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Santa Claus may not have upgraded his outfit in decades, but he’s no stranger to high tech, and this year, thanks to a range of big data technologies, Kris Kringle is reconfiguring his gift-giving operation for improved efficiency and better customer service.
Big data analytics will allow Santa to spend much more time at local malls snapping holiday photos with families and a lot less time riding his sleigh all over the world. After all, there was that sad incident with Grandma getting run over by the reindeer …. Plus, it was high time Santa brought his enterprise up to speed with the technological possibilities of the 21st century.
For starters, analysis of historical data allowed Santa to predict, way in advance, who will be naughty or nice, giving him plenty of time to figure out warehousing and delivery logistics. And there’s no reason to send a note to the North Pole — the elves implemented a customer-recognition engine, enabling them to predetermine the gift you’ll ask for, based on previous requests. After all, if Amazon is on its way to knowing what to ship you before you place an order, think of the insights all your past holiday wish lists provide when the elves analyzed Father Christmas’ massive global database.
Speaking of the elves, they’ve been underutilized all these years, relegated to manual tasks like sorting, wrapping and delivering. But thanks to rapid growth in on-demand home delivery services like Shoprunner, those duties can be outsourced. Innovations in this field allow couriers to find the most efficient routes to the nearest client, all via mobile GPS data. And so the magic of data frees the elves to deal with strategic issues — a much better use of their talents.
This year, Santa will task the elves with data analytics, a job that no longer requires an IT degree (which only a small percentage of the elves possess — little known fact!). Instead of manual labor, these newly minted white-collar workers will analyze historical data collected over decades to find better ways to improve customer satisfaction with the yuletide gifting enterprise.
Santa’s elves relegated to data geekdom? Why not — it is the sexiest job of the 21st century. They will track delivery times, accurate deliveries, and other CPIs (Christmas Performance Indicators) deemed crucial for organizational efficiency. They will engage in data mining across the Internet and social media to find out who’s been badmouthing Santa and make sure he or she will come out with a better impression this time around.
With the Internet of things becoming much more of a … thing, Santa Claus’ gift giving can be expected to become much less of a fire-and-forget type of operation. It’s safe to assume that a significant portion of this year’s Christmas gifts will consist of mobile devices, wearables, and a vast assortment of other appliances, connected to the Internet and sending out constant electronic signals. This way, Santa will be able to track his gifts in real time, see which ones are bringing joy to their recipients and which are left to gather dust on the mantles. These insights will help him further improve his efforts to bring the spirit of Christmas to everyone in the world, by getting them the gifts they most enjoy. Plus, he’ll know not to bother sliding down the chimney of certain homes because their lack of Fitbit activity indicates a high likelihood the cookies on the plate for Santa will have already been eaten.
And when you really start getting into big data, the possibilities are endless. On the roadmap for future holiday seasons: Santa dividing world data by gift preferences across age, geography and other key demographic information; adjusting his coal-gathering and gift-manufacturing well in advance to accommodate for seasonal needs; maybe even finding the places with the highest concentration of “naughty” and sending the Ghost of Christmas Past to use his special methods to encourage (or spook) them to do better next year.
Who knows what else Santa and the elves will find as they learn more about mashing up data? Today’s business intelligence will allow them to find answers to questions they might never had even thought of asking. And, more importantly, provide query results so quickly that there’s plenty of time to sit together under a massive red Snuggie and watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
What? You didn’t think they like that flick? Really — it’s a classic.
Adi Azaria is a cofounder of business-intelligence software provider SiSense.
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