>Culture Drives Function and Enterprise Architecture

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Isn’t it every kids’ dream to own a car? And who can’t wait to take their first driving lessons?

The Wall Street Journal, 29 February 2008 reports that “Japan’s Young Won’t Rally Round the Car.”

“Since the peak in1990, Japanese car makers’ domestic sales have dropped 31% to nearly three million vehicles in 2007.”

Why is this happening?

  • The Internet—“Unlike their parents’ generation, which viewed cars as the passport to freedom and higher social status, the Internet-connected Japanese youths today look to cars with indifference…having grown up on with the internet, they no longer depend on a car for shopping, entertainment, and socializing and prefer to spend their money in other ways.”
  • Preference for electronics—“Young people can borrow their parents’ car and I think they’d rather spend their money on PCs and iPods than cars….trains will do for now.”
  • Green movement—“Many youths worldwide felt cars were unnecessary and even uncool because they pollute and cause congestion.”

Kids’ priorities are changing and with that car manufacturers are having to re-architect the way they design and sell cars.

How is the auto industry responding with new architectures?

  1. New car designs for the Internet generation—these include smaller, eco-friendly vehicles; cars for hanging out together with convertible interior space designed to feel like a sports bar with large touch-screen displays that can be used by the group like; cars with rotating cabins “capable of driving sideways to easily slips into a parking space;” vehicles with “‘robotic agents’ shaped like a head with two eyes that s mounted on the dashboard abd provides driving directions in a soothing voice.”
  2. New marketing for the computer-savvy Drive date videos: “downloads filmed from a drivers perspective, the video lets a viewer go on a day drive with a young, female Japanese model as they drive together along scenic, congestion-free roads.”

The automobile is changing to meet new consumer demands: The cars’ purpose “isn’t to get from point A to point B, but is to provide a social space for the driver and passengers. It doesn’t convey status except the status of being together.”

A lesson for enterprise architects is that function certainly drives architecture. However, functional requirements change along with culture, and the architect needs to be ever vigilant is searching out and spotting new trends, so that the enterprise can be proactive in meeting user expectations. Further technical requirements change based on innovations, and these must be aligned with functional requirements to optimize EA solutions.

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