App Christmas Carol, By Chuck Dickens

DigiWeDo have been working with the City-based firm Scrooge and Marley for about a year now. The CEO, Mr Ebenezer Scrooge, is a demanding client. But the assignment is now going brilliantly.

We prepared extensively. Even before visiting his office, we noticed that Mr Scrooge and his business were not on Facebook or Twitter. Keen to test the relevance of the full range of Digital disruptors to his business, we set up new accounts for him. However, even after a whole month, no one had friended him on Facebook. And responses to the first tweet we posted for him – hi LOL *smiley face* laters – were so abusive we had to report hundreds of trolls to the authorities, especially those who suggested things that were not anatomically possible.

Our preliminary pitch, last Christmas Eve, was not a success. Our client was uncomfortable with first name terms or even affectionate ice-breaking nicknames, all the rage in Shoreditch. If his reaction to Ebo was stern, he was pretty violent about 'Nezer the Geezer.

Mr Scrooge works in financial services, making small loans to high risk groups. We suggested he could get a clearer understanding of his market and reduce the chances of default, by looking at potential customers’ Big Data footprints. Who their friends are on Facebook and who they follow on Twitter might provide clues to their socio-economic status and ability to pay.

In response, Mr Scrooge said something that sounded like “Dumb bug”. Scrooge’s office is pretty analogue in nature. His EA, Bob Cratchit, still uses pen and ink, double-entry book keeping and Myspace. So we took this outburst to reflect Mr Scrooge's belief that computers are stupid because of his concerns about a virus attack. Dumb. Bug. This reminded us of one of our capabilities. We offered him our own unique firewall protection Bar Scum Bugs, which can deal with any Trojan or virus. (Or anything. It works on the precautionary principle, by blocking all emails, even those from your mother – a bonus for some of our clients). We realised our error soon enough. Mr Scrooge was referring to a small boiled sweet which he seems to be fond of, though we’ve never seen him eat any.

The meeting then went from bad to worse. Scrooge got very cross when we suggested he could give his customers iPads to let them communicate with him more easily and self-manage their accounts. It soon became clear that Scrooge's business model depends on many clients not being able to pay, allowing him to foreclose and confiscate their homes. So we pitched him an analytical tool we developed for a payday loans company, which creates a Venn diagram of those needing loans and those most likely to default – criminals, gamblers, former Premiership goalkeepers. He started to get interested.

However, at that moment, some charity reps came in and asked for money for the poor. Their door to door collection approach was old-fashioned. We were about to pitch them a more effective money-making scheme – our Complete Banker app makes the number you dial from look like a legitimate financial institution, allowing you to ask people for their account details – when Mr Scrooge asked “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”

Straightaway, using our proprietary search engines Incarcer-Rate and WKHoWZs we were able to answer that yes, there were large numbers in the area, several of the latter owned by the Department of Work and Pensions. And when Mr Scrooge suggested it would make sense for the poor to die “and be quick about it, to decrease the surplus population” we deployed our patent analysis tool DataDayDeaths and showed that increased mortality among the poor would indeed be public spirited, helping close the structural deficit five years sooner than the Chancellor predicts (in about 2075).

After the gentlemen left, we tried to interest Bob Cratchit in how a smart NEST thermostat could save him money heating the office. However, the office temperature was already minus 11 degrees, described on the NEST gauge as “inhumanely efficient”, a reading we had not seen since our last assignment with a low-cost Irish airline.

Determined to make an impression, we followed Mr Scrooge home, deploying Google Maps several times as we got lost among the City’s slums, sewers, gin joints, whorehouses and consulting firms. To our surprise, Mr Scrooge invited us in. He looked scared. He said his old partner Jacob Marley had appeared to him and warned him to change his life. We noticed that Mr Scrooge was not wearing Google Glass and so couldn't be accidentally viewing the incriminating Marley photos a disgruntled customer had posted on Instagram. So we assured him that Marley was dead. We were certain of this. It said so on Wikipedia.

Comforted, Mr Scrooge went to bed, but begged us to stay.

Well, it was quite a night. We were wrong about Mr Scrooge. Despite initial appearances, it was clear that his domestic entertainment system is one of the most sophisticated in the world. We were treated to a multi-media 3D sound and light image show. State of the art. Three entertainers – the first two were quite good, the last one, frankly a bit creepy, and there was a loss of sound during his performance – presented the story of Scrooge's life. The show even revealed his future, presumably using a sophisticated predictive algorithm.  We were unsure where the entertainers went after the show, but guessed from their apparent disappearance into thin air that the system must be Cloud-based.

Anyway, the next day Mr Scrooge was a new man. He asked a passing boy to go and get the biggest goose in the local butcher's shop and send it round to his nephew Fred. We interrupted this transaction, much to the annoyance of the boy, and pointed out that in this omni-channel age a range of quality geese could be sourced and despatched using Ocado's click and collect system. (It was only later that we realised that the collection point was closed on Christmas Day, but Fred was pretty relaxed about it.)

Then Mr Scrooge went to Bob Cratchit's house – we couldn't convince him that Skype was just as festive – and we partied. We also helped Mr Scrooge crowdsource support for Bob's son, launching a global ice-bucket challenge to raise a staggering £4 under the hashtag #TinyTimsNewCrutch

Since then, our partnership with Mr Scrooge has gone from strength to strength. The Scrooge app we developed for him – it provides you with an interactive Youtube recipe for gruel and puts a Bah, Humbug ringtone on your smartphone, guaranteed to endear you to other commuters – was Apple's 1763499560931st best seller on Cyber Monday. We've helped Mr Scrooge achieve the reputation as one of the most generous men in East London – after Leyton Orient’s defence – through a series of relentless social media campaigns. We think these will culminate next year in Mr Scrooge being signed up for Celebrity Big Brother, alongside Mr Micawber, Fagin, Steve Davis and Penny Mordaunt.

And working with Mr Scrooge has reminded us of the true meaning of Christmas.


Written for the MCA Year of Digtal