Labs blog
VINT updates

New Report: The Bot Effect

boteffect_coverDuring the F8 developers’ congress on 12 April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, disclosed that he was routinely using ‘bots’ – smart software applications – on Facebook Messenger. According to Zuckerberg Messenger is now sizeable enough to embed it in a new ecosystem. Apart from friends and family, we can now also use this platform to have conversations with artificial ‘friends’. These so-called friends are services that are being offered by businesses in particular.

Many people may still find it difficult to conceptualize ‘brand as a friend’, but the underlying idea is perfectly clear: Facebook aims to reap the fruits of the popularity of messaging by allowing bots to be implemented on the platform. The fact is that on a monthly basis more than 900 million people are active on the Messenger platform, while on a global scale almost 3 billion people are chatting every day – not just via Facebook Messenger, but also via other chat applications, such as WhatsApp, Line, WeChat and Kik.

This strategic action by Facebook may definitely be called remarkable. Even more striking is the fact that thirteen days earlier Microsoft had announced the very same thing. During the Build congress on 31 March 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella communicated that the company’s new strategy was to be based on robots and chat platforms. ‘Conversation as a platform’, as Nadella phrased it. Nadella explains that artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots is ‘the next big thing’, just as important as the introduction of the web browser, the graphic user interface and the touchscreen.

The idea that bots are going to play a major role on messenger platforms in everyday life, is central in this report. Although it is still difficult at this stage to gain a comprehensive view of the impact, it is perfectly clear that we are talking about a fundamental shift in the way organizations and customers will conduct their business.

You can download the report for free over here.

People: The Key To Success In A Project

people the key to success

As a tester, I have been involved in several software projects. Most of them have been successful, but I have also lived the other side of the story. Speaking from my own experience, I can say that there are different factors that can determine the success or the failure of a project:

  • Tools
  • Processes
  • Techniques and methodologies
  • Available technologies
  • Planning

Nevertheless, no matter how important those factors might be, the key that determines the success of a project is the team of people responsible for its fulfillment. In the end, software is made by people, not by machines. This seems pretty obvious, but [Read more…]

Ivan the Terminator

Will the revival of artificial intelligence lead to a new cold war? The Pravda reported recently that this “Iron Man” should replace humans in battle. The Russians are catching up…

DevOps: Making Value Flow

As we will have realized by now, DevOps is not a goal. It is merely a means (even better, a mindset) to achieve high-performance teams and organizations. DevOps enables cross-functional (x-silo) collaboration in and between your teams to support a continuously improving digital value chain. As a matter of fact, I rather speak of Value Flow than DevOps. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter how you call it. As long as you achieve your goal. So if it’s high-performance teams we want to achieve, which path leads us there?

I would say the path to high-performance has two axes: Value and Flow. If both value and flow are executed and adopted effectively, you will achieve high-performance. If there’s no flow in the team, but value is high, the organization will lack innovative power and feel bureaucratic. A team delivering low value, but high flow, focus on the wrong work, leading to burnout. A team without both flow and value is bound to become extinct.



So how can a team, or team-of-teams, deliver high value outcomes? [Read more…]

Viv’s Secret Sauce: automating the automators

Dag Kittlaus co-created Siri and now he presented something better.  Yesterday at the Techcrunch Disrupt event he showed a life demo of ‘conversational commerce’. A term coined by Chris Messina of Uber. Kittlaus took his phone and said things like “Pay Adam for the beers of yesterday”, and in a split second it was done. You might argue that Amazon Echo  could do the same (if their API talks with ‘Venmo’, the microservice that Viv is using). But  forget about the compeScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 09.10.55tition between Cortana, Watson, Echo, Siri and Viv. What  is pretty amazing is shown in the slide left, when Kittlaus opened the curtains behind the interface. Viv is building a software program in real time, including the representation, each time a question is asked.

“When it understands intent of user, it generates a program as needed,” Kittlaus said. This is Viv’s secret sauce: Dynamic Program Generation. “Instead of having to write every code instructed, you’re really just describing what you want it to do,” said Kittlaus. “The whole idea of Viv is that developers can go in and build any experience that they want.

Here you can watch the whole demo:

How To Improve Your Apps?

Building great apps and achieving high ratings isn’t easy. Developing apps require new skills in different fields of expertise as I have already explained in one of my earlier blog posts. But how can you improve once your apps have been pushed out to the stores? There are many ways to find improvements for your apps and analyzing your feedback loop could be good starting point.

