So I’m at the mall yesterday, standing in line at the artisanal juice bar, and this guy hops in place behind me. He’s, how can I say it politely, kind of plump and his wardrobe choice isn’t very flattering: he’s wearing this gaudy red suit (I think it was velvet!) trimmed in white fur.

He starts muttering something about his job and deadlines coming up and how busy he is, so I ask, “What do you do?”

“I’m an executive at a vertically-integrated product manufacturing and logistics corporation headquartered north of here.”

Well that sounds fairly boring, but he seems somewhat, I don’t know, jolly, so I kept the conversation going.

“That sounds fascinating,” I responded. “What type of products?”

“Mostly items for children,” the guy says. “Toys, books, dolls, blocks, games, that sort of thing. We have about 250,000 SKUs and we add about a thousand new products each year. I blame Apple for most of those, but what can you do?”

“Wow,” I say, pretending to be interested since it’s the holiday season and whoop-de-do and hickory dock and all that stuff. “How many customers do you have?”

“Oh, pretty much everyone is a customer at one point or another,” he answers as he flips through some sort of market intelligence app on his smartphone. “Remember that ColecoVision you got for Christmas when you were 12 years old? That came from my factory up north.”

“Wow,” I say again, but no longer pretending to be interested, I’m wondering how this snowflake knows what I got for Christmas in 1982.

“How do you know what I got for Christmas in 1982? And, more importantly, how do you keep track of all of your customer data so that you have access to these types of insights while you’re standing in line at a juice bar?”

“I’m glad you asked,” he replied with a smile. “You see, it’s no coincidence that we’re standing in line at a juice bar. I’ve put on a few pounds over the years and the wife and the elves, um, I mean my associates, are on my back to get in shape. So I’m trying to lay off the cookies and milk and instead I’ve been drinking a lot of beet and wheat grass juice.”

“OK, but what’s that have to do with your customer data?” I ask, fairly confused at this point and hoping that the line speeds up a bit.

“Well, just like me, my customer data was way out of shape,” he starts to explain. “My customers aren’t static, so neither is their data. People move. People plug up their chimneys. People get dogs that bite strangers. People want a stuffed animal five years in a row, then all of a sudden want a light saber. People grow up and stop believing. It never ends, and if you don’t keep your customer data in shape, you start missing out on opportunities to spread joy, um, I mean close deals.”

“Wow,” I reply, this time with genuine interest. “That sounds like the same kind of customer data issues most companies have. How did you get your data in shape?”

“Well, just like getting yourself in shape, it helps to have a fitness plan,” he said. “I met some nice people over at InsideView and they shared with me their ‘Five Steps to Data Fitness’ ebook. It’s a great guide for anyone looking to maximize the value of their customer data by keeping it clean, current, and accurate. I highly recommend it, and, in fact, I’m giving it to a lot of my business partners this year.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” I reply as I hear the hipster juice barista yell for the next in line. “I’ll have to head over to InsideView’s website and download that fitness plan. Thanks for the tip!”

“My name’s Clause, by the way,” the guy says. “Santa Claus. Here’s my card.”

“And one more thing,” he says. “Don’t hold your breath on that 4K TV this Christmas. I have a list, and you’re not on it.”