Automation is the general term that describes how applications use COM to interact with each other. An application can act as an automation server or an automation client.
Dexterity-based applications can act both as automation servers and automation clients. All Dexterity-based applications implement a COM interface that allows them to be controlled by automation clients. This COM interface is more commonly known as the Continuum interface.
Dexterity-based applications can act as automation clients, controlling and accessing the data of other COM-enabled applications like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.