Retail Operations

How Santa is Being Tech Savvy this Christmas

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How Santa is Being Tech Savy this Christmas

Santa and IBM


Santa Claus

The biggest selling season for retailers is coming, for us it may seem even distant, but the Christmas, New Year and Epiphany require a lot of preparation in advance.

Among those preparing all year for these events is Santa Claus who does a great deal of analysis of information from customers (children around the world.) He needs to know what the trend in toys, clothing, electronics and other products is, to meet the changing tastes of children. Beforehand must-have prepared the labor, materials and inventory to meet demand. He must have the right stocks to avoid waste. Organize activities to avoid re-work and get everything done at the right time. For him, to give the present a day later, will be useless.

For this you have to know what was the behavior and school grades of each child, classify them, assign the right present to everyone, and once you have that information deliver the present it in the right place, on time.

But how is that only on man, even being Santa is capable of doing it?

Big Data

Let’s begin with the required infrastructure, besides him being Santa and having a flying sled, they still need computing resources to access and process all the information regarding the children whom he is looking to make happy. As of today and according to UNICEF there are some 2,200 million children in the world. Only to gather all the demographics of such a quantity of kids is a huge task that seems impossible, moreover the information needs to be enriched with location, time-zone, family type (only child, siblings, how many) and the children’s likes.

That is solved using a platform that allows gathering and analyzing all the data available from the kids quickly to get current information when it’s needed.


Even though Santa has to gather children’s information all year round, he only needs a huge processing power during a rather short period of time to develop the logistics, production and distribution of the kid’s presents. Because of that it’s required to have a large number of servers and computers and that will be an expense that does not adds up benefits due to the underutilization of it, it will only be intensely used during the holiday season when the presents are prepared and delivered. So Santa’s choice is to have only a small amount of physical servers in his facilities to carry on their day-to-day, routinely tasks and, when it’s needed, ask for some more processing power tailored to the specific requirements to have exactly what is needed and when the demand lowers, dismiss it and pay only for what was really used.


When all the kid’s data is at hand, Santa has to analyze it, detect present’s preferences that have been selected the preceding years to know what would they like for the next year and plan in a proactive way to cover the child’s demands and do so with the right present, according to his age, country, gender and take into account how they behave during the year, his school grades and his engagement on the housekeeping. To get insight regarding what each kid wishes, Santa has to analyze some hundreds of millions of letters with unstructured data or free text.

Based on the results from the analytical models, decisions will be made as to the type and quantity of presents required, how to allocate it, how to search for and train the labor, the packaging and storage of the presents, as well as the delivering route to get them delivered on time and correctly according to what each child’s wished.


Nowadays kids are some of the main users of social, there they chat, share and spend time with his friends and along the way they left information about their likes and habits, that is why you have to listen to them whenever they are communicating and is important to engage them in their own terms, to reinforce the knowledge about every one of them and be able to offer them the exact present they are looking for.

To gain insight into the trends in the social networks and take corrective actions right on time with regards to the children that did not get the present they were expecting or comments from grown-up kids that start to lose faith in Santa. Is possible to detect those kinds of comments and know the impact would have in the child’s to react accordingly to keep the kids illusion on Santa.


The mobile devices explosion, the improvement on the wireless internet connections and longer battery life has propelled the use of mobile devices by children that also have mobile devices as their preferred presents for Christmas; they use it to access social networks, communicate and play. Then is there where you have to look for ways to engage and get to know them to offer the best presents based on their preferences, friends and apps they use, even their location to know where they are and which channel is best to deliver the present. Considering that the present now could be electronic (a game or an app).


Data security is now one of the hottest issues is getting more relevance and focus every day and many times we do not even notice it, however with the type and quantity of data about the children that Santa has, he must be extra careful to be sure that it will be used only to choose the best present and deliver it on time, without this information being used for other purposes or make benefits from it in an unauthorized way.

And most important, ensure system’s and data security without make the processes sluggish neither the operation to keep it agile and readily to answer to Santa’s needs whenever is required, with no worries about issues not related to Santa’s main concern, the kids.


Putting together the storing and data analyzing capabilities to transform it into information with Big Data; using an adaptable Cloud infrastructure tailored for the changing business’s needs; analyzing the historic and current data to gain insight regarding the future trends using Analytics; through all the new Mobile devices available; interacting with the kids in all the Social channel they are in and in the way they pay attention more effectively. Everything with high Security and in a trusted way without concern for Santa.

With IBM’s help to have all the infrastructure, resources and information, Santa worries only about getting the best present on time for every kid.

Please let me know your thoughts about it.

Follow me on Twitter @garabujo77

Marketing Technologist

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