First a little bit about me, I am a recently badged black cab driver, my previous career was in IT, to be specific I owned an IT company and I was the software developer for my company. My projects varied a lot between tweaking someone else’s database to writing from scratch a bespoke system. When you take on a new project where you will be writing a bespoke system, you spend considerable time with the client before putting your hands on the keyboard talking about what they want, you normally involve people that are doing the tasks that are going to be computerised at this point, you watch what they do, you take notes about their workflow, mapping some of it into flowcharts for complex processes.
So back to Uber, we are about to demo and they come out with a seemly generous offer of come on their system for 12 months free of charge, sounds great on the surface, but we are talking about Uber here, nothing they do can be deemed generous, far from it, everything they do is about making them more money, I have sat in boardroom meetings with people that their only single interest in anything proposed is ‘how does this make me more money’ Uber are no different. So lets quickly look at Uber and why they have any customers at all, one word sums them up, cheap, so we would just be the expensive end of a cheap product, so the reality is we would not get much business from being on the platform, but worse than this they would be tracking our every move especially if you have an android device as the security settings are much more relaxed on that platform compared to an Apple device. So they would analyse all our journeys they would start to tweak their Sat-Nav software so it behaved more and more like a black cab driver, little things like coming south on Bishopsgate going into Liverpool Street we all know what we do, my guess is their Sat-Nav takes them round Camomile Street to get the left into Liverpool Street, this is one example. Cut thoughts that are not the straightest line but you know the lights are phased in a specific way that it is quicker is another example.
They could produce algorithms that could potentially work out when we get street hails, by looking it us decelerating when all other cars around are not, they could build a picture of where and when we get street hails and target those areas, this is not hard to do.
So what I am saying is this by going onto their platform, you are giving them some of your knowledge, they will be stealing this from you gradually over time you won’t even know its happening, then all those little cut throughs will have Prius cars filling them up and they won’t work anymore.
We have something currently they cannot program, we have human knowledge, Uber would love to be able to computerise us, by going on their system you are enabling them to do so with some of your very hard learnt knowledge.
I will not allow them to de-skill my job by eroding one of my Unique Selling Points, they will be asking for the knowledge to be watered down this is them also chipping away at us, we must fight as hard as we can to maintain the current standard of the knowledge, if it takes 4 years so be it (it took me almost 6 years and I am not moaning about it).
Uber is the enemy anyone going on their platform from our trade will be considered the enemy too, in my mind it is very black and white.