In the movie “The Social Network,” the Facebook website nearly crashes and Mark Zuckerberg (played by the actor Jesse Eisenberg) exclaims to his business partner: “Let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everybody else: we don’t crash ever! If the servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed. Users are fickle.”
Customers demand ease of use and responsiveness of services and products, and if they’re not satisfied they will vent on social media. In many cases, the criticism can go viral. Corporate reputations are tarnished before a company even realizes that there is a crisis.
In this high-stakes business context, whose responsibility is it to ensure the reliability of services and products, and uphold a company’s reputation? The CIO, CDO or CMO? Application development? Service providers? Infrastructure or operations? The answer is all of the above, but an often times overlooked or missing stakeholder is the quality assurance (QA) leader.
In a survey of 1,560 CIOs and IT and testing leaders from 32 countries for our annual World Quality Report (WQR), “protecting the corporate image” was identified as the highest strategic priority, with an average score of 6.1 (on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being most important). The report examines the state of application quality and testing practices across multiple industries and geographies.
Protecting reputation is becoming a higher priority for testing leaders because organizations are re-prioritizing testing activities to focus on digital initiatives, and most new QA and testing development is spent on customer-facing channels such as mobile and front office solutions. 
This year’s survey found that of the testing budget for new developments, 53 percent is consumed by new digital technology solutions – mobile, cloud, business intelligence and business analytics. Compare this with the 17 percent consumed by testing for other front office solutions, and 29 percent for ERP and legacy back office solutions. The majority (35 percent) of budget dedicated to new digital technology solutions is spent on mobile and front office (customer channel) solutions. This is indicative of the growing importance of mobile, and the need to deliver a seamless experience for a customer as they interact with a company on multiple platforms. 
A number of different people and departments are responsible for protecting the corporate image, and testing leaders are increasingly becoming a critical orchestrator of the process. In the WQR, “increase quality awareness among all disciplines” was listed as the second highest strategic priority among testing and QA leaders.
The challenge for these leaders is measuring testing’s impact on digital initiatives and innovation. These leaders have made strides in this area, and there has been a ripple effect for firms like Capgemini. As testing and QA leaders become more accountable for driving innovation, Capgemini is rethinking how it structures its testing engagements in order to clearly show ROI. Visit my blog next week for a post on this topic.

David Newberry is a market development executive at Capgemini and is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He can be reached at Connect with him on LinkedIn.