RIViR Comes to Santa’s Rescue

RIViR Reads logoI regularly get calls and emails from managers, program directors, and other executives asking how we can help them find efficiencies and boost productivity. A few weeks ago, I received a late night call that wasn’t like any other.

I was dozing off while Keke Palmer was closing out SNL when I got that fateful call. My phone’s buzzer startled me out of my fall into slumber and I snatched the annoying device before it had a chance to wake up the whole house. Through bleary eyes I looked at the caller ID and it read: ‘Mrs. C., North Pole’. It was late.

I answered the call, and I swore I smelled cinnamon and nutmeg. From where, I couldn’t tell you. On the other end of the call an older, charming, and sweet voice began:

“Mr. Mapp, I’m sorry for calling you so late, but I’m in a bit of a pickle,” the sweet voice tittered. “Uh, huh,” was all I could muster. My eyes were barely open and the light from the TV was casting long shadows around my bedroom. I felt my arm falling asleep.

“It’s crunch time around here, and I did some quick analysis. I’ll get to the point with it being so late down there for you. We’re going to miss our Christmas delivery times if we don’t figure some things out!”

“Oh?” I managed. The cinnamon and nutmeg smell was stronger. Is someone baking cookies?

The charming lady pressed her case further, “I read about this product called RIViR on your company’s website. A white paper said something about setting up data analytics with little to no code.”

“Uh, huh.”

“Can we get on a call Monday and talk about it? We’ll use your Zoom for the call.”

“Uh huh, sure,” I replied, somewhere in my grogginess my better business half woke up. “Uh, who is this?”

“I just sent you a meeting request for Monday,” she replied. “You can call me, Mrs. Claus.”

I bolted upright, “Who?” It was too late. Mrs. Claus, THAT Mrs. Claus, had already clicked off.

And that’s how it began. I held a Zoom meeting with Mrs. Claus, Balsam Bell, the North Pole’s Director of Operations; Holly Mistletoe, Director of Logistics, and Magee, Chief and Coordinator of the Christmas Eve Command Center for almost 200 years. On our side, Qlarant’s RIViR technical leadership, one of our data scientists, and our Director of Marketing joined the call.

The Big Guy couldn’t make the call seeing how we were less than 30 days out from Christmas.

The Problem

Population growth across the globe was stretching the North Pole to capacity. Furthermore, Mrs. Claus had influenced Balsam Bell to relax the criteria for making the Nice List given the impact of COVID-19 on children everywhere. Their data analytics were forecasting a 20% increase on households making the Nice List and the just-in-time nature of North Pole production couldn’t meet that demand. Also, elves aren’t just hanging around on Earth, so a brief hiring increase wasn’t possible.

Mrs. Claus roused me from sleep that night to bring Qlarant’s data analytics expertise and RIViR technology to solve the problem.

We learned Santa’s Workshop had been using many of the same processes even though automation was introduced to their organization more than 100 years ago. We modeled their processes using the RIViR Modeler – our workflow mapping tool. We reengineered their production process after working with their operations teams and performing data analysis. We determined the Workshop would see a 15% boost in productivity at 70% elven staffing. That meant we could produce the inventory needed for an increased Nice List, but we would still need to figure out how to fulfil the deliveries.

1.3 billion children live on Earth, and with relaxed Nice List criteria, the percentage of good little boys and girls is higher than ever.  During one of our daily Zoom calls, I suggested running more than one sleigh, and I was met with silence. Balsam Bell looked side-to-side. Magee dropped her cup of coffee. Mrs. Claus shifted topics without an answer and we finished the meeting.

Afterwards, she called me direct. I took the call and smelled cinnamon and nutmeg again. She told me, with prejudice mind you, “running more than one sleigh is a non-starter.” Starting deliveries earlier would probably be met with a stern refusal as well.

Oh well, I always try the non-technical solutions first.

“Santa,” she began, “has a non-negotiable policy that all little girls and boys must be in bed, and asleep, before starting the mission,” she said.

We’re used to working with regulatory and compliance agencies that have non-negotiable policies at Qlarant.

I gulped, “We’ll make it work.”

The Solution

The North Pole provided us with their flight data from the previous 1000 years. They began flight deliveries 600 years after Saint Nicholas made his first deliveries in Myra, Turkey. It was an impressive treasure trove of information correlated with global population growth and the introduction of mortal air travel. We trained a model using unsupervised learning against their dataset and ran simulations using the new magnitude of the Nice List to determine the most efficient routes. Mrs. Claus didn’t just want us to, “let the AI figure it out,” so we wound up using a combination of techniques settling on feeding the output from the model into a KD-tree method used for assigning people to places using great circle distance calculations with great success.

Since we’re an AWS partner, we spun up a private instance of RIViR in our AWS cloud and utilized RIViR’s collaboration features to the max. The Big Guy’s management team, production, and operations were all registered in the system with data, visuals, and statistics shared across North Pole personnel. We graphed all of our results and presented them using RIViR visuals, complete with automatically assigned Courses of Action executed by elves or automated on Christmas Day.

Magee, the Christmas Eve Command Center Coordinator, asked how our work would impact the mortal world, especially since NORAD’s Santa Tracker is a popular attraction year after year. Our answer, NORAD and the rest of the mortal world tracking Santa’s movements would only see a shift in his flight plan. The bulk of our work was done on the back side. We’ll still be using the whole night to deliver 4 billion gifts, almost 3.3 per child on the Nice List.

I think we’re ready. 1.3 billion kids, 4 billion gifts, 1 man, 1 sleigh, 1 helper elf, and 1 night. We just wrapped our last scheduled Zoom call before the big dance on Christmas Eve. After running down the final checklist, and last minute statuses before launch, the Big Guy turned his camera on and gave the Qlarant team the awesomest thanks any customer can give a vendor, “You’ve all been really good boys and girls at Qlarant. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!” He dropped immediately after. You’ll see the largest operation in mortal and immortal history executed this Saturday night on Christmas Eve. If everything goes well…no one will notice.


about the author

Will Mapp

As Chief Technology Officer, Will Mapp keeps a constant eye on the future and ensures Qlarant is at the forefront of the latest and emerging technologies. See all posts from Will Mapp, III.

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