The invention and adoption of new technology usually leads to one of the following; it allows us to do something we were never able to do before (such as fly before the invention of the aeroplane); it can make it easier to do something we do already (such as a calculator to compute numbers) or, alternatively it can take over something we do so that we no longer have to do it ourselves (like never have to know a phone number once it has been received or recorded).

Xerox research presented in this theme focuses primarily on the last two categories and on how technology is used to capitalise on and support human expertise in particular to improve business processes. The introduction is given by a researcher who will present the methods of study and analysis used in Xerox ethnography to achieve a thorough understanding of the workplace. This understanding is shared with fellow scientists to ground the design of technology that is effective in achieving the right balance between automation and leveraging existing human expertise in call centres, offices, banks and schools.