It was a week before Christmas, and Santa’s North Pole workshop was bustling with elves making bikes, dolls, board games, and all kinds of toys for all the children of the world. Santa and Mrs. Clause were walking the workshop floor, helping the elves pull together all the last-minute gifts; when the head elf Spencer runs full speed up to him almost knocking Santa over to deliver a special message.
“Santa, Santa, Santa, I am sorry to bother you, sir. I know you are very busy, but I have some very important news to share with you,” cries Spencer to Santa.
“Are you ok there, Spencer? What is wrong? We are so close to Christmas; I hope you only have jolly news to share.” Santa replied with a grin ear-to-ear showing his rosy cheeks.
“Santa, I know all of us elves have been working hard in the workshop this year preparing for Christmas, but we have unfortunately only read 35% of all the letters the children have sent you with their holiday wish list,” Spencer said. “I am afraid at our pace of reading each letter and entering them into our database we won’t be able to provide gifts for all the children.”
“This does seem like a particular problem, and we cannot disappoint the children,” Santa said back to Spencer. “Let’s call for a family meeting and see who has the best solution to our problem.”
“Let me get right on it!” Spencer flees away to call all the elves to the North Pole ballroom to hold the meeting for Santa to discuss the problem at hand. He is eager and optimistic that one of his fellow elves will be able to help Santa save Christmas.
Santa walks into the ballroom, which is filled with hundreds of elves full of anxiety, and trembling in their chairs, hoping Santa will help them find a solution to ensure no child is without this holiday season. Santa remains standing, looks around, and with a gentle face immediately calms the room.
“Spencer tells me we have a serious problem on our hands,” Santa addressed to the room of elves. “There are 2.2 billion children in the world, we have only read 35% of their letters, leaving 1.43 billion children’s letters to read in less than a week. Now, there is a lot of holiday magic we can do here, but that will still leave a large portion of the letters unread. Who has any ideas of how we can ensure every child receives a gift this holiday season?”
The room remains silent, for what feels like an entire Christmas day, until an elf named Ashling stands in the crowd. “Santa, I think I can do it. I think I know how I can help read the letters and help save Christmas,” says elf Ashling.
“Please tell us your idea Ashling, and don’t hold back any details,” Santa replied.
“As one of your developers on the team, I have been working to perfect our holiday database and think I know of a solution with the help of our holiday bot” Ashling replies with great excitement. “The holiday bot and I have become best friends and helps me with everyday tasks, so I am able to accomplish more things for the children as we prepare for Christmas. Our robot would work harder than any Christmas elf, putting in 24/7 shifts to take the children’s wish lists and digitize them. Once digitized, my holiday bot would use the power of machine learning to extract each child’s wish list into a tidy spreadsheet that we could feed into our database and keep Christmas coming! Santa, we could even cross-reference it against our naughty-or-nice list and send the appropriate amount of coal!”
The room becomes loud, as the elves talk amongst themselves in excitement over a possible solution. Santa and Mrs. Clause grin at each other, and finally, Santa releases a jolly laugh. He draws the room’s attention. “Ashling, this is fantastic, and we are excited to have a solution to help bring gifts to the children,” said Santa. “Does anyone have any questions for Ashling,” he continued.
“But how on earth will it read the handwriting from children? Isn’t that often in cursive depending on their age?” shouted Dorothy in the back row.
“Have no fear Dorothy, with the power of Google Vision, we can detect and read handwritten text from documents or images, we can even detect cursive handwriting and convert that as well,” replied Ashling.
“I also have a question for you Ashling,” asked Willie as he shoots his hand into the air. “What about the fact that children write in multiple languages? If only English-speaking children receive gifts on Christmas, this would be a disaster!”
“Not to worry,” said Ashling, “the machine learning capabilities include the ability to process Latin-based or Cyrillic languages, and even provides support for Chinese and Japanese, allowing for quick structuring of data to automate away 80% of our tedious work. Let’s give the elves a break this holiday season!”
The room becomes silent, all through the house, the attitudes are positive, not a single elf denounced. “Great! We have business buy-in, let’s get to work Ashling!” said Santa.
And only a few days later, Spencer had no complaints; the letters were read, the toys were made, and Santa was able to deliver the gifts to all the children around the world on time. The team beat last year’s throughput by 40%, with 25% higher accuracy, and greatly improved worker-satisfaction scores!
Thanks to Ashling and the holiday bot, they helped Santa save Christmas.