Using Virtual Communities to Involve Users in E-Service Development: A Case Study

Using Virtual Communities to Involve Users in E-Service Development: A Case Study

Eva Söderström (University of Skövde, Sweden) and Jesper Holgersson (University of Skövde, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-581-0.ch005
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Thriving in the Internet era requires both Internet presence and careful development of the e-services provided using this technology. However, one major problem is how to involve the end users of the e-service(s), something which is necessary if the e-services are to be useful and sustainable. This chapter presents a case study on the e-service development process using a major player in the travel industry as the case. The main focus is on how new technological advancements and phenomena, primarily virtual communities, can be used as a main source of end user requirements. Virtual communities are both of strategic and practical relevance and even cause a need to redefine the term “user participation.” E-services constitute a major trend for private as well as public organizations and should address Internet technology advancements when being developed.
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E-services are used in many different settings and there is no commonly agreed definition (Rowley, 2006) but there are some general characteristics applicable for most e-services. Firstly, e-services are based on electronic interactions between a service provider and a service consumer (Javalgi, Martin, & Todd, 2004; Liao, Chen, & Yen, 2007; Rowley, 2006). Secondly, e-services are intangible, inseparable and heterogeneous (Edvardsson & Larsson, 2004; Javalgi et al., 2004; Johannesson, Andersson, Bergholtz, & Weigand, 2008; Järvinen & Lehtinen, 2004). The creation of some kind of value is also stressed by many authors (Edvardsson & Larsson, 2004; Hultgren, 2007; Preist, 2004) meaning that the e-service interaction must generate a positive outcome, either for the producer or for the consumer or most preferable, for both. In this paper we have chosen to view e-services as artefacts for the delivery of services electronically, i.e. e-services are viewed as applications making it possible to offer and use services via electronic communication channels, such as the Internet.

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