Collecting feedback is an important activity as it will help you prioritizing on app improvements in your product roadmap and release planning. This feedback can be used to support your business case for necessary changes and updates. And this is crucial to obtain budget for new releases and keep on innovating your app. There is not an unlimited source of money available so the development team should figure out where to focus on and how to report this to the respective business owners.


The product owner will eventually convert improvements into epics or stories on the backlog for the development team. Once prioritized both the product owner and scrum master can start working on a clear set of requirements for the developers and add the stories to the sprint backlog. Getting the right information out of your feedback loop is a continues activity in your app development process and crucial to maintain focus. Below are a few pointers that should help you getting the most out of your feedback loop.

[Read more…]

McDonald’s interactive placemat

In the Netherlands, McDonald’s want you to make music while eating your Big Mac.The fast food chain in the country has unveiled a placemat, called a McTrax, that allows customers to bang out tunes as they dine. This digital placemat was introduced as a cool way to help foster creativity in McDonald’s restaurants. While the mat itself is simply made of paper, it’s printed with conductive ink that allows you to connect your smartphone to transform your entire tray into a DJ station.

My Connected Home Has Been Hacked

Last week I had dinner with a friend who works for Amazon who just purchased a new home in the Seattle area. Being that were both technologists, the topic turned to home networking. My friend told me in the top level of his house, he wasn’t getting a good Wi-Fi signal. He was looking at buying a new wireless router, but since there was nothing wrong with the one he had he just couldn’t bring himself to throw it away and purchase a new one. Eventually he told me the one he had was four years old, and he was just looking to reposition it in the house to get a better signal instead of buying a new one.

I also built a new house in the Seattle area in 2013. I was able to get my wife to agree that we would include Internet connected devices where possible, to try to make our lives easier. So far we have six Internet connected devices in the house and it’s starting to become a showcase for the Internet of Things. They are: [Read more…]

Artificial Intelligence on a stick

Anyone wanting to add some deep learning to his machine? It’s easy to do, now that they’ve put it on a stick.  It’s called the Fathom: a standalone, ultra-low power neural network compute accelerator inside a standard USB stick.

Fathom converts trained offline neural networks into embedded neural networks running on the ultra-low power Myriad 2 VPU.

Work Agile

turkey thanksgivingBy now you undoubtedly heard of the whole Agile trend or working in Scrum teams. In my opinion a lot of companies try to evolve into a company with an Agile mindset, an Agile way of work, and most of them choose to implement Agile by working in scrum teams.

The thing I find interesting is that the start of this transformation, or evolution if you will, comes from the management of these organizations. Somewhere in an ivory tower where the management resides the decision is made to “work Agile”. You and I both know that management have no idea what this is, means or implicates. [Read more…]

New Report: Mastering Digital Disruption with DevOps

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 13.53.08Today we’re launching the closing piece of our research series on disruptive innovation: ‘Mastering Digital Disruption with DevOps‘. In the earlier works we sketched the design principles of the new competition. Two-sided market players are taking over control in every market and a new wave of platform innovation is to be expected: The blockchain.

There are no easy fixes. Startups are faster, more engaged and more customer obsessed. The only way to tackle the incompetencies of incumbents is to change the way the organization works: Its culture, its management, its obsession with bureaucracy. How should incumbents respond to these kind of market changes? The answer we present in the closing (fourth) report is:


1 Innovate management

2 By doing DevOps

3 In order to become anti-fragile


Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 13.29.10

The long term objective is to create an organization that gains strength form disruption. A state of Antifragility. Nassim Taleb has introduced the concept of the black swans. Well, the black swans have arrived and there are more to come. Antifragile organizations are welcoming them.

Want to master Digital Disruption? Download our new report on Disruptive Innovation and read all about DevOps as a strategy for management innovation here.







Unorganize and WIN!

Unorganize and Win
Last night I was at our annual VINT symposium in Bussum in the Netherlands. The topic was “unorganized” and a good number of speakers told us about the developments in IT and how unorganization is a part of that.

Thinking how to apply this, I got inspired from the speakers and my colleagues Menno and Sander.

Many of the things I saw last night, are topics I have used to explain to people why Agile is such an important development in the ways we look at problems. It is not new that technology and market developments have sped up in the past decades; and we must change our way of thinking and innovation to keep up.

