It may be the most efficient manufacturing and precision logistics and customer service operation on the planet, with a wildly successful business model that is built around one huge seasonal event, but it still has room for improvement.
We’re talking about Santa Claus’ North Pole operation, of course, and as good as it may be, it could benefit from the use of blockchain and hyperledger technologies. With a few tweaks, the Jolly Old Elf could be a model for the rest of us when it comes to streamlining and automating business processes.
Let’s make a list – and check it twice – of the ways that these technologies could enhance the entire North Pole supply chain.
Inventory and logistics
Let’s start with inventory and logistics. Using a ledger-enabled logistics platform, the elves can work with trusted suppliers, then track all their materials and goods from order to manufacture to shipment to the warehouse (1 Industrial Drive, North Pole) before moving to the heart of the operation, the workshop.
When each player in the supply chain delivers on its commitment, from raw materials to arrival at the warehouse, any and all payments can be made automatically, without elf intervention, in line with the contract details.
Some of the toys will of course be “connected” gifts, with sensors and intelligence that make them IoT appliances, in effect. But most all of them will have serial numbers, which is important because Santa, as COO, will need a ledger-based process to attest to their make and manufacture, and validate their origin in the event of warranties for the occasional faulty or defective toy.
Even something like a basketball could be validated, to attest that it was manufactured to NBA standards, like it says on the package. It wouldn’t require a long blockchain hash identity, but with a ledger, each ball could offer a viewable – though not changeable – history to show who made it, when, who certified it to NBA specs, who shipped it, what condition it was in when it arrived, and much more.
Santa needs security too
With so much data and information in one place, how can the North Pole Data Center ensure that its information is not hackable? By converting all sensitive information into a hyperledger system and changing all its server admin names and passwords into a crypto hash. That hash can then be split in such a way so that if the top Security Elf should leave Santa’s employment, the security of the data won’t go with him. Santa can’t afford to have a worldful of kids’ IDs just skate away.
And with Santa tracking all those kids to gauge whether they have been naughty or nice, he is obligated – especially now with GDPR and all the European children – to safeguard those youngsters’ privacy. With blockchain, all the background data can be shielded, and the elves and others need only to look at the final block in each child’s chain to determine all that they need to know: was Suzie (not her real name) nice or naughty, and what did she write that she wants under the tree this year?
And there are benefits for each person on Santa’s lists, too. We could simply access the global database via our smartphones and look ourselves up to determine our status. We don’t have to worry that we’ve been wrongly classified as naughty this year, because of the consensus (of parents, teachers, and other stakeholders) behind the blockchain process. Their agreement on whether a naughty block needs to be placed in our chain prevents mistaken classifications from occurring.
Leveraging specialized blockchain-based auctions, the elves can monitor and track the average daily price of materials – admittedly, mostly plastic – and toy subsystems that they will need to order for the workshop. Embedded microcontracts can purchase the necessary inventory automatically, while paying for the orders at the same time using crypto coin. The system ensures a permanent and immutable record of every transaction.
And keeping the reindeer well fed can get costly, too. Because Santa’s stops are all over the world, he needs an easy way to pay for reindeer feed, which of course would be Bitcoin. That’s a big help this year, since a bushel of oats paid by Bitcoin this year is 65 percent less expensive than a year ago.
One more consideration: What if a particular toy just doesn’t measure up? It may be faulty or its “play value” didn’t live up to customers’ (the kids’) expectations. Well, the hyperledger inventory system can include that critical data as a future guide to elves, so they know not to manufacture that toy any longer. Sort of a high-tech version of relegating them to the Island of Misfit Toys.
This has all been in fun, but the truth is that there is a little bit of one North Pole business process or another in virtually every enterprise. And the advantages are clear even for non-seasonally-focused nonprofits. With that thought, we wish you all a Very Ledger Holiday!