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Machine Learning Monitoring: Bridge the gap between Data and Business Teams

In the rapidly evolving world of machine learning, the ability to develop and deploy models has seen remarkable advancements. However, there is an often overlooked aspect that can significantly impact the performance and reliability of machine learning monitoring. While the excitement often revolves around the development and deployment stages, the crucial phase of monitoring is frequently neglected, leading to a troubling monitoring gap.


Research studies have revealed a startling statistic: only one-third of models in production receive active monitoring. The remaining models are left to operate in the dark, potentially harboring issues that go unnoticed until they wreak havoc on business operations. This article aims to shed light on the monitoring gap in machine learning and emphasize the critical importance of implementing comprehensive monitoring practices.


Who should care about Machine Learning Model Monitoring?

Everyone cares about the model's impact on business.


In the world of machine learning, model monitoring goes beyond the realm of data scientists. Once a model transitions from the lab to becoming a part of a company's products or processes, it becomes a service with its users and stakeholders. Business owners, product managers, data engineers, and support teams all have a vested interest in tracking and interpreting model behavior.


For the data team, monitoring ensures efficiency and impact. It allows for quick detection, resolution, and prevention of incidents while also enabling model maintenance. With observability tools, the data team can keep the house in order, saving time to innovate.


For business and domain experts, monitoring builds trust. Acting on model predictions requires confidence in their accuracy. Understanding specific outcomes and identifying weak spots in the model is essential. Ongoing model value, risk control, and compliance (especially in regulated industries like healthcare, insurance, or finance) are critical considerations.

A complete view of the production model is necessary. Proper monitoring provides the right metrics and visualizations, serving each party's needs.


Enterprise adoption of models can be challenging, often beginning after model deployment. In practice, models must meet multiple criteria beyond accuracies, such as stability, ethics, fairness, explainability, user experience, and performance on edge cases. Ongoing oversight is necessary to ensure a useful and effective model.


Transparency, stakeholder engagement, and collaboration tools are key to making model value real. The visibility provided by monitoring improves adoption and facilitates problem-solving when issues arise. Collaboration between domain experts and data scientists helps address anomalies, population-specific failures, and model adjustments.


Monitoring should go beyond technical bug-tracking; it should serve the needs of multiple teams, fostering collaboration in model support and risk mitigation.


By fostering collaboration and transparency, model monitoring becomes an integral part of the machine learning product, enabling audibility and supervision in action. When done right, it benefits the entire team and ensures the successful deployment and management of machine learning models.

Monitoring the Gap in Machine Learning

The monitoring gap in machine learning is a prevalent issue that needs urgent attention, as research shows that only a third of models are actively monitored, leaving many in the dark about their performance and behavior.


Typically, after a model is deployed, it becomes the responsibility of the data scientist who created it. However, as they move on to new projects, monitoring often gets neglected, leading to missed issues and reactive firefighting when problems arise.


The solutions implemented to address this gap are often ad-hoc and fragmented. Important models may have dedicated custom dashboards, while others rely on manual spot-checking or user feedback to identify issues. Analyzing models and providing deeper insights becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming process.


The lack of clear responsibility for monitoring exacerbates the problem. In traditional software development, DevOps teams ensure the ongoing maintenance, but with machine learning, the lines are blurred. The burden typically falls on the data science team, which already juggles multiple responsibilities and may lack incentives to prioritize maintenance.


To bridge this gap, production-focused tools, and practices are crucial. As the number of machine learning applications grows, holistic model monitoring becomes essential. Accountability within the team is also important to showcase the business value delivered by machine learning models and raise awareness of the costs of downtime.


Addressing monitoring early in the machine learning lifecycle is vital. It should be treated as a priority, even with the first model deployment. Seamless production, visible gains, and happy users are key to scaling machine learning and building a reputation for its success.


Conclusion

Although monitoring may seem mundane, it is indispensable for the success of machine learning initiatives. Investing in effective monitoring practices from the beginning is essential to ensure timely responses to issues, gain insights, and build trust in machine learning systems.

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