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How Does Santa Answer All Those Letters (And So Much More)? Enterprise Content Management

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holiday2The question is expected. It is delivered well before the last ornament is placed on the tree. Before the stockings are hung. Before the wassail is mulled.

“Daddy, how does Santa deliver gifts to all the children of the world?” my daughter asks. “I mean, how is it even possible?”

“It’s a secret, my dear,” I say, the answer escaping my lips before I even realize it is there. “But I’ll share it, if you promise not to tell a soul.”

There is a moment of hesitation. Then she agrees.

“The secret,” I whisper, “is enterprise content management.”

Her eyes roll. Way back in her head. So far back, I’m certain they’ve come clear around. “Daddy,” she sighs. “C’mon. Really?

“Really,” I say earnestly, then think, isn’t this what 16-year-olds do, not 6-year-olds? “Let me explain …”

Letters to Santa
holiday1“It starts with your letter to Santa. When you drop it in the mailbox, it joins millions of other letters from all around the world, each one delivered to that Jolly Old Elf at his North Pole address.

“They arrive at Santa’s Workshop, where the elves remove tiny candy canes and hand-drawn pictures from each, preparing the letters for high volume batch scanning. They’re rapidly scanned, indexed and archived in a central database, making the letters – and the wish lists within – instantly accessible to every elf, reindeer and snowman up at the Pole. All in seconds.

“You know, for printed letters, those elves actually use an advanced capture solution that automatically reads and indexes the information – Furby, Monster High doll, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots – in each and every letter. (The letters written with crayon take a little more work.) The solution even reads who the letter is from – you ­– and matches your name and address with a unique ID; maybe even your favorite number.

“That unique ID is organized in Santa’s database in such a way that it matches your letter with all the other letters and wishes and parental grievances you’ve ever sent to Santa in the past. It is also used to quickly determine whether you’ve been nice this year, since the information in the Big Man’s Naughty & Nice List is also stored alongside your wish list. So you better be good, for goodness sake.

The Naughty & Nice List
“Speaking of the Naughty & Nice List, do you realize that Santa’s ECM solution is scalable to his global operation? I mean, St. Nick’s clients are boys and girls from everywhere in the world, speaking nearly every language there is. For this, Santa uses a case management application to track behavior 24/7/365, with Case Worker Elves assigned by international region.

“And man, oh, man. Those Case Worker Elves get a 360-degree view of all naughty-and-nice-related information you produce, including good deed records, bad behavior documents, friendly forms and bratty history. They can log arguments with parents. Add updates as to whether you apologized to your Mom or stormed off in a fit. They share insights (‘She’s misunderstood’). Delegate tasks (‘Tell Santa those cookies are gluten free’). And ensure smooth handoffs as cases flow toward desired outcomes (‘I got everything on my list! Yes!’).

“In other words, Santa knows if you’ve been good or bad in real-time. And that information is even available via mobile device when Santa’s on his sleigh. But the Naughty & Nice List is a whole case study in and of itself.

“We should also mention that Santa’s solution is integrated with his patented Toy Management System (TMS) so the elves on the Toy Line and those in the Wish Fulfillment Division never have to log out of the TMS to access your Christmas List. The Big Man’s ECM solution acts as a central repository, intelligently linking your letters and wishes to the toy maker database and gift-and-wrap activities in other applications.

Santa Goes Mobile
“And here’s the kicker. When Santa is zipping around the world, he never lets his iPad fall too far from sight. That’s because his mobile device is his in-the-field connection to the workshop’s ECM solution. From here, he has the ability to do so many things, it’s a wonder Santa doesn’t complete his trip in six hours instead of a full night.

“His tablet takes advantage of the solution’s Geographic Information System integration, which provides access to worldwide maps and gift-drop locations. He can even pull up Christmas lists right from the home’s location via the onscreen map with the touch of a mittened finger.

“Santa even has electronic delivery tickets accessible from his tablet for each home on his route, to make sure every present in his sack lands under the right tree. Displayed via Mobile Workflow, he can check that the delivery is complete, moving the ticket to a ‘delivered’ queue. Each child’s TMS record is then updated to reflect the gift delivery.

“Oh, and remember those Case Worker Elves? Well, they can update WorkView Case Manager apps in real time, assigning ad hoc tasks on the fly if someone goes from naughty to nice while Santa is still en route.

“And, darling dear, wait until I tell you how Mrs. Claus uses personal dashboards and document knowledge transfer …”

… But by now my daughter has drifted off to sleep, visions of sugar plums (or maybe both structured and unstructured data) dancing in her head, knowing Santa’s got it all under control with his simple, yet elegant, ECM solution.

At least, that’s what I believe has put her to sleep, and not my storytelling. After all, believing is what the season is all about, right?

(Ed note: Thanks to Carolyn Kane and Ken Burns for their help and input!)

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