Do I detest a bit of sarcasm in your suggestion???
Where better to detect the issues we are having than in the complaints department. There are arguments for and against automation, but for the most part, if it is approached in a reasonable, well planned, and deliberate manner.
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.
~ Winston Churchill ~
Yes Rich it was detestable sarcasm.
However to progress the efforts of research into the Automation paradigm. I, too, have been conducting such an inquest for the more mundane task of keeping my job.
One thing that I have noted, in a number of dissertations, is the frequent reference to automating of test cases.
I have never automated a test case I have automated windows then business processes by accumulating windows automation into shell or master scripts.
Testers have found these to be of great value in entering data to set up the preconditions so that they can execute their test cases and on most occasions entering the values for the test.
I guess it comes down to your definition of a test case.
does creating 18 customer types to process though one business process count as one test case or 18.
The automation effort is identical only the data differs.
The human issue is very important in test automation. People jump in this profession without a second thought. This is because Automation always looks very Jazzy n high-tech to mannual testers. Its very important to conduct a feasibility study before going for automation and save in the time n dollars of your company.
I believe there is a lot of work that remains to be done in easing the transition from functional requirements to test cases. This is one of the most challenging things to do, and is also quite laborious. THere has been some work done on data specification languages that can be parsed or compiled into testcases - but the closest practical implementation of these is the data driven test methodology - in which somewhat of a 'pseudo spreadsheet language' is reverse engineered by people who become intimately familiar with the product design and navigation.
My feeling is that any major innovations in automated testing would be further automation of the process, which would need to take place upstream in the development process.