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December 18, 2017

Day 18 - Santa Gram is Coming to Town

Companies all around the world are currently thinking on how best to harness the many possibilities created by new technologies and digitalization. Santa Claus and his business are no different. Imagine all the benefits his workshop could gain from implementing a digital strategy.

When talking about digital transformation, first step for a business is to identify their customers and what they need and want. For Santa Claus, his customers are the children of the world desiring a magnitude of different things, often toys. What his customers expect is a delivery of the goods on an agreed day. Unlike many other entrepreneurs, Santa Claus does not face an increasing amount of competition although he operates on a global market. His customers tend to be pretty loyal. Still, if a wrong item is delivered or the delivery is delayed, also Santa Claus risks losing the faith of a once committed customer. Although Santa has not published any official customer satisfaction rates, the word of mouth is that incidents like this take place every year. Therefore, he has every reason to think how to improve his operations.

First thing Santa could do, is to apply new technologies to achieve more agile and efficient processes at his work shop. According to the public records, Santa’s elves receive half a million letters from loyal customers every year. To make sure every customer gets what they want, the elves must read through all these letters and, if the customer meets the criteria set, prepare the required items. This entails a lot of reading, cross checking of records of good and naughty kids, and sending out requests for action. It’s a textbook example of routine work companies are looking to automate. Training a robot to do the work of elves reading the letters, would liberate these same elves to do more demanding tasks like analyzing the difficult border-line cases of good and naughty and writing personalized replies to all the children. For the actual preparation of toys, Santa could consider investing in 3D printing which in the future might allow a much more streamlined and efficient production.

In addition to the letters he receives, Santa has several customers who do not write to him but wish him to figure out himself what they want. To be able to do this, Santa needs to know what his customers like, what are the current and upcoming trends in toys, what his customers already have, and so forth. To figure this out, Santa’s elves go through massive amounts of data on every child and their families. In this blog text, we will not comment on the ways the elves acquire this data (which seems to be, at least from the privacy point of view, a rather suspicious combination of analyzing the families’ online behavior and receiving information from elves performing reconnaissance missions in the field), but satisfy ourselves in acknowledging that the analysis of this data and forming suggestions based on it is, again, something that could easily be automated by the use of machine learning or in the future even artificial intelligence.

Finally, an important part of Santa’s service promise is the personal delivery of goods on Christmas Eve. There exists no commonly accepted scientific explanation on how Santa and his pack of reindeer carry this out. However, a fact is, that due to his tight schedule Santa’s time with every child is limited to a quick chat or a song at maximum. Sometimes he even needs to resort to using stand-ins. To solve this problem Santa could consider using 3D hologram technology. Although 3D holograms might not be the most hyped of the new technologies, they would allow Santa Gram to visit personally and spend much more time with all the children, creating a top-notch customer experience.