Wait…ways of innovation? Is there another way of innovating? Maybe not innovation itself needs to change, and you cannot speed up the way people innovate, can you? [Read more…]


Connected, by Luke Gilford, is a portrait of a woman grappling with aging, self-perception, and transformation in a technologically optimized world. Jackie (Pamela Anderson) is a burnt-out AuraCycle instructor in the midst of a midlife crisis. She’s obsessed with self-improvement podcasts (voiced by Jane Fonda), and she is soon drawn to an advanced yet enigmatic wellness spa that promises to enhance her mind, body and soul. Guided by her effortless and nubile mentor, Luna (Dree Hemingway), Jackie will give up anything to feel “connected” — to herself, to the future, and to a precarious sense of perfection.

Testing Machine Learning; Learning Machine Testing

Do you use a smartphone today? Yes. Did you use a smartphone 10 years ago? No. Do you use a robot today? Probably not. Will you use a robot in 10 years from now? Yes! Does that perspective bother you? What are the risks? What are the possibilities?

What by today’s definition is a robot? It’s a machine that gathers information about its environment by input of sensors and based on this input changes its behavior. Combined with machine learning and machine intelligence the robot’s reactions over time get more and more adequate. The use of Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics and Cloud technology make a robot versatile.

A Robot can come in many different shapes and forms. It’s not just the metallic man. It may just as well be an autonomous vacuum cleaner or a self-driving car.

Testing a Robot

How will you know you can rely on your robot (or more likely multiple robots)? We’ll have to learn how to test machines and can use machine learning for testing! To find out how to test a robot, I built my own robot, and started learning about testing it. In this presentation I will take you along my quest and share my experiences and insights.

Learn more about the Euro Star Software Testing Conference here.

Hide and Seek with a GoPro

Coordination: Traditional vs DevOps

Working in a DevOps team is extremely different from any other environments. In almost every aspect it’s different: culture, organization, roles, decisions and coordination. In this blog, I will zoom in one of  these aspects. I will discuss the dimension of coordination.

Before talking about coordination in DevOps teams specifically, let’s have a deeper look in how activities are coordinated in an organization.

Essentially, we can say that there are two basic concepts on how we coordinate. In the below figure, professor Julian Birkinshaw, of the London Business School, shows these two aspects:

  1. Coordination achieved through Bureaucracy;
  2. Coordination achieved through Emergence.[1]


Coordination achieved through Bureaucracy

The word ‘Bureaucracy’ has become tainted and talking about bureaucracy mostly got negative connotations. When the concept of Bureaucracy was created, it was seen as the rational legal form of organizing, call it a democracy if you want.

There were lot of countries as well as organizations and companies, which were run by autocrats and dictators. So, Weber came up with [Read more…]

Blue Eyed Me

This is the world of the 99-cent lifeform. Like a social media profile or an online shopping list tailored to our hobbies, we collect genetically modified pets, engineered to look like their owners.

How to teach integration development to management with Legos

The old saying goes: “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. In that sense it’s rather strange that a lot of the IT projects I’ve witnessed have skirted around the combined integration testing between two teams.

Usually this becomes apparent when the product is being demoed for the first time. The teams show how the two systems connect with each other. Then it’s time for the questions. I’ve got a pre-selected bundle of questions that I ask:

  • What happens if the system A tries to send information to system B but the system B is down? Is the message queued or is it lost?
  • What happens if the system A is sending information to system B but the data connection breaks during the send? Is the entire message resent? Is there a possibility that some of the data has reached system B and for instance the message’s unique id number is already filled?
  • Does system B send back any confirmation to system A? What if this confirmation is not sent? Will system A retry its message?
  • Does the system A allow system B to change anything? Is the integration push or pull or does it work with queries?

These questions might seem obvious and the answers to them should be obvious as well. If the development team can answer them right away with good arguments, the situation is good. However if any of them are answered with a blank stare and “well…I don’t really know” then the situation is bad.

[Read more…]

Woman on Hong Kong subway melts down when her phone battery dies


Agile is not the answer to everything!

CynefinA tool is a tool, it fits within a certain domain. I do not use a ladle to get my nails into wood and I do not stir my soup with a hammer (both might work to a certain degree, but are not specifically fit for it).

During the trainings I provide for colleagues and clients I often get the question “Where does Agile not work”. Funnily enough the question always focusses on the negative, as if the person who asks wants to disqualify Agile. I would love to one day be asked the opposite, but many people still struggle to get into the Agile mindset and might be looking for things to justify not getting there.

As I said, Agile is seen as a mindset, a way of working. It is not so much a tool, as it is an approach to solving things. So where does Agile work and what is not it’s domain?

[Read more…]