Digital Innovation and Business Process Management: Advancing theory and practice


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Recent studies by McKinsey & Co. (2022; 2024) highlight that companies worldwide spend an estimated $230 billion on managing business processes. Ranging from customer-care functions, such as call centres, to back-office processing in applications such as claims, transactions and payments, finance, and procurement. Moreover, the Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector in 2022 has found a 15.5 percent growth in revenue, against a 2.1 percent growth a year back.This steep increase has been fuelled by the fast-paced digital transformation across industries during the Pandemic years and by the adoption of enterprise-scale data and cloud strategy, among other factors (Dabic, et al., 2023; Bargoni et al., 2024b; Bertello et al., 2021; Bresciani et al., 2021; Del Giudice et al., 2021; Scuotto et al., 2023). These numbers well depict the importance of technology and digital innovation in improving the efficiency and quality of the firm processes through effective BPM (Mendling et al., 2020). In fact, due to the development of information technology (IT) infrastructures and digital innovation, organizations are continuously redefining their business, clearly showing that digital innovation is acting as a catalyst for business process reengineering (BPR) and business process innovation (BPI; Anand et al., 2013; Beerepoot et al., 2023; Dezi et al., 2018; Rialti et al., 2018).  

While the academic literature on BPM appears to be fragmented and lacking a widely accepted categorization of its different streams (Klun & Trkman, 2018), the role of digital innovation appears to be fundamental in the re-conceptualization of the field in becoming a cornerstone in this area (Majchrzak et al., 2016; Melville et al., 2004; Trainor et al., 2014; Trkman & Klun, 2015). BPM is tightly linked to information technology (IT) development and the digitalization process of firms (Legner et al., 2017; Caputo, 2021). For example, the integration of Industry 4.0 features into BPM (Czvetkó et al., 2022) has allowed developing of real-time capability, interoperability, modularity, decentralization, and virtualization as well as integration (vertical and horizontal) of processes through ICT (Information and Communications Technology) systems (Pérez-Lara et al., 2020; Safar et al., 2018). 

This has enabled the development of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPSs; Monostori et al., 2016; Ryalat et al., 2023; Somers et al., 2023), collaborating computational entities connected to the surrounding physical world and its processes. CPSs provide and use, at the same time, data-accessing and data-processing services available on the Internet, ultimately improving the efficiency of manufacturing (Fortoul-Diaz et al., 2023; Neal et al., 2021). The steep increase in data-driven workflow management (vertical and horizontal) facilitates collaboration between multiple devices (i.e., machine to machine), business management systems and production lines, and data sharing between business units (Zhang et al., 2021). Adapting these changes requires a new perspective and leads to the need to rethink and redesign BPM and its models (Gabryelczyk et al., 2022; Gerlitz, 2016; Gross et al., 2021; Tsakalidis & Vergidis, 2024).  

In the same direction, blockchain has drastically changed how inter-organizational processes operate (Abunadi & Kumar, 2021; Weber et al., 2016). As defined by Mendling et al. (2018, p 3) “blockchain is a distributed database technology that builds on a tamper-proof list of timestamped transaction records” that allows executing processes in a trustworthy manner even in a network without any mutual trust between nodes.  

Integrating digital technologies into BPM practices appears essential for organizations to remain competitive in today's digital economy (Ivanišević et al., 2023). For example, digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and blockchain can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, improve decision-making processes, and enhance customer experiences (Birkbeck & Rowe, 2023; Haleem et al., 2021; Himeur et al., 2023). However, while the integration of digital technologies seems to provide unprecedented advantages for firms, it also poses several challenges, including data security, privacy concerns, and managing complexity (Abunadi & Kumar, 2021; Daim & Dabić, 2023; Ferraris et al., 2017, 2019). In fact, the adoption of new technologies often requires a contiguous transformation of the business processes to trigger organizational efficiency or business performance (Idogawa et al., 2023; Khan et al., 2023; Liu et al., 2024; Schneider et al., 2024). Even so, extant research has found that the majority of BPM methods do not support innovation and thus fail to capitalize on the opportunities associated with digital innovation (Scuotto et al., 2016; Grisold et al., 2021; Gross et al., 2019; Kerpedzhiev et al., 2021; Mendling et al., 2020; Van Looy, 2021; vom Brocke et al., 2020). This observation has been affirmed by recent calls for redeveloping BPM to become more explorative and opportunity-driven (Grisold et al., 2019). Nonetheless, the question of how organizations do or can embrace digital innovation within their business process work remains largely unexplored (Bargoni et al., 2024; Del Giudice et al., 2021; Gross et al., 2021; Mikalef & Krogstie, 2020). 

In fact, the integration of these technologies into BPM practices requires careful planning and execution. Organizations must ensure that their BPM systems are compatible with digital technologies and develop governance and control mechanisms to manage the complexity of digital BPM. Moreover, organizations must address the potential risks associated with the use of digital technologies, such as data security and privacy concerns. Despite these challenges, the integration of digital technologies into BPM practices offers significant opportunities for organizations to improve their operational efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness. 

In this light, this special issue aims to increase awareness about how organizations can integrate digital innovation within their business processes. Its underlying objective is to disseminate knowledge and understand how digital innovation (from a BPM perspective) may play a pivotal role in sailing through complex and challenging moments for firms. The guest editors encourage submissions of contributions that address the challenges and opportunities of digitalization for BPM and/or case studies and best practices that demonstrate successful digital BPM initiatives. Theoretical as well as empirical studies (qualitative and/or quantitative) are welcome, and these could focus either on SMEs, large organizations, start-ups, public organizations, or not-for-profit. Finally, contributions are expected to clarify their scholarly, as well as managerial, implications. 

List of Topic Areas

The Business Process Management Journal invites submissions on the theme of digitalization and its impact on BPM. We welcome papers that explore the following topics: 

  • Digital transformation and BPM: integration of technologies (e.g., blockchain, artificial intelligence, edge computing, robotic process automation) into information systems and BPM to enhance efficiency, security, and decision-making processes (e.g., Robotic Process Automation, AI-augmented Business Process Management Systems). 
  • Human-Centric BPM: exploring the impact of BPM on the human aspects, focusing on user experience, user interface design, and the psychology of stakeholders involved in business processes management. 
  • Knowledge Management and Learning Systems: exploring how information systems and BPM can contribute to effective knowledge management and continuous learning within organizations. 
  • Post-Implementation Challenges: analyzing challenges that organizations face after implementing information systems and BPM solutions, focusing on issues such as system scalability, maintenance, and long-term sustainability. 
  • Governance and control of digital BPM: focusing on the challenges involved in the strategic oversight, management practices, and control mechanisms designed to ensure that digital BPM initiatives align with organizational goals, comply with regulatory requirements, and achieve efficiency and effectiveness in business processes.  
  • Digitalization and the Future of Work 

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available here.
Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see here.
Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Closing date for manuscripts submission: July 31, 2024 

Guest Editors

Prof. Stefano Bresciani ([email protected]), University of Turin; 
Prof. Augusto Bargoni ([email protected]),  University of Turin; 
Prof. Marina Dabić ([email protected]), Faculty of  Economics and Business University of Zagreb


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