MN Tech Mag | Spring/Summer 2023

MN Tech Mag is a Concord publication devoted to improving the relationship between business and technology, starting our home state of Minnesota.


People & Purpose

Christina Zorn Chief Administrative Officer Mayo Clinic

The New Currency of Business


Ignite Your Passion at Work



Inside ISSUE 7 | SUMMER 2023 What’s

Editor’s Note

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a small group of Concord’s clients, past and present, for dinner. We enjoyed a meal together and discussed new concepts for brand messaging. Concord celebrated twenty years in business this year – an exciting milestone, no doubt – and we want to update how we present ourselves to reflect better who we are today. Each attendee’s perspective on Concord differed slightly based on their unique experience, project, and history. The consistent theme? Concord has great people. At the heart of Concord – and, realistically, any great business – is the people. It feels a bit cliché to put it that way, but we hear the phrase often for a reason. People get work done. Not projects or tools. Not methodologies or even technology. Moreover, great people get great work done. As we created this issue, we noticed that all our contributors focused on people in one way or another. The way it should be. During my conversation with Christina Zorn, our cover feature and Mayo Clinic’s Chief Administrative Officer, it was clear how important people are to her – not just her team or the leaders advancing Mayo Clinic’s purpose, but truly the broader ‘people’ of humankind. Her vision – and Mayo’s purpose – is to reimagine healthcare to make it work better for everyone. At Black & Veatch, Irvin Bishop Jr. equally recognizes how integral people are to the success of any organization. Throughout our interview, he highlighted how important the right culture is to retaining talent and achieving transformational goals. On an individual level, we explored the idea of networking and how to find your next opportunity. Does it really matter who you know? Spoiler alert: it does. On that note, I hope this issue provides you with insight you can’t get anywhere else. More than just some interesting articles on a page, I would love MN Tech Mag to serve as your own personal network. Please reach out if there’s a connection we can make or something we can do to help you. After all, it really is all about the people.


EDITOR IN CHIEF Natalie Sheffield


DESIGN Steve Bubb

Black & Veatch EVP & CIO Irvin Bishop Jr. is leading the team through transformation. His guide? A digital yardstick. Learn how he applies the concept to achieve the company’s vision. 9 BY THE NUMBERS From coffee chats to LinkedIn connections, we have to ask the question: is networking really necessary? We dig into the numbers to find out.

PHOTOGRAPHY Joe Lemke Photography


CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Anne Pronschinske Christina Zorn Jeff Rogers

Laura Best, founder of Passion Collective, shares the secret to finding meaning in your career and supercharging your potential at any stage in life.

Jim Eppel Laura Best

28 Q+A: JIM EPPEL Relevant Health Roundtable Advisory Member Jim Eppel reflects on his career and the healthcare industry as a whole in light of his recent retirement.

Michelle Galliani Natalie Sheffield Sigrid Mellem Stu Nutting Travis Richardson

16 THE TOP TECH OF 2023 Our list-makers are driving a new level of innovation for companies large and small. Find out which technologies made the cut this year.



Jeremiah Program is empowering single moms to harness their power and break the cycle of poverty, two generations at a time.

A CONCORD PUBLICATION 509 2nd