Welcome!

@DXWorldExpo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, 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
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...
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...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve fu...
Only Adobe gives everyone - from emerging artists to global brands - everything they need to design and deliver exceptional digital experiences. Adobe Systems Incorporated develops, markets, and supports computer software products and technologies. The Company's products allow users to express and use information across all print and electronic media. The Company's Digital Media segment provides tools and solutions that enable individuals, small and medium businesses and enterprises to cre...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Daniel Jones is CTO of EngineerBetter, helping enterprises deliver value faster. Previously he was an IT consultant, indie video games developer, head of web development in the finance sector, and an award-winning martial artist. Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams.
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
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...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...