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New Jersey Helps Kringle Corp. 
    Perform Technology Upgrade (12/2000)

    by Douglas Dixon

It has just been revealed that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has been working on a secret project with Kringle Corp., Inc. to perform a technology upgrade of the entire Kringle corporate enterprise inventory and delivery infrastructure. Commented Santa Claus, the Kringle Corp. CEO, "New Jersey and you, ho, ho, ho!"

For the past year, elves from the Kringle Corp. technology division have been taking classes at The College of New Jersey to upgrade their skills in Web design and programming, particularly in the object-oriented languages C++ and Java. The elves attended the college incognito, and apparently this experiment was a holly jolly success.

Kringle Corp. was originally attracted to New Jersey as a logistical and distribution center because of its location adjacent to a northernly shipment route. Due to the steady growth in its client population, and the increasing bulk and weight of its deliverables, Kringle Corp. needed to develop a more decentralized approach to inventory management.

With funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, Kringle Corp. established a warehouse and distribution center near Newark Airport, with access to air and snow transportation. The Port Authority of New Jersey estimates this location will lighten the load for the Kringle delivery vehicle, allowing it to travel more rapidly during transit through other continents, and then stop in Newark to take on the sacks for this continent. This reduces time from warehouse to tree, which is particularly important for perishable goods such as partridges and figgy pudding.

In order to better manage its inventory and deliverables, Kringle Corp. has been working with database and artificial intelligence experts from Princeton University to develop an integrated client and gift tracking and matching database system. With this system, Kringle Corp. can input gift requests and suggestions from clients, and then match them against available inventory and potential suppliers. The database also uses fuzzy logic to make a list that weighs gift quality against client disposition ratings, using a calibrated scale from "naughty" to "nice."

Kringle Corp. also has been able to make use of the Internet to perform more precise client ratings by evaluating the materials that clients are posting and transmitting via the Internet. It is developing automated tools to scan websites, E-mail, and chat room transcripts in order to check twice for troubling client behavior. One future possibility is to provide for direct observation of client goodness, to see them when they are sleeping and when they are awake, by connecting to feeds from microphones and WebCams attached to client PCs.

One major advantage of this new database system is that Kringle Corp. can take advantage of E-commerce suppliers to address the growing need for the more technologically-sophisticated items requested by clients that are replacing the more traditional items manufactured by the legacy Kringle Corp. facilities. In particular, Kringle Corp. has been able to take advantage of automated shopping and bidding systems to reduce stocking costs by selective acquisition of popular and nostalgic items such as golden rings and sweet silver bells through auctions on eBay.

One of the important considerations for this database design was to maintain the security and privacy of the client information. Unfortunately, before the security systems were fully implemented, several young hackers were able to penetrate the system and adjust their own ratings towards the nicer end of the scale. However, they were detected, and, as a result, they had better watch out during the upcoming holiday season for the Lump O' Coal virus embedded in a fruitcake.

Kringle Corp. also worked with Princeton-based communications experts and engineers from several unidentified companies to develop a sophisticated worldwide communications system. This provides constant cellular communications during airborne and rooftop operations, and uses a GPS tracking system installed in the delivery vehicle to monitor progress during the night's run. The specifications for this system were particularly demanding due to the need for it to operate continuously, even when the weather outside is frightful.

The firm is now considering a follow-up project to develop a bionic reindeer power and guidance system for the delivery vehicle. This is intended to automate the sometimes temperamental red-nose guidance system now in use on foggy Yuletide eves.

In recent years Kringle Corp. has become concerned about escalating client pouting over receiving incorrect packages. While some of these reports may be explained by client misjudgments of the type of item for which they are qualified, Kringle Corp. has moved to tighten its delivery processes. All inventory, whether hard goods or plush, is now bar-coded and tracked throughout the Kringle Corp. system. To verify the destination itself, Kringle Corp. is installing universal bar-coded markers on client properties, unobtrusively located near the crown of the chimney.

Finally, Kringle Corp. is also considering the use of biometric identification systems as definitive verification that the correct item has been delivered to the proper individual. Marlton-based Iridian Technologies Inc. (formerly IriScan, Inc.) was planning to bid for this contract until R&D determined that identifying individuals by scanning the iris pattern of the eye is logistically impossible when they are nestled all snug in their beds.