Friday, December 11, 2009

The "Santa Intelligence" Team

Thanks to Henrik L Sørensen for his great commentary about the challenges that Santa must experience with regard to data quality (and inspiring this response).

It turns out, little did we all know until this year, that Santa does indeed have a Business Intelligence team.  This year, Disney released a new Christmas special called Prep and Landing that explains some of the secrets behind his success with 3 billion customers.  Warning - spoilers ahead.

In the story of Prep and Landing, we learn first that Santa has a tactical team of elves that go out to houses before he gets there to prepare them for his arrival.  They check to make sure everyone is asleep, stockings are prepared, etc.  Our main protagonist, Wayne, is aspiring for a promotion to Director of Naughty List Intelligence.  We never learn much about this highly prized position (except that Wayne is more suited to operations than analytics), but I think it's easy to speculate based on some of the things we see in the movie:
  • Create ideal flight plans for Santa to optimize his travel around the globe to hit all the Nice List houses most efficiently, taking into account not only the location of the houses, but also the weight of presents to deliver as many high-weight presents as early as possible.
  • Ensure quality of the Naughty List cross-checking names, addresses, family members, and friends to guarantee that no one is accidentally misidentified to be on the list.
  • Develop new Naughty/Nice algorithms and expand the base of behavioral information used in determining which children belong on which list.
  • Identifying "might also like" gifts to add as special surprises for children who reached the top decile on the Nice List.
  • Optimize the priority order for gift assembly throughout the year so that all of the presents of the predicted Nice List are ready by 12/24, without making too many gifts for kids who might end up jumping to the Naughty List as the last minute.
  • Create an optimal work-out schedule for Santa to ensure that he can burn off, over the course of the year, all the extra cookie and milk calories he consumes on Christmas Eve.
 I can only imagine what kind of data warehouse platform Santa must be running.  I'm sure his data center is there at the North Pole... to keep the cooling bills down to a minimum.

No comments:

Post a Comment