Ken has had a long career as both a CIO and an adviser on numerous digital transformation initiatives.
What follows are some takeaways from the conversation. You can watch the complete interview here.
Blaine: Since you seem to have a stick in a few different fireplaces, why don’t you tell us a little bit about both SGR and Compass42?
Ken: Sure! SGR Energy is a privately held company headquartered here in Houston. We do heavy fuel oils, lending, and manufacturing, primarily supplying power generation facilities in South America. We operate globally even though we’re based here in Houston. We’ve been around since 2011. In 2018, we were named by Houston Business Journal as the fastest growing privately held company in Houston with over seventeen hundred percent revenue growth.
It’s been a wild ride here in a very short period of time for the company. So, lots of fun and exciting things going on, typically in the acquisition space and growth down in South America.
I’m also the president/CIO for Compass42, which is my own advisory firm. Through that, I provide interim and fractional CIO work and other general advisory mentoring and coaching services to companies of all different shapes and sizes and help them on their transformation efforts, particularly with new-to-job CIOs.
“What gets left out so often in companies and why many I believe fail is they think it’s about the technology and they even have the technology tied to the desired business outcomes, but they forget that it means change for their companies.”
– Ken Piddington
Blaine: I want to go back and just touch briefly on what is one of your seminal pieces of writing that our listeners can check out on your web site and on your LinkedIn profile titled “Create Your Legacy, Inspire an IT-led Revolution“. What is the thesis of that think piece and why did you write it?
Ken: For me, times were happening and continue to be changing very quickly in our organizations. I think the role of the CIO, as technology leaders as a whole, we’ve got an opportunity to see across our organization and create value in new places than we’ve done before. With me, it was kind of a call to action to say, “Lose the pocket protector, get out of the back office, step out of your comfort zone, and create a real legacy to help drive your companies forward, and thus, your career and create that legacy for you and your team for where you want to go.”.
I believe the pace of change is faster than ever. The essence for IT to really make a stand to help drive an organization’s success or failure is now. To do that, we needed to do things in a more revolutionary way than traditional IT. That was really the basis behind it, kind of getting everyone to light a fire under them. Let’s go. The opportunity’s sitting there. Go take advantage of it. Create your legacy.
Blaine: Riffing on the concept of real time a little bit more, tell me a little bit more about your thoughts on that generally. Why did you choose to focus on that as something you speak about these days?
Business is going so fast. We hear all the stories. There’s an event I go to that you have some keynote speaker talking about this company or that company that failed to see the writing on the wall and we did the Netflix-Blockbuster example. You talk about Uber coming into play and Airbnbs and even talk about traditional other companies like Nike that’s becoming a technology, or is a technology company first, and using the technology to help drive all the rest of their business. There’s so many examples of those.
I think that things are happening so quickly too. As pace of change and the pace of technology changes faster than ever that, as an organization, if we are not able to move at whatever speed our organization needs to move at, we’re going to find ourselves quickly disrupted and probably out of business.
That’s a lot of really cool words to say that we need to be able to go fast and create an environment for our organization that gives all of our people the tools to make the right decisions in the right timeframes so they can take those hopefully actionable insights and do something with them to drive our business forward.
Blaine: And then be agile enough to be able to respond at this speed, right? That’s the other thing. You can’t plan to operate in real time if you haven’t got the agility to do it.
Ken: Correct. You can build that race car that can go 200+ miles an hour around the track, but not everybody’s capable of driving it. That takes great change leadership at an organization. We talk about the digital transformation. What gets left out so often in companies and why many I believe fail is they think it’s about the technology and they even have the technology tied to the desired business outcomes, but they forget that it means change for their companies.
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