Are AI and observability modern stressbusters in business?

By Mark Crawford, Vice President for Strategy and Execution EMEA at New Relic
Mark Crawford, Vice President for Strategy and Execution at New Relic, discusses how AI can be the answer to tackling stress in the workplace

Since the pandemic, supporting employee mental health has transitioned from a desirable ethos to a key priority for many organisations.

Beyond the moral implications, the business case for mitigating stress and long-term mental ill health could not be stronger. Recent research from Deloitte suggests poor mental health costs UK employers up to a staggering US$76 billion a year. Businesses need to focus on solutions that protect their employees and their bottom line.  

To tackle stress and ill mental health head-first, employers must find a way to address the root causes of strain and stress. It is here that Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions can be a critical asset.

AI plays a key role in building better employee mental health by conducting a range of otherwise time-consuming, high-pressure, and often stress-inducing tasks. In turn, this helps to reduce the personal and professional fallout caused by ill mental health.  

Using AI to unpick data and diagnose  

One of AI’s biggest assets is its ability to process gigantic amounts of data in a matter of seconds, then detect specific signals and share recommended actions. This hugely increases employee productivity, freeing up time and streamlining processes. 

Take the healthcare sector as an example. Dermatological pictures, X-rays, or CT scans are often the only ways to diagnose patients and determine the required course of treatment. Yet a shortage in specialists has put the burden on already stretched medical teams to conduct these tasks, increasing the risk of human error.  

Replacing human labour with AI solutions can help boost efficiencies, diagnose more patients, and reduce stress and burden on medical teams. AI trained to diagnose potential health issues from millions of pictures can process hundreds of thousands of images with more accuracy and speed than any human. Taking this pressure off staff gives them back time that could be better spent analysing high risk cases and seeing more patients, while the reduction in their workloads helps to protects their mental health.  

How AI can address ongoing stresses 

Mission-critical and safety-critical professionals arguably face some of today’s most stressful business scenarios. 

Engineers and operators, for example, are responsible for the 24/7 uptime and maintenance of large and complex infrastructure, such as manufacturing plants, power grids, transportation networks and large digital architectures and, in turn, undergo huge amounts of stress. This is dependent on the size and complexity of the digital infrastructure, and potential consequences of IT incidents, from consumers not being able to access their online bank accounts, to halting transactions on major e-commerce sites and millions of sales being lost.

One of the biggest contributors to stress for IT engineers is the fact that outages and performance issues do not necessarily operate within working hours and can occur at any time in the day. DevOps teams must be on-call around the clock to resolve urgent and complex situations with limited support. This includes dealing with false alarms, which take a toll on team morale in the long run.  

For these ongoing, critical responsibilities, deploying reliable system monitoring based on software telemetry and using an observability platform can reduce stress and bring huge mental health benefits to engineering teams. In short, observability acts like a silent guardian, monitoring all systems 24 hours a day, without becoming stressed or tired.  

Using AI, DevOps teams can automate observability practices so engineers can be alerted at speed and run initial assessments and recommended appropriate actions. This is of huge reassurance to DevOps teams, who must keep their fingers on the pulse at all times.  

AI and observability: The modern stressbusters in business 

Using large amounts of telemetry data, AIOps systems can automatically detect and notify employees of anomalies before they escalate. In turn, AI systems ensure that professionals can be efficient and focus on important tasks without the fear of missing incidents.

By deploying these technologies, companies can use their staff’s experience and skill sets in a more targeted manner, focusing their attention on high value activities. This reduces stress and fatigue among the workforce, boosts job satisfaction and improves mental health, not to mention building the bottom line.  

Today, technology really can mitigate stress and pressure points in business and among employees. The sooner business leaders realise the potential AI and observability have to support employees, the better positioned organisations will be to strengthen and retain their workforces, streamline efficiencies and strive towards a happier and healthier future.  

Mark Crawford is the Vice President for Strategy and Execution in the EMEA region at New Relic


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