Santa's gone virtual this Christmas

Profile picture for user pwainewright By Phil Wainewright December 24, 2013
Summary:
How does Santa get presents to children all over the world on Christmas Eve? Social networking and crowdsourcing, of course!

Santa in Flight
Have you ever wondered how Santa can possibly deliver presents to every single household around the world, all in the space of a single night?

It's a question Santa himself has been asking more and more in recent years. It had become such a troubling question that his long, white beard used to tremble and shake as he tut-tutted to himself every so often.

Magic can go a long way, it's true. But with so many more children being born every year, Santa realized the time had come for a change. Receiving all those letters in the mail and delivering the children's presents single-handed suddenly seemed so very old-fashioned.

Over the years, his single-sleigh distribution system has been the trusted mainstay of his service. But it had become so overstretched it was in danger of snapping like an elastic band that's been pulled too far. Santa needed another way that was more stretchy (or, as the adults like to say, 'scalable').

So this year, Santa has gone virtual.

Santa gets social

Many of the kids no longer write letters these days, anyway. Even if they do, sometimes the letters get mislaid or delayed. Occasionally, children change their minds or think of something else after they've sent off their letters. And most of them arrive very late in a waterfall of requests that can be very challenging to work through and still deliver by Christmas Day.

This year, aided by his industrious elves and faithful reindeer, Santa has been listening to social media. They've all been tuning in to what the children have been saying to their parents, friends and relatives — and picking up all kinds of clues to what they really want for Xmas.

They've even put some of these conversations into a big sack at Santa's warehouse and cast a magic spell called 'predictive analytics'. This tells them what presents the children want before they even know themselves!

To help detect naughty behavior by some of the more spoilt children, sometimes they downloaded special, secret 'Santa-ware' apps to the children's iPads and iPhones. Based on what the elves learned, those children won't be getting everything they asked for. They can thank the goblins at the NSA and GCHQ, who taught the elves how to do it.

Crowdsourced distribution

As for the overloaded workshop and sleigh delivery system, Santa had thought long and hard. In previous years, he had considered bringing in outside helpers. But he had been afraid of losing the personal touch for which he is famed.

The answer was obvious once it had dawned on him. With all those toy factories around the world, why not have them do the manufacturing instead of doing it all in-house? This year, Santa has crowdsourced the manufacturing and distribution of presents.

He has commandeered all the parents and relatives to order the presents over the Internet (which is almost as magical as the old sleigh-based system anyway). Then instead of Santa having to climb up and down all those millions of chimneys and roofs on Christmas Eve to put the presents in the children's homes, the parents do it for him — they are his very own virtual logistics network. How very 21st century!

Of course the elves were grumpy at first at all this change. But now they've realized their work is much more fun than before — traveling around the world to keep the factories on schedule, chasing down gremlins (they love that!) and casting spells to make Christmas more magical for the children.

Santa loves having more time for personal appearances. He proudly showed me a dashboard on his iPad that he uses to keep track of everything. "I keep it stuffed down the back of my trousers so the children don't see it," he told me with a twinkle in his eyes. "That's a trick I learned from Marc Benioff."

So when you look up at the night sky on Christmas Eve to try and spot Santa in his sleigh, you're even less likely to see him this year than ever before. Santa's gone into the cloud.

Disclosure: Salesforce.com is a diginomica premier partner. The author has two children and is a participant in Santa's virtual logistics network. No reindeer or elves were harmed in the creation of this story.

Image credit: © James Steidl - Fotolia.com