The Santa Challenge 2 – Analyze All That New Data!

Santa's facing a number of challenges this year related to the pandemic. Can the FICO Platform help?

Santa Claus is facing a challenge in this pandemic year. Kids worldwide can’t sit on Santa’s lap. Elves are in lockdown and he needs to find new toy sources. Plus with Dancer and Prancer self-isolating, he needs a new way to make his worldwide rounds. This calls for advanced AI and decision management technology – enter FICO! The race is on to keep Santa on schedule.


The pandemic is just the latest of Santa’s problems making data-based decisions. Over the years he moved away from parchment and pencil to a computer-based system, but each effort to resolve a new problem resulted in a patchwork of piecemeal Band-Aids, completely isolated from one another with different interfaces and data formats. Then the pandemic came, erasing one of his valuable data sources and threatening to bring Christmas, Inc. to a standstill.

Santa knew he needed to begin at the source and get access to as much data about the children as possible, whether structured or unstructured. FICO set up a comprehensive system for gathering, processing, and categorizing this data.  Santa was thrilled with the result and asked us to take the next natural step: setting up a method for making sense of this newfound glut of useful information. 

Using AI and Machine Learning

FICO understands Santa’s business because Santa has actually been a customer for many years. He first hired FICO to help flag fraudulent wish list letters which were being sent by an organized crime ring in Chicago to scam Santa and get free presents. It was therefore relatively straightforward for FICO to design and implement the right tools to solve Santa’s “analysis paralysis” problem.

We called this engagement Operation Skinny Chimney because just as a chimney needs to only be wide enough to service the fire beneath it, Santa only needs timely, relevant answers to his questions, and nothing more. The best way to take big data sets and distil them into useful insights is to process them using highly tuned AI and machine learning algorithms. FICO has been a leader in this field since we rolled out our first AI models in FICO Falcon Platform back in 1992. And we’ve kept on the cutting edge through continuous innovation, including more than 100 analytics-related patents.

Explaining Every Decision

When developing Santa’s models, we made sure he can explain the decisions he’s made – the last thing he wants is regulators asking why Sanjay got a tricycle instead of a train set, and he can’t say what triggered that call! Explainable AI is one of our specialties, and part of our FICO Platform is FICO Decision Central, a system for developing and monitoring models that makes audits easy.

Now, Santa has access to everything he needs, quickly, to optimize his route and maintain a high nice to naughty ratio – he realizes that when the gifts he gives are not only great, but perfect, that this inspires children who are at risk of misbehaving to get their act together. FICO offers a real-time fraud model for naughty behavior based on past affiliations that leverage explainable AI, and we also offer the tools he needs to empower his elves to build, train, test, and deploy their own models.  And it’s all on the FICO Platform!  

The machine learning technology that FICO deploys is laser-focused on solving relevant problems in specific industries, and because of how the algorithms discover relationships that regular mortals cannot, it constantly gets better, faster, and smarter. Now Santa spends less time and money maintaining his technology infrastructure and more time enjoying the benefits that it affords him. That’s the power of FICO!

Santa Challenge 2 – solved!

Next up: How does Santa make sure he’s got the right gift for every kid – within his budget?

Follow our progress helping Santa week by week at

Find out how you can solve YOUR challenges using the FICO Platform

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