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I am pleased to announce the final programme for Industry Day at ECIR 2017, which will be held on Thursday 13th April immediately after the regular conference program. I’m sure you’ll agree the lineup of speakers we have below is very strong indeed. Hope to see you there!

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Here’s quick update on this year’s Industry Day at ECIR 2017, which will be held on Thursday 13th April, immediately after the regular conference program. I’m pleased to announce that our line-up has now expanded to include the following 7 speakers:

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IRSG logoJust in case you missed it, here are details of the latest issue of Informer, which came out on this week. As usual, lots of good stuff, with a mix of conference reviews, feature articles and the several obligatory mentions of the word ‘chatbot’. For further details see the Informer website. Or if you fancy becoming a contributor, get in touch!

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We are just in the process of putting together the programme for Industry Day at ECIR 2017, and as part of that invite speaker proposals as outlined below. If you’re interested in presenting, or have any questions, just drop me a line. Hope to see you there!

This year’s ECIR conference will include an Industry Day, following very successful events at ECIR in recent years. The Industry Day will be held on Thursday 13th April 2017, immediately after the regular conference program.

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5126030385_e67759eb7f_zUnless you’ve been on another planet for the last year or so, you‘ll almost certainly have noticed that chatbots (and conversational agents in general) became quite popular during the course of 2016. It seems that every day a new start up or bot framework was launched, no doubt fuelled at least in part by a growth in the application of data science to language data, combined with a growing awareness in machine learning and AI techniques more generally. So it’s not surprising that we now see on a daily basis all manner of commentary on various aspects of chatbots, from marketing to design, development, commercialisation, etc.

But one topic that doesn’t seem to have received quite as much attention is that of evaluation. It seems that in our collective haste to join the chatbot party, we risk overlooking a key question: how do we know when the efforts we have invested in design and development have actually succeeded? What kind of metrics should be applied, and what constitutes success for a chatbot anyway?

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user-experience-diagramMost of us who work on digital products are familiar with the concept of A/B or multivariate testing – the process of exposing users to multiple variations of a design concept and using their aggregate behaviour to identify the optimal design, based on a predefined set of metrics. By gathering data across thousands of individual user sessions, multivariate testing can provide a rigorous evidence base for principled decision making. In principle, such data-centric, quantitative research techniques can be highly complementary to the more qualitative, user-centric research techniques typically associated with the UX profession.

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irsg

On Wednesday last week I had the honour of co-chairing the 11th Search Solutions conference at BCS London in Covent Garden. As always, the event included presentations, panels and keynote talks by influential industry leaders on novel and emerging applications in search and information retrieval. But this year’s event was memorable for a different reason: we were delighted to be able to reveal the outcome of the inaugural IRSG Search Industry Awards. In a ceremony held at the close of Search Solution 2016, it was my honour to announce the winners for the following three categories:

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