Information on the wear and tear on engines possible problems and times for

Information on the wear and tear on engines possible

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Information on the wear and tear on engines, possible problems, and times for scheduling maintenance are all derived. These data are immensely useful in blocking out competitors and in securing a competitive advantage against any outside maintenance firm that may hope to break into the market. Data on how the engines perform have also been crucial for developing new models: they enabled Rolls Royce to improve fuel efficiency and to increase the life of the engines, and generated another competitive advantage over other jet engine manufacturers. Once again, platforms appear as an optimal form for extracting data and using them to gain an edge over competitors. Data and the network effects of extracting them have enabled the company to establish dominance. Lean Platforms In the context of everything that has just been described, it is hard not to regard the new lean platforms as a retrogression to the earliest stages of the internet-enabled economy. Whereas the previous platforms have all developed business models that generate profits in some way, today’s lean platforms have returned to the ‘growth before profit’ model of the 1990s. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have rapidly become household names and have come to epitomise this revived business model. These platforms range from specialised firms for a variety of services (cleaning, house calls from physicians, grocery shopping, plumbing, and so on) to more general marketplaces like TaskRabbit and Mechanical Turk, which provide a variety of services. All of them, however, attempt to establish themselves as the platform upon which users, customers, and workers can meet. Why are they ‘lean’ platforms? The answer lies in an oft-quoted observation: ‘Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles […] and Airbnb, the largest accommodation provider, owns no property.’ 57 It would seem that these are 39
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asset-less companies; we might call them virtual platforms. 58 Yet the key is that they do own the most important asset: the platform of software and data analytics. Lean platforms operate through a hyper-outsourced model, whereby workers are outsourced, fixed capital is outsourced, maintenance costs are outsourced, and training is outsourced. All that remains is a bare extractive minimum – control over the platform that enables a monopoly rent to be gained. The most notorious part of these firms is their outsourcing of workers. In America, these platforms legally understand their workers as ‘independent contractors’ rather than ‘employees’. This enables the companies to save around 30 per cent on labour costs by cutting out benefits, overtime, sick days, and other costs. 59 It also means outsourcing training costs, since training is only permitted for employees; and this process has led to alternatives forms of control via reputation systems, which often transmit the gendered and racist biases of society. Contractors are then paid by the task: a cut of every ride from Uber, of every rental from Airbnb, of every task fulfilled on Mechanical Turk. Given the reduction in labour costs provided by such an
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