How Pitney Bowes is walking the walk with Dev/Test tools

You know what they say about talking the talk and walking the walk? In enterprise technology, sometimes it’s more useful to watch what a company does rather than just listen to what it says.

Put both together and you can really start to learn something. I’ve been doing a little of that today with technology giant Pitney Bowes.

The company’s business can be described as using hardware and software products to enable transactions in five areas of commerce: customer information management, location intelligence, customer management, shipping and mailing and e-commerce. Fifteen Pitney Bowes software products are deployed on Amazon, for example.

Roger Pilc, the chief innovation officer at Pitney Bowes, recently wrote an interesting blog looking forward to what he sees as the “five drivers of commerce in 2016.” Pilc’s five:

1. The Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will drive better business outcomes
2. Small and medium businesses will greatly benefit from the digitization of physical communications
3. Personalization and hyper-localization will drive explosive growth in global commerce
4. Data Analytics will play a key role in fraud detection and prevention
5. Omnichannel Marketing will increasingly use data analytics and optimize physical and digital technologies to deliver a seamless experience for the customer

Pilc says he sees more Pitney Bowes clients of all sizes working to link physical and digital technology to serve customers and drive revenue, an assertion that’s hard to deny. Just look around. “Businesses will need to transform their competencies to seamlessly serve customers across the physical and digital worlds of commerce,” he says.

As we’ve written many times here, transforming competencies to seamlessly serve customers is oh-so-easy to say and oh-so-hard to do. Many companies have died trying. You should read Pilc’s whole blog post for his advice on how to meet new market demands.

More interesting to me is to watch what Pitney Bowes is doing to gear itself up to meet the demands of commerce. You know, how is it walking the walk?

At the most recent CA World, the company’s senior SDLC architect, Sam Detweiler, offered some clues. Detweiler laid out how Pitney Bowes is using modern development and testing tools, including service virtualization, to get ahead of commercial needs and bring innovation to market faster.

Before modern dev/test tools, Detweiler says software would be written to spec and then tested by users, who would request changes. Developers would process change requests. Rinse and repeat. In that old process, he says, perhaps one in 10 apps would ultimately be approved. What Pitney Bowes needed was a way to speed development by reducing the amount of code rewrites.

So the company turned to development and testing tools to create an API simulator from spec, including a toolkit of simple e-commerce transactions. The DevTest tools (Pitney Bowes uses tools from CA Technologies) handle all communications, logic control, message construction and error recovery.

Here’s a slide Detweiler presented on the simulator architecture:

Having the API simulator allowed Pitney Bowes team to experience the API details before the first line of actual code was written.

Some of the other benefits he listed for the DevTest platform:

  • A stable environment for service construction and execution
  • An easily understood and extendable environment for debugging
  • Easier deployment

“We were able to integrate our code with the simulator for the defined test cases and show working prototypes early,” Detweiler said said. “Development of the product code was streamlined because all the changes had been worked out in advance.”

That, my friends, is what walking the walk looks like.

Originally published at