How to choose between robotic process automation and back-end system automation?

Esko Penttinen, Henje Kasslin, Aleksandre Asatiani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Recent literature has identified two main types of IT-enabled innovation and labelled them as lightweight IT and heavyweight IT. In this study, we look into robotic process automation (RPA) as lightweight IT and traditional back-end system automation as heavyweight IT and study how a case company Telco makes the choice between these two alternative ways of implementing automation. Drawing on an empirical study conducted at Telco examining two automation projects, we find support for earlier studies addressing specifically the choice problem of RPA. Our main contribution lies in uncovering the role of the two-dimensional feature stability on the choice. While heavyweight IT is preferred when system architecture is stable, lightweight IT, operating on the presentation layer, holds a prerequisite of stable system interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECIS 2018 Proceedings
PublisherEuropean Conference on Information Systems (ECIS)
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-86137-667-1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventEuropean Conference on Information Systems - Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Jun 201828 Jun 2018
Conference number: 26


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Information Systems
Abbreviated titleECIS
CountryUnited Kingdom


  • Business process
  • Heavyweight IT
  • Lightweight IT
  • Robotic process automation
  • System architecture


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