Accenture and Applause announce strategic partnership

Consultancy firm invests in crowdsourced testing provider in $35 million round of funding. Applause’s vice president of marketing, Peter Blair (pictured), explains how the partnership got started and what the future holds.

Consulting firm Accenture has cemented its strategic partnership with the US crowdsourced testing provider Applause with an acquisition of a minority stake in the company. Though no financial details of the deal with Accenture were made public, Applause raised $35 million in its latest round of funding, a part of which came from Accenture’s investment.

Applause is one of the pioneering companies in the space of crowdsourced testing, a practice that makes use of makes use of a geographically distributed network of freelancers to test applications and websites. Using crowdsourced testing, companies can source a large amount of testers very quickly. The other key advantage is that crowd-testing can be used to employ a geographically-focused group of testers to ensure that region-specific features are tested correctly.

Peter Blair, vice president of marketing at Applause, said that the collaboration with Accenture began a little over a year ago when Accenture approached his firm on behalf of one of their clients that wanted to test a payments app. “This was a customer doing e-commerce in Asia, specifically Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan. They wanted to figure out what payment instruments made sense to use with their app in the region,” said Blair.

Applause tested the app on Accenture’s behalf using a number of different digital wallets to find the most effective payments system for that market. Applause sourced testers in the region who put their own credit instruments in a digital wallets, made small purchases, and then reported back on the transaction.

Blair said that the trial went so well that Accenture started to regularly turn to the crowdsourced testing provider. “The customer was very happy. The asked for crowdsourced testing in different regions. At that point Accenture started too look at other customers who they felt could benefit from our approach.”

Is there potential for crowdsourced testing beyond the development of mobile apps and other retail-facing products? Yes, says Shalini Chaudhari, Accenture’s managing director in charge of EALA testing services. “We believe that crowdsourcing complements our comprehensive testing services, which is why we’ve formed an alliance with Applause, a leader in this space. We foresee that we will see financial firms taking it up as the customer demand for an enhanced user experience continues to increase.” she said.

“By 2018, 80% of development organizations supporting digital transformation will incorporate crowdsourcing into their projects as a regular practice according to IDC and financial firms will not be an exception. In addition to the digital services, crowdtesting could be used to test systems that cater to a diverse set of user base. For example, testing certain aspects of advisory services that are being built on cognitive and machine learning technologies and are aimed at providing better customer experience.”

Chaudhari added: ”Crowdsourced testing also fits with the concept of the liquid workforce and the need financial firms have to scale up testing resources on a project by project basis.”

Applause’s Blair said that going forward it would cooperate with Accenture over account planning. In some cases the consultancy would manage the client relationship, but Applause would continue to retain its own direct sales approach.

Applause is a sponsor of the QA Financial Forum: New York. If you are interested in attending, get in touch with Jade Mitchell, head of content, on her email address: [email protected].

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