How AI can rescue IT pros from job burnout and alert fatigue

What if there was a way to ease the stress of running an IT operation - and increase job satisfaction? Turns out, AIOps can offer mental health benefits.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer
valentinrussanov/Getty Images

A recent Mercer survey of 300 companies finds 94% report they have strengthened their coverage for mental health care, increased support, or put in place new programs or systems to help improve employee health and wellness in the last three years. There are many reasons employees would need such counseling, but the harried and stressful work environments of IT operations surely doesn't help matters for those working there. 

Also: Tech giants hatch a plan for AI job losses: Reskill 95 million in 10 years

What if there was a way to help ease the stress of running an IT operation -- and perhaps reduce burnout and increase job satisfaction? Artificial intelligence provides an approach to offload and automate some stressful aspects of the job, such as the hours and days spent trying to troubleshoot and fix issues. arising out of the multiple platforms that now are part of infrastructures. 

AIOps -- artificial intelligence for IT operations -- is intended to intelligently automate away the tedious side of information technology -- fixing bugs, watching for security issues, finding root causes, and remediating the above issues. "AIOps is not about improving AI, but it is about using AI in IT operations," says Andy Thurai, principal analyst with Constellation Research.   

Now AIOps is being supercharged with generative AI, which may make it possible to query and gain quick answers to problems that once took hours or days to understand and remediate. In the process, it may also help reduce burnout and stress among IT professionals. 

Consider the most soul-sucking activity for IT teams -- alert fatigue. The size and complexity of IT infrastructure keeps expanding -- and with it, alerts. And don't think the cloud is taking out the complexity -- it actually adds to complexity, with systems and applications running across a range of platforms with deforming protocols. 

Also: Generative AI's 'revolution in productivity' is retrenching software developer roles

Every IT professional faces such cognitive overload, eventually "getting burned out by alert fatigue," says Thurai. "It is not uncommon for administrators to get hundreds if not thousands of alerts for a single incident," he says. "And they don't know what they're chasing because they don't have any insights. Instead of giving them more insights, these tools give them more alerts than they can handle." 

The main problem with technology alerts is that most alerts are false positives. "With alerts, unlike CNN, every news is not breaking news," says Thurai. With this avalanche of alerts, "the response teams, when they get alert fatigue, are not quick and responsive -- their cognitive abilities get reduced."  

The roots of cognitive overload were identified in Constellation's survey of 317 IT professionals:

  • Most enterprises are not set up to handle major incidents in real time.
  • Incidents, major and minor, are more frequent than expected.
  • The cost of incident resolution is always very high.
  • Production operations are getting harder as scale and complexity are increasing.
  • Hybrid applications are extremely difficult to manage and maintain.

This all results in employee burnout and alert fatigue, Thurai emphasizes. "Many enterprises have therapy and mental health days. They're all trying to solve mental health problems instead of solving the root problem."

AIOps -- now boosted with user-friendly generative AI capabilities -- may help address some of the stressful problems upfront. "While IT teams can get bogged down by the overwhelming volume of alerts and KPIs, the fact remains that when it comes to correlated application and infrastructure monitoring and incident management, AIOps remains extremely valuable for IT discovery and troubleshooting," Clayton Donley, vice president and general manager of Broadcom, observed in a blog post

Also: 4 ways to help your organization overcome AI inertia

AIOps, originally designed around traditional AI, is now poised for a major boost -- with generative AI, Donley says. "Traditional AI can help with specific tasks based on predefined rules and patterns to analyze data and make predictions. Gen AI takes things to the next level from pattern recognition to pattern creation. You will be able to ask a question in context and get an understandable answer. This will be the first time that computers are going to be involved in fixing themselves."

Plus, generative AI "will cut the time it takes to resolve tickets by helping IT teams quickly understand where to focus their attention," Donley adds. "Instead of wasting time navigating through a veritable ocean of alerts, genAI will be able to speed the process, analyzing and summarizing effective courses of action."

This year, at least 80% of AIOps tools providers will be incorporating generative AI features within their solutions, according to Tian Lin, research analyst at G2. Such features include tailored tutorials that "can craft individualized tutorials by assessing user profiles and interactions. These textual or video-based guides align with the user's requirements, ensuring they understand the software's nuances more effectively." 

Also: These 7 tech products helped us find inner peace

In addition, AIOps environments are also incorporating advanced virtual assistants that "can address user queries as they arise," Lin adds. "The assistant can provide a comprehensive, context-specific explanation if a user encounters a stumbling block with a feature." Other generative features on the way include instant code suggestions, practice environments, actionable feedback, illustrative support, and customized learning modules.

Editorial standards