Sami Jantunen of Lappeenranta University of Technology presented a paper on Utilizing Firm-hosted Online Communities in Software Product Business: A Dimensional View, co-authored by Kari Smolander.
This is specifically related to online communities hosted by companies for business purposes, ranging from product development to business, and involving only internal resources or external and internal. These can include distributed/open source product development, product maintenance (including peer support), user community support, and brand building.
Issues in building an online community range from how to build a community that will attract users or other external participants, to how to create an online community for online product development. This involves research in a number of different areas: studies of the social aspects of community building, but also product management and software engineering for situations where the community will be contributing to product development.
They worked with three companies in looking at these online communities: Nokia, which covers the full range of objectives and stakeholders, SanomaWSOY (a media company), which is focused on the business objectives and the user community, and Tekla a software company), which is focused on collaborative product development.
They are creating an interactive research forum for supporting the development of firm-hosted online communities, providing some of their experiences but also a place for open discussion.