Profiles in Innovation: Girija Sathyamurthy



Fortnightly Magazine - November 11 2020

PUF's Steve Mitnick: You're the manager of Robotic Process Automation at Ameren. What's the focus of your position?

Girija Sathyamurthy: Our team looks for opportunities inside Ameren where people do highly repetitive and rule-based work. We get the process documented; check the feasibility of automating the process and figure out the right technology that can be used to automate.

My team develops the necessary software coding in order to automate the process and provide the results to the Business. We utilize technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that can help interact with software applications like a human being, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) that can help with extracting data from documents, APIs that can help us get the data from systems without interacting the Graphical User Interface, and data integration tools that can extract and transform data.

PUF: There are over thirty cases throughout your company, in which you have worked with people and you've automated processes. Talk about some.

Girija Sathyamurthy: The Center of Automation team was formed in September 2018 at Ameren. We initially started working with the finance group that has a lot of repetitive and rule-based work performed manually. The most common use case we automated was to download hundreds of reports from software applications for audit purposes.

Then, we slowly started working with supply chain, transmission, compliance, and internal audit groups and automated manual processes that involved extracting, manipulating, and processing data from different systems.

PUF: What are the benefits when you do these automations?

Girija Sathyamurthy: We are saving the time for the business segments in Ameren by automating some of their processes. It also helps people feel more motivated to work on more human-involved and higher-level cognitive tasks.

In a long run, these automations are going to help Ameren save costs and in turn help reduce the bills for Ameren customers. Automation also helps in avoiding human errors in data processing and ensuring accuracy.

PUF: Where do you think this is going in the future?

Girija Sathyamurthy: There is a lot more we can do. Right now, we have a healthy backlog of automations and we take pride in the value we provide through our automations. 

Our team is also bringing in new technology called Robotic Desktop Automation wherein we can install a robot in a person's laptop that will empower them to automate their own day-to-day work. Our team also has plans to train some of the Ameren employees to learn and do their own automation.

PUF: What's most rewarding about this work for you?

Girija Sathyamurthy: I started my career by developing eCommerce websites and I was always proud of the work I'd done. I would often show the pages I had developed to my friends and family just to hear feedback usually about how expensive were the products being sold in the website but not much appreciation for how the website was designed or how it worked. 

After I started working with the automation team, every time an automation is complete, we provide a demo to the business partners. They are always excited and genuinely thankful for the work my team does, which saves a lot of their time in doing manual repetitive tasks.

That sigh of relief and the gratitude in our midst is great as I am more involved with this work. I get to see the value of what we are doing and how our actions affect people's lives.

Profiles in Innovation