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The Impact of Information Overload on Businesses Today


Over half of the world’s population are active on social media, with a typical user spending two hours and 25 minutes each day, equating to roughly one full waking day of their life each week[1].

According to a report published by researchers at the University of California, San Diego—on average, we consume about 34 gigabytes of data and information each day[2]. This equates to around 100,000 words consumed across different platforms. To put this into context, it’s like reading the entire contents of a novel every day. Some of the most popular books with a word count of around 100,000 words include[3]:

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee 100,388 words
Gullivers Travels, Jonathan Swift 107,349 words
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte 107,945 words
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain 109,571 words

But, unlike a book with context, the challenge we face with the daily barrage of information is separating the trivial from the important, which can lead to fatigue while having a detrimental effect on our decision-making processes, impacting our productivity. The same could be said for businesses, though the outcome can result in unforeseen costs relating to, for example, unplanned downtime and, in extreme cases, the well-being and health of individuals.

In this blog, I want to examine some of the ways we might address the problems of information overload and alert fatigue.

The numbers presented above around daily consumption may appear staggering but what might surprise you is these numbers are from a report published in 2009. You may question my reasoning for using such old data, but the point is we know this to grow exponentially. each year, and it was already more than we could consume back then. Estimates today put the number at over 60GB per day[4], or two books worth of information.

The rate and ease with which information is available to us has changed drastically in the past decade and doesn’t show any sign of slowing. Some reports try to ascertain how much data the human brain can realistically process, but these are difficult to measure accurately, and we are, of course, all different. But the question remains, how do we address the issue of information overload ?

From a personal perspective, there are productivity methods we can develop, which we can learn about through books and courses. Yet sometimes it feels that every time technology comes along to help us address some of these issues, it can add to the problem too.

Take, for example, business productivity monitoring. There are well-designed platforms to help us manage areas of the business, such as networks, systems, databases, IT services, security, and other mission-critical business applications, each with specialist functions, disciplines, and capabilities. But as businesses evolve and grow, either organically or through acquisition, things inadvertently become more complex.

For over two decades, SolarWinds has been helping address some of the root causes of complexity through simplified monitoring and management. SolarWinds has recently made some ground-breaking announcements around its observability vision and strategy to continue helping customers and partners keep ahead in business. In this, we’re addressing the demands of increasing volumes of data and the ever-growing complexity of systems across on-premises and multi-cloud environments.

Let’s take a brief look at how SolarWinds is helping customers minimize the impact of information overload and the potential impact of alert fatigue.

The ever-growing complexity of system architecture has the potential to create alert storms, which can cause neural and decision fatigue, draining a team and wasting resources fast. So, for example, if 30 system alerts arrive—have three issues triggered 10 alerts each, or have 15 issues generated two alerts each? If teams aren’t practicing cooperation from the same single source of truth, who knows which alerts are real? And does each alert require a human response and intervention?

SolarWinds has introduced observability enhancements for hybrid cloud and modern application environments designed to eliminate alert storms and reduce associated fatigue. This is achieved using SolarWinds artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) enhanced with machine learning (ML) along with customized metrics-powered alerting. These are a set of new smart capabilities designed to help customers reduce their mean time to detection (MTTD) by adding diagnostic, assistive, and automation features. So instead of reporting every event, these capabilities now automatically surface and prioritize real problems so teams can focus on higher-value business issues, enhancing the productivity and velocity of hybrid cloud and modern application environments.

As a result, businesses experience greater operational efficiency which can help in reducing unplanned downtime and fewer alert response volumes. This, in turn, allows teams to focus on incremental business revenue opportunities instead of the relentless reaction to the high volumes of alerts.

If you want to learn more, request a demo, or start a free trial, visit: SolarWinds® Platform

[1] “Digital 2021: “Global Overview Report” Simon Kemp, Global Digital Insights:  (Published January 2021,  accessed November 2022)

[2] “Part of the Daily American Diet, 34 Gigabytes of Data” Nick Bilton, New York Times An Average American Consumes 34 Gigabytes a Day (Published January 2021, accessed November 2022)

[3] “Word counts of the most popular books in the world”, Foster Grant. Word Counts of the Most Popular Books in the World - Foster Grant UK (Published August 2017, accessed November 2022)

[4] “We’re Consuming More Information than Ever. And that’s a Problem” Erin Nystrom, We’re Consuming More Information than Ever. And that’s a Problem (Accessed November 2022)

Mark Lewis
Mark is Principal Product Marketing Manager for Global Enterprise here at SolarWinds, based near to London, UK. He has over three decades experience across engineering,…
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