Process Automation on the Blockchain: An Exploratory Case Study on Smart Contracts

Date
2021-01-05
Authors
Eggers, Julia
Hein, Andreas
Weking, Jörg
Böhm, Markus
Krcmar, Helmut
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Abstract
While business process automation through information technology has progressed over the last decades, smart contracts have recently emerged as a promising new means of automation. However, in practice, the adoption of smart contract-based automation is in its infancy, raising the question if the technology genuinely offers a unique approach to process automation. Drawing on an exploratory case study of four start-ups, we investigate the potentials for automation that organizations achieve through smart contracts and how smart contracts differ from established automation technologies, such as workflow management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, and robotic process automation. We contribute to the literature on process automation by unveiling transparent and immutable, cross-organizational, and decentralized automation as characteristics that differentiate smart contracts from established automation technologies. Besides, we provide practitioners with an understanding of application scenarios, potentials, and drawbacks of smart contracts for process automation.
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Blockchain Cases and Innovations, smart contract, blockchain, process automation, robotic process automation, workflow management
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