Our COVID-19 response & supporting the relevance community

We’re sorry to burden you with yet another COVID-19 blog to read (everyone seems to have written one – my personal favourites have been from a company selling mattresses and a well-known doughnut shop). However we thought it might be best to summarize what we’re doing at OSC to adapt to what is a rapidly changing situation.

In terms of our expert consultancy, we’re well placed to adapt to this new reality – some of us work remotely already, many of us occasionally work from home and a great deal of our project work supporting search teams has been carried out remotely. In most of our engagements we do travel to visit clients and we realise that there is no real substitute for in-person interaction – but here we are. If we are all to continue to learn and improve how we build relevant search over the next few months, we will all have to adapt accordingly.

Our Discovery engagements, the first step in our Proven Process for successful search projects, can be (and have been) carried out remotely. Three days onsite is replaced by 5–6 half–day sessions so everyone can focus sufficiently and take the extra time required to think and prepare. From past engagements we’ve learned the pros and cons of a remote Discovery and we have a long list of potential mitigations to suggest. Do get in touch if we can tell you more about our Proven Process.

Our training offerings, Think Like a Relevance Engineer, Hello LTR and the new Natural Language Processing for Search course have in the past been delivered in person in a classroom setting. However, we’ve often been asked for remote training for those who couldn’t easily travel and before the current crisis had already been investigating this option. Suffice it to say that we’re massively accelerating the development of our remote training options and we expect to have further news on this very soon – we’re also looking into shorter, bite–size training and learning offerings.

Cancelling our Haystack conference next month was a necessary but difficult decision – our thanks to everyone who submitted a talk and planned to come, you will all be refunded in full of course. We decided not to run an online event instead because we didn’t think we could deliver something of the same quality & value – a large part of Haystack is spending time offline with others from the search and relevance community. In the meantime there’s past talks to watch and we’re considering what we can re–use and re–purpose from this year’s event – more news on this soon. The Solr Meetups we host in London are cancelled until further notice and we won’t be attending any other events until the situation changes. In the meantime do join us on Relevance Slack where there are now over 800 search and relevance professionals (including all the OSC technical team) available for mutual support, information sharing and to help answer your tricky questions.

It’s difficult to know what to expect over the next few months, but one thing we can say is that online interaction, information seeking, question answering and e–commerce are going to become even more important. Search and relevance are of course part of this picture. If you need our help, we’re ready at OSC to support you in any way we can.

With our best wishes to you all,

Everyone at OpenSource Connections