The number of apps and web tools employees use regularly continues to increase. Most departments have about 40-60 different digital tools that they use. 71% of employees feel they use so many apps that it makes work more complex. Many of the apps that we use every day have various alerts. We get a "ping" when someone mentions our name on a Teams channel, a notification popup that an update is available, or an alert of errors or security issues. Just think about the various digital alerts that you get. They can come from:
- Software apps on your computer
- Web-based SaaS tools
- Websites where you've allowed alerts
- Mobile apps and tools
- Email banners
- Text messages
- Team communication tools
This can lead to many issues that impact productivity and cybersecurity. The more people get overwhelmed by notifications, the more likely they are to ignore them.
How Does App Fatigue Put Companies at Risk?
Employees Begin Ignoring Updates
When digital alerts interrupt your work, you can feel like you're always behind. This can lead to ignoring small things that aren't seen as time-sensitive, such as installing an update for an app or your computer. You may feel you can't spare the time right now and aren't sure how long it will take. But ignoring updates for an app or device is dangerous. Many of those updates include important security patches for found vulnerabilities. When those updates are not installed, the device and its network are at a higher risk of a cyberattack.
Employees Reuse Passwords (and They're Often Weak)
Another security casualty of app fatigue is password security. The more accounts, and by extension passwords, someone must create, the more likely they are to reuse passwords. It's estimated that passwords are typically reused 64% of the time. Credential breaches are a primary driver of cloud data breaches. Hackers can easily crack weak passwords, and the more accounts that use that same password, the more accounts are at risk.
Employees May Turn Off Alerts
Some alerts are okay to turn off. For example, do you really need to know every time someone responds to a group thread or just when they @name you? But turning off important security alerts is going too far. Everyone has a breaking point when one more notification leads them to turn off all the alerts they can across all apps. The problem with this is that in the mix of alerts are important ones, such as an anti-malware app warning about a newly found virus.
What's the Answer to App Fatigue?
It's not realistic to just go backward in time before all these apps were around. But you can put a strategy in place that puts people in charge of their tech and not the other way around.
Streamline Your Business Applications
From both a productivity and security standpoint, fewer apps are better. The fewer apps you have, the fewer potential avenues for a breach and the fewer passwords to remember and notifications to address. Look at the tools that you use to see where redundancies may be. Many companies are using two or more apps that can do the same function. Consider using an umbrella platform like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These platforms include several work tools, but users only need a single login to access them.
Have Your IT Team Set up Notifications
Sometimes users don't always know what types of notifications are the most important. One option is to set up their app notifications for them. This helps ensures they aren't bombarded with notifications but are still getting the important ones.
Automate Application Updates
A cybersecurity best practice is to automate device and software updates. This removes the need for employees to handle it themselves and enhances productivity by removing unnecessary updates from their view. Automating device updates through a managed services solution improves security by helping to mitigate the chance of a vulnerable app putting your network at risk.
Open a Two-Way Communication About Alerts
Employees may never turn off an alert because they're afraid they might get in trouble. Managers may not even realize that constant app alert interruptions are hurting productivity. Communicate with employees and let them know they can communicate with you. Discuss how to use alerts effectively and the best ways to manage alerts for a better and more productive workday.