Ted Shelton:Redefining Business Operations with AI and Automation 

Ted Shelton
Ted Shelton

Innovation thrives in the sector where computation intersects with business, driving evolution and transformation. This collaboration has been the foundation for numerous initiatives to improve productivity and quality within organizational frameworks. Over the past decade, a significant focus has emerged on using the power of AI and Automation to transform business operations, pushing industries towards increased productivity and effectiveness.

Ted Shelton, an Expert Partner deeply immersed in AI and automation, emerges as a pivotal figure driving this transformation forward. With a career spanning from software development to executive roles and consulting, Ted has gained a deep understanding of how AI and automation technologies can reshape operational frameworks.

His work, notably with Bain & Company, epitomizes a commitment to utilizing cutting-edge innovations for client-centric transformations. Firmly rooted in a philosophy of servant leadership, Ted advocates a culture of trust and continuous learning, which is essential for navigating the complexities of AI and automation implementation.

By embodying the principles of collaboration and empowerment, he cultivates an environment where individuals thrive, driving towards innovative solutions that redefine the future of business. Through strategic insight and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Ted paves a path toward sustainable growth and profound societal impact in an era defined by technological advancement. With his keen focus on nurturing innovation and sustainable growth, this visionary leader has led initiatives to reshape business operations and unlock organizational capabilities.

Now, let’s delve into how Ted is embracing AI and Automation into business transformation through his visionary leadership:

The Journey from Software Development to AI Consultancy

The intersection of computation and business has been the core of Ted’s entire career, from working with software companies as a developer and later as an executive to, in the last 15 years, as a consultant. Over the past decade, he has increasingly focused on how organizations can use AI and automation to improve productivity and quality in their business processes.

Early in this journey, the technologies were narrowly applied to task automation, but increasingly, end-to-end process automation is becoming possible. As the global head for business process redesign, he supports Bain and Company in applying a range of AI and automation technologies to help their clients transform business operations.

Inspiration and Evolution in AI and NLP Technologies

In college, he was very inspired by Professor Scott Deerwester, one of the inventors of a key NLP technology, latent semantic indexing. However, in the late 1980s, computational power and available digitized texts were insufficient to do meaningful work in language computation. It wasn’t until 2013 that he began to see opportunities to apply artificial intelligence to business problems; automation technologies were a natural complement to AI as they could assist in bringing information into AI or take insights from AI back into a business process.

For the past few years, he has been engaged in expanding the application of both machine learning and generative AI technologies to business transformation.

Cultivating a Culture of Trust for Client Success

He tries to live up to the expectations of servant leadership, which focuses on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. He aims to be a resource and supporter for his team members, helping everyone to perform at the highest level possible. This fosters a culture of trust and personal development, which ultimately results in an innovative and positive work environment in which they can work together to produce the best outcomes for their clients.

Embracing Constant Learning in the Field of AI

A challenge in developing AI and automation solutions is that technology is developing rapidly; something considered “impossible” yesterday may become easy to accomplish by tomorrow. The key to success is to encourage a constant learning approach in the field, asking when a given capability may be available as opposed to judging that a given capability is or is not possible. Future-proof design depends on seeing automation as an ongoing iterative journey, not a one-time event.

Achieving Projected Benefits through Strategic Automation

Many organizations make the mistake of building and deploying automation without first developing a clear plan for how they will achieve the projected benefits. The best companies put in place a value realization plan as a part of developing the business case with the specific activities identified, which will be necessary to obtain the ROI justification for the automation

investment. Once the automation has been developed and deployed, there must also be a set of change management exercises with the business to implement this plan.

The Future of Business Through AI and Automation

Over the coming decade, businesses will continuously redesign business processes and reduce human labor, beginning with rote or repetitive tasks but expanding to augment human decision-making, creativity, and interpersonal relationships. The application of AI and automation will reduce costs, increase speed, improve quality, and provide employees and customers with greater satisfaction.

Planning for Iterative Process Improvement

Envisioning a future state for a given process is essential to achieving real transformation. Too often, an organization will approach existing systems and processes with a “today forward” mindset, seeking to make incremental improvements. While this can provide short-term benefits, it is unlikely to result in meaningful long-term change, which will be necessary to remain competitive as companies in every industry learn to deploy machine intelligence to improve every aspect of their operations.

Once the future state has been defined, the next step is to plan an iterative improvement process that considers what is possible today while also laying the groundwork for future improvements.

Key Factors in Automation Leadership

The most difficult part of automation programs is not technology; it is people. Successful leaders in this field are empathetic and able to coalesce support from a diverse set of individuals, which will include front-line employees, managers, and executives. Their workforces will be making difficult changes to adapt to an entirely different working environment.

People struggle with any kind of change, but even more so when it requires a fundamental revaluation of the skills and natural abilities that they bring to their work. He is confident that the jobs of the future will be more fulfilling than many that exist today, but the journey to that future will be challenging and will require patience, understanding, and care.

Identifying Opportunities for Enormous Transformation

The history of business over the past one hundred years has largely been one of increasing scale; the number of employees, the geographic breadth of operations, the volume of activity and/or output, and the sophistication of products and solutions have all grown exponentially.

To address the next set of pressing problems that we have as a species—climate change, political instability, food security, and health—organizations of every kind will need to tap into the cognitive surplus that people and machine intelligence can offer.

View AI and automation as an accelerator for human achievement, not a replacement. Create an impact on this field by identifying places where enormous transformation is possible, not just incremental improvement. He calls these the 99% opportunities—find the changes that improve something by 99%, not just 20% or 30%.