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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog


The Data Analytics of Santa Claus

As Santa prepares for his big night, we thought it would be interesting to dig into the data analytics of the chief elf. Here’s a glimpse at how he determines who gets presents or coal, an inside look at whether Santa is paying his fair share and a couple of resources for tracking Santa’s flight around the world on Christmas Eve.

Santa Has a Tech-Staffing Problem

Dear old St. Nick has a complex process for deciding who’s been naughty or nice, at least according to the Portable North Pole website and mobile app (available on iPhone, iPad and Android.

You start the process by filling in the details about a nice or naughty child or adult and Santa will build a custom video revealing what sort of year he or she had and reveal the results of his or her profile through the “elf-built nice or naughty machine.”

The video (or data visualization for all you data geeks)  is very well done with a geolocation of the subject’s hometown and the present he or she wants the most. The naughty or nice machine resembles the data processors of yesteryear, but we can’t blame Santa as his elves have left for tech jobs over the North Sea as detailed in Office Max’s holiday radio ad campaign.

You can see the Portable North Pole demo below. And don’t forget to check out the Facebook app that allows grown-ups to score their friends on their behaviors this year.


Is Santa Really in the 1%?

SantaIndex2011 The Data Analytics of Santa Claus

If you’ve ever wondered how much money Santa Claus earns each year, his annual salary doesn’t fall into the 1% of people who earn the most money.

The good folks at dug up this data and charted the job description’s average hourly rate, the average number of hours and days worked per year to give Santa a salary of $132,942.’s net worth calculator was involved in this calculation. You’d think the guy would earn some royalties off all his merchandise and movie deals. He could be hiding those in Swiss bank accounts or giving them all to charity. Sadly, Santa’s financial statements are not public information, as he’s not technically a United States citizen or even considered a resident alien.

The estimated $132,500 he makes in a year was calculated based on a number of job descriptions and their average hourly rates as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interestingly, the bulk of Santa’s duties fall under the job title “manufacturing executive” and his other duties as assigned include personal shopping, gift wrapping, labor sourcing and even private investigation.

However, the case was made back in 1993 by accountant Bill Leary and “has yet to be resolved 17 years later,” according to this blog post from MFR Accountants and Consultants in Houston. Some of the highlights of the IRS case against the jolly old elf include:

  • The North Pole has no income tax treaties to mitigate U.S. taxes.
  • Santa’s public appearances around the holidays may require that he register as a resident alien for tax purposes.
  • Mrs. Claus would probably not qualify for the “innocent spouse defense” as she is “an integral part of his Christmas thing and knows everything.”
Plotting Santa’s Christmas Eve Dash
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) utilizes a convergence of four super technologies to track Santa’s one-night trek around the world. They depend on radar, satellites, Santa cams and fighter jets who actually follow Rudolph and his reindeer crew to feed information into Google Maps and Google Earth. Today, kids of all ages can follow Santa on his magical voyage via computer or mobile device. Learn more about the NORAD Tracks Santa project here.
We hope you enjoyed this insight into the data analytics of Santa Claus. Happy holidays to you and yours!

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