Facilitated by AI technology, the phenomenon of cognitive automation extends the scope of deterministic business process automation (BPA) through the probabilistic automation of knowledge and service work. By transforming work systems through cognitive automation, organizations are provided with vast strategic opportunities to gain business value. However, research lacks a unified conceptual lens on cognitive automation, which hinders scientific progress. Thus, based on a Systematic Literature Review, we describe the fundamentals of cognitive automation and provide an integrated conceptualization. We provide an overview of the major BPA approaches such as workflow management, robotic process automation, and Machine Learning-facilitated BPA while emphasizing their complementary relationships. Furthermore, we show how the phenomenon of cognitive automation can be instantiated by Machine Learning-facilitated BPA systems that operate along the spectrum of lightweight and heavyweight IT implementations in larger IS ecosystems. Based on this, we describe the relevance and opportunities of cognitive automation in Information Systems research.
contribution to scientific community