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Making Toys Digital: A cautionary Christmas tale

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Santa was completely sold on the idea of modernising his gift ordering and fulfilment process. But the promise of efficiencies and cost savings failed to deliver the necessary Christmas cheer.

21st Dec 2023
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Santa knew that he should have listened to Mrs Santa. Mrs Santa had what is widely known as common sense and she wasn’t easily taken in by tricksters and charlatans.

The computer people were introduced to Santa by the elves, and they appeared to be honest and open people. Their idea seemed sound and eminently sensible. It was a plan to modernise the ordering and delivery of Christmas gifts. They had a catchy name for it too: Making Toys Digital (or MTD for short). 

Old-fashioned letters to Santa and department store visits by children would be a thing of the past, saving so much time and travel. Instead, children would select gifts online and submit requests digitally. Quarterly gift requests would smooth out the elves’ workload. What could possibly go wrong?

Mrs Santa dismissed the idea. Department store visits and handwritten lists had worked well for decades, if not centuries. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was her response. Regardless, Santa pressed ahead with the software companies, mesmerised by their promises of greater efficiencies and reduced costs.

Jingle alarm bells

Having failed to listen to Mrs Santa, alarm bells should have been ringing when Santa came across problems in the first trial. The software developers needed willing participants in a particular subset of users – those with straightforward gift requirements and adequate IT skills. Parental permission was, of course, needed but of all the millions of children across the world, only eight met the precise criteria for the trial. Unfortunately, all gradually withdrew as their circumstances changed. 

Two moved house with their parents and their new home did not have suitable internet access. Three parents withdrew consent due to the amount of data being asked of their children. Two children had the audacity to request gifts that were made by businesses local to them, and not the multinationals favoured by the software companies. The final child turned out not to have English as their first language. As a result, they struggled to cope with the online forms.

By this time, Santa felt that he had invested quite a bit of time and effort into the MTD project. Although Mrs Santa told him to abandon it and cut his losses, Santa felt he had to press on. The software companies wanted a return on their investment and how could he change course now without losing face? A delay in the launch date would be needed, but Santa could see little alternative.

Making connections

The second phase of testing went ahead, but the elves brought worrying feedback. So many areas did not have adequate internet coverage. Exemptions from the scheme would have to be introduced for all the children in remote areas – and some areas with poor coverage were not that remote. Parents were reluctant to give online access to young children, concerned as they were regarding their safety. 

There were further issues regarding the younger children’s reading abilities. Visits to grottos would make it easier and indeed possible for the little ones to make their gift requests. Older children had the inconvenient tendency to make unusual requests, with no regard for the standard options offered by the multinationals. Requests for ponies and dogs all needed to be checked manually, massively reducing efficiency. Young children in the northern hemisphere requested paddling pools in summer, which were inappropriate as December gifts. 

Then there were those with non-standard gift days, with some countries wanting gifts to be available on Christmas Eve, or on dates aligning with Christmas in the orthodox churches. 

Further testing did not improve matters. Parents stubbornly restricted their young children’s access to the internet, bizarrely regarding their online safety as more important than the MTD project. Santa tried to persuade various countries to change their gift dates to a recognised standard but it seemed there were cultural and practical objections to this. 

Christmas miracle

Good news came with international restriction on the computer giants. Across the world, growing fears of the powers of an uncontrolled internet led to international treaties restricting the data that could be collected and stored. The MTD project had to be cancelled without any blame being attached to Santa. Yes, he was criticised for putting so much effort into a doomed project, but the eventual cancellation was not his fault. 

And so it was back to the old-fashioned but reliable ways of grotto visits and paper lists, but it did mean that presents would be delivered accurately and everyone would enjoy a Merry Christmas.

Replies (4)

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Tornado
By Tornado
21st Dec 2023 18:10

Let that be a lesson to us all!

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By FactChecker
21st Dec 2023 19:49

Please send a copy of this to [email protected] ... he must be in need of a laugh!

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Replying to FactChecker:
Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
22nd Dec 2023 18:23

I doubt Jim would appreciate the irony. He didn't in front of a committee of MPs

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Image of Donald Drysdale, Author
By Donald Drysdale
22nd Dec 2023 15:47

Best tax article I've read in ages! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers.

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