Welcome!

@DXWorldExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @DXWorldExpo, Java IoT, Cloud Security

@DXWorldExpo: Article

The Science Behind Alert Fatigue By @MMoscovici | @BigDataExpo #BigData

How to turn down the noise so you can hear the signal

You've likely experienced alert fatigue at some point in your life. You feel exasperated as your phone pings for what seems like the hundredth time in a day, or your eyes glaze over as a glut of new analytics data rolls in. You feel resigned to the fact that an influx of email could very well go on forever.

This acclimatization that comes with being overwhelmed by a variety of signals, both relevant and irrelevant, isn't a big deal on the personal side of things. But it can have major consequences in the world of business intelligence, where missing even one important alert can be costly.

Just look at Target's 2013 data breach. Its security team had actually received alerts about malware on the network from a threat-detection tool. However, the team chose to ignore the alerts because they were so common. You know the rest of the story - Target is still paying customers who were victims of the breach.

Luckily, this insidious problem for enterprise has some fairly straightforward solutions - thanks to what we already know about human psychology and the science behind alert fatigue.

The psychology behind alert fatigue
On its most basic level, alert fatigue can be attributed to habituation - a psychological process that's meant to help reduce stress by eliminating your awareness of unpleasant and potentially stress-inducing signals that continue unabated and seem to have no connection to real-world consequences.

A car alarm, for instance, often fades into the background if it goes on for a long period of time. Your body starts to understand that this unpleasant noise doesn't impact you, so you tune it out. You don't stop hearing it; you just stop paying attention to it.

This would be all well and good if habituation weren't such a blunt instrument. Hospitals, for instance, have been battling their own version of alert fatigue for years. Doctors and nurses become so accustomed to the flood of irrelevant beeping sounds and alarms that even ones that are relevant are often ignored, both consciously and unconsciously. In other words, the more signals someone receives, the more likely he or she will be to ignore them - regardless of relevance.

Fortunately, this alert fatigue is easy to combat. Hospitals found that by reducing the number of auditory alarms, they were able to nearly eliminate the problem. It wasn't a matter of adding technology or changing the way employees were alerted; it was simply a matter of sorting out which alarms were important and which were just noise.

This thinking directly applies to the world of enterprise - you shouldn't have to sift through an increasingly large haystack of signals to find the few needles. You should just be given the needles from the start.

How to fight alert fatigue
Remember the controversy over "the color of the dress" that recently circulated on social media? Turns out that the color you see isn't about the light coming into your eyes. Rather, the context around the dress constructs your color experience.

Similarly, alert fatigue is more about the context and the experience: How many alerts do you review and in what fashion, and are those alerts actionable or relevant? If you're used to acting on alerts because they're relevant, specific, and have the correct context, you'll be less susceptible to alert fatigue.

But if your morning consists of sifting through multiple analytics dashboards and email alerts telling you about every single change that happened in a BI chart, then you're more susceptible to alert fatigue. The best way to start reducing this potential for fatigue is to do an audit of your own behavior and ask colleagues and employees to do the same.

Monitor when and why you send and receive emails and any other notifications - from calendar alerts to social media alerts to network security alerts and so on. If you're being alerted (or alerting others), make note of it. Spend at least three days doing this. Once you and your colleagues have a good sample, you can begin to dissect these alerts and discover which are relevant.

Focus on results when looking at these alerts. Are they helping you improve the bottom line? Are they giving you data you can use immediately, or are they just flooding you with information you have to analyze? Are you getting alerts that are relevant to other departments but not you? Answering these questions can help you gain a better understanding of which alerts are relevant. Once you know that, you can start to turn off some of them.

Create email filters so that only urgent email shows up (e.g., sudden changes in meeting times and messages from important people in your work community). Turn off alerts for social media likes, but keep alerts for follow-up comments on important projects or time-sensitive issues. Only send alerts for metrics that are showing irregular behavior (e.g., if server latency is especially high or sales are especially low), and get rid of alarms for events that are within normal ranges.

Alert fatigue can creep up on you. As alerts start to pile up and become decreasingly relevant, it can be easy to surrender to the glut of information and succumb to fatigue without even realizing it. But by implementing filters that only send employees alerts that are results-based - instead of information-based - you can reset alert fatigue back to zero. And with regular audits of the signals that are coming in, you can keep it that way.

More Stories By Marius Moscovici

Marius Moscovici is the founder and CEO of Metric Insights (http://www.metricinsights.com/). He founded the company in 2010 with the goal of transforming the way business intelligence is performed so that organizations of any size can quickly and easily deploy powerful analytics. Marius has over 20 years of experience in analytics and data warehousing and was previously the co-founder and CEO of Integral Results, a leading business intelligence consulting company that was acquired by Idea Integration. Marius also formed and led the data warehousing and real-time analytics group at Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life.

DXWorldEXPO Digital Transformation Stories
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 12-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI and Machine Learning to one location.
CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of computational needs for many industries. Their solutions provide benefits across many environments, such as datacenter deployment, HPC, workstations, storage networks and standalone server installations. ICC has been in business for over 23 years and their phenomenal range of clients include multinational corporations, universities, and small busines...
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
All in Mobile is a place where we continually maximize their impact by fostering understanding, empathy, insights, creativity and joy. They believe that a truly useful and desirable mobile app doesn't need the brightest idea or the most advanced technology. A great product begins with understanding people. It's easy to think that customers will love your app, but can you justify it? They make sure your final app is something that users truly want and need. The only way to do this is by ...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Nutanix has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of CloudEXPO | DevOpsSUMMIT | DXWorldEXPO New York, which will take place November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Nutanix makes infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualization and networking into a resilient, softwar...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that Big Data Federation to Exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO, colocated with DevOpsSUMMIT and DXWorldEXPO, November 12-13, 2018 in New York City. Big Data Federation, Inc. develops and applies artificial intelligence to predict financial and economic events that matter. The company uncovers patterns and precise drivers of performance and outcomes with the aid of machine-learning algorithms, big data, and fundamental analysis. Their products are deployed...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...