With the holiday season here, let’s talk about one of the most impressive service delivery stories out there—Santa Claus and his horde of elves who work hard to ensure the end of our year is filled with cheer and good tidings. As members of the IT field, we can appreciate just how much of a logistical nightmare delivering millions of the right gifts on time really is!

But even a team as experienced as Santa & Co. has a thing or two to learn when it comes to understanding the newer, tech-savvy generation and their expectations, much like the IT leaders of today who will have to meet the workspace expectations of Gen Z.

The “service delivery” nightmare before Christmas 

As the years roll by and the demands of children continue to change, Santa & Co. have realized that their approach to the holiday season, with their existing service delivery and support platforms, is just not enough. In their annual North Pole board meeting, the course of action was decided: It was time to upgrade their gift delivery process. They aimed to take stock of the latest trends in the service delivery space that could help them cater to the demands of the current generation.

 Santa, the chief elf officer (CEO), and the C-sweet team managed to narrow their goals to three Es for the perfect hol-EEE-day season.

  1. Experience

The old school method of writing letters to Santa was both out of style and logistically unviable for kids in the digital age. Looking to modern consumer tech was the smartest way to approach the experience problem. So, it was time to incorporate digital portals and mobile apps that could deliver personalized and unique experiences.

This should jingle a few bells for tech leaders who face a similar experience problems in their own businesses. Traditional portals lack the features and capabilities to enable good user experiences, making them a chore to use.

  1. Efficiency

Every year, children request the newest toys, apps, video games, and services. This meant traditional rule-based automations led elf teams into a cycle of spending significant effort on building and updating rule-based automations to meet the growing list of gift categories and options. Additionally, all queries and questions related to the gifting process had to be answered by the elves, which ate up a significant portion of their workshop-hours. Given the reliance on technology by businesses and the North Pole alike, traditional automations don’t make the cut; IT and service delivery teams need to become efficient by leveraging the latest tech available.

  1. Excellence

High availability equals excellence. If the gifting portal goes down, people can’t order gifts for themselves or loved ones, ruining a major part of the holidays and delaying massive gift pipelines. It was imperative for Santa and his team to keep threat actors away and ensure their platform was always available for people to use, especially during the busiest time of the year. Security and availability was a key area they had to focus on, much like any tech leader’s role today.

Now with the key areas identified, the team used the latest trends and technology to help them elevate their gift delivery strategy.

Modern solutions for modern problems

Let’s see how Santa & Co. leveraged the latest trends in tech to streamline service delivery and save the holidays.

Hyper-granular personalization for the modern gift-giver

Everyone has varying expectations, interests, and wants when it comes to choosing a gift for themselves or others. The ability to offer unique choices and services for each person can help them choose better and improve their experience with the gifting portal. AI and ML’s ability to process a huge variety of data points, like demographics, age, interests, and being on the nice or naughty list, all give valuable insight into what a person likes and what gift options they deserve. Using this historic data, AI and ML can learn to identify patterns and offer bespoke experiences to make the act of spreading cheer a joyous experience in itself.

Lessons for the modern CEO from Santa & Co.: Break beyond the conventional self-service portals and enable hyper-granular personalization at a modern consumer-tech standard by leveraging AI and ML capabilities.

Sprinkling context to sweeten conversations with GenAI

Choosing a gift takes a lot of thought. And when there’s a lot of thought, there are also a lot of questions. Answering every question from gift-givers during the holiday season is definitely not the most efficient way for our team of elves to be spending their valuable time. That’s where the power of GenAI comes in. Its ability to understand context and draft coherent answers is just what the elves need to answer the thousands of “Can I gift an Apple Music subscription?” or “What are the options of bicycles available?” questions. GenAI-powered chatbots can offer solutions, answer queries, and perform a variety of tasks. Delivering such high-quality information at the initial touchpoint further enhances the holiday experience.

Lessons for the modern CEO from Santa & Co.: Free up your technicians from L1 tickets and trivial, repetitive queries through powerful and intelligent GenAI-enabled chatbots that can mimic human responses to address end-user queries.

An elves-off approach with on-the-go automations

With the ever-increasing list of gift categories and unique gifts, the team of elves found themselves spending a significant time and effort just updating their automations to accommodate the dynamic conditions. This gave them the opportunity to leverage predictive ML. Predictive ML uses historic data to predict and suggest various parameters of the gift request, like the elf group it should to be assigned to or the delivery timeframe. Now the elves don’t have to worry about constantly updating automations and can focus on the more important task of coming up with new and interesting ways to make people smile.

Lessons for the modern CEO from Santa & Co.: Stop relying on a finite set of rule-based automations and use the power of predictive AI to enable swift contextual workflows and automation.

Accelerate delivery with multi-platform orchestration

Digital services, like Netflix subscriptions, in-game currency, and digital copies of video games, make for great gifts. They’re also gifts that don’t need to be physically fulfilled by the elves. With cross-platform workflow automations, these requests can be completely automated end-to-end, making things even easier. While the task might seem simple enough, buying Apple One subscriptions or V-Bucks for Fortnite players, over and over, can add up to a significant amount of workshop-hours. By leveraging cross-platform workflows, actions like buying a subscription or placing an order on Amazon can be executed without any elfin intervention. This frees up the team of holiday-savers from being bogged down by manual, repetitive tasks and lets them focus on more fun holiday activities, like perfecting the formula for the best chocolate chip cookies.

Lessons for the modern CEO from Santa & Co.: Move beyond point integrations between your spectrum of IT and business management applications. Enable smooth orchestration of workflows across applications by leveraging a unified IT and service management platform like ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus.

Adopting a security-first approach to save the holidays

All of the above improvements are meaningless if the entire gifting portal itself goes down due to either infrastructure failing or, more importantly, external attacks from the Grinch or like-minded allies. With so many new components added to their arsenal, it was vital for Santa & Co. to improve their monitoring efforts to keep track of their infrastructure and ensure everything was up and running flawlessly. This took care of internal fallacies, but to tackle outside attacks, a focus on cybersecurity was vital. Powerful integrations with various IT infrastructure monitoring solutions can help reduce the time taken to identify and respond to issues that can cause potential disruptions. Integrations with user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) solutions act as the proverbial “elf on the shelf” to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior from gift-givers or their IT components. This helps minimize the impact of attacks on the overall operations of our holiday heroes.

Lessons for the modern CEO from Santa & Co.: Well, this is a no-brainer! If you’re still struggling to plan an IT security strategy for your organization, we’ve got you covered. Read how Zoho handles cybersecurity with ManageEngine. Read the e-book.

With these new features in place, Santa & Co. were ready to face this year’s holiday rush knowing they had what it takes to successfully put a smile on everyone’s face.

This story also serves a great reminder for us IT service management folk that there is a lot of new and existing tech that can be leveraged to improve our service delivery experiences. ITSM is not different from what Santa & Co. is doing every single year, and after this holiday season, let’s take a page (or the whole playbook) from them to revamp our capabilities and give our end-users joy. Happy Holidays!

Jendra John
Marketing Analyst