic, climate change and geo-political conflicts lead to economic pressures, disruption of business models and frequent cybersecurity threats. They also provide business leaders with opportunities to chart new growth paths. While in the past, a consequence of growth may have been the creation of social, financial and digital divides, there is now recognition that this is not acceptable, and that equitability and inclusivity must be improved for all. Moreover, it must be done in a sustainable manner, so that it benefits not only the current, but also future generations.

Many corporations now align their business roadmaps with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which is creating a wave of actions to end poverty, inequality and protect the planet. The UN SDGs recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must happen conjointly with improving health and education, reducing inequality, and boosting economic growth, all while at the same time, tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

The role of technology and media in sustainable development

Technology has emerged as a potential tool that can be leveraged to help achieve these aims. We recognize the important role that technology has to play in all of this, and we work to support customers in the media industry and leverage technology to make a positive difference. There’s little doubt that the media industry has the potential to make a huge impact on our habits, attitudes, beliefs, and our well-being, as well as how we behave as a society. This places a big responsibility on media organizations to lead from the front, driving forward sustainable, equitable and inclusive initiatives.

There are many examples of leading media companies that are trying to make a positive impact. British broadcast TV network, ITV, for example aims to create and promote content that is positive and uplifting, with a focus on issues that matter to its viewers. Its goal is to have 200 million actions by the UK public to improve their mental or physical health by the end of 2023. Sweden’s main online marketplace, Schibsted’s Blocket, participated in White Monday in 2019, an initiative launched as a counter movement to Black Friday, one of the biggest consumer sales days of the year. Conversely, White Monday encourages people to buy used rather than new goods. Initiatives like Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign to reduce use of single use plastic and the British TV channel, Channel 4’s commitment to be an anti-racist organization are further examples of media organizations taking action to make a positive impact.

Of course, it’s not just the mainstream B2C media organizations who have a responsibility to impact positive environmental and social change. All parts of the media and video ecosystem share that same responsibility, right through to the testing element of applications and software development.


Quality assurance and testing

Quality of experience is of utmost importance for the media industry. Validation and assurance of experience of video services across various platforms such as smart TVs, games consoles, set top boxes, as well as mobile and web, is critical. A key component of quality assurance is manual testing across all relevant platforms. But unfortunately, manual testing is not only very tedious for the individuals and teams involved, it also contributes towards the environmental impact of the product.

Let’s break this down. Typically, manual testing will involve hundreds of devices being tested so energy usage to run these devices and associated equipment and stream video content is considerable. Another consideration is the energy consumption resulting from the transfer of data by clients and servers. Environmental impact at testing level also depends on factors such as the number of people involved to perform a task and the resources used by each individual. When thinking about environmental impact at these levels, although it may currently be difficult to get an accurate picture of the carbon emissions associated with all of these activities, we are starting to see progress as the industry begins to work together on defining standards for carbon accounting. This is all the more reason to spend time thinking and talking about it.

With technology, efficiency is usually of utmost importance, alongside cost and performance. We need to revolutionize the way we work and reduce work friction, where work is unnecessarily hard, by removing repetitive tasks. This is where test automation comes in as a sustainable technology. By introducing this at Accedo, we’re trying to reduce the environmental impact that the QA and testing has, while making the work environment equitable and inclusive for all involved.

We’ve found that by carrying out test automation using a cloud-based device farm, which is essentially a testing environment that enables remote testing on a variety of devices, we’ve been able to reduce the number of new devices we’ve had to purchase, as well as reduce the need for physical infrastructure. With this way of working, we don't need our own dedicated hardware to enable test automation, but rather use specific software which can be accessed remotely, and from anywhere. By automating many of the repetitive tasks that would normally have been done manually, we’ve reduced work friction for QA engineers. Test automation is also an incredibly efficient way of working, and has also contributed to faster project deliveries and reduced costs.

From a workforce perspective, it has also enabled remote working and helped us to promote diversity when hiring. Unlike manual testing, test automation can be done remotely, from anywhere, using device farms. When recruiting, the pool of potential candidates is widened, making it easier to recruit a diverse workforce. The flexibility associated with remote working reduces discrimination because it helps to level the playing field for many groups who may otherwise be excluded. Test automation can also improve employee retention because staff are trained to understand new concepts, and supported to learn new skills. Upskilling employees can help to retain talent.  


Adding value through test automation

Furthermore, by implementing test automation, there is an opportunity to add additional value in a number of ways. Through automation and using the right set of test cases to check bias in algorithms, data processing models and decision making systems, it’s possible to identify instances of racism and gender parity. It can also be used to help check the media content in video services to help ensure they reflect diverse voices and experiences in society. Tools such as EqualVoice and organizations like Political Watch can help media companies to achieve these aims. 

Test automation can also be used for user centric testing because it allows for a broader and more diverse range of users with different needs, preferences and abilities. Automation makes it possible to remotely connect to carry out testing, so it’s easier to engage a more diverse range of users, including those with disabilities, in the testing process. Their feedback helps to ensure that video services are built to cater for a broad range of users, with differing needs.  Additionally, it can also focus on different languages, cultures and countries, which is beneficial because media and video services are usually released in multiple languages and countries.

Video services are typically highly dynamic in nature and need to be adaptable based on user feedback and constant changes as required by key stakeholders. It’s also important that they promote inclusivity. Test automation has the potential to support this because it enables a much more diverse set of user requirements to be addressed throughout the entire software development life cycle.

Additionally, automation can also help extend accessibility testing to check if a video service is accessible to people with disabilities such as visual, audio and cognitive impairment. This type of testing is an important part of improving inclusivity.

It’s generally accepted that test automation increases the quality of applications because it reduces bugs and defects. In this way, it can also contribute to making sure that technology can be trusted by businesses and consumers to provide equitable opportunities and experiences.  


While it’s true that test automation requires some initial investment, in the longer run, it saves money and is much more affordable compared to manual testing. It is therefore worth considering for any company who wants to deliver quality to end users in the most efficient way. Technology and sustainability go hand-in-hand and test automation is another tool that could help the media industry build more sustainable products and services. Prioritized investment in sustainable technology has the potential to help keep employees engaged, increase financial performance, provide new opportunities for growth, and at the same time, create positive change.

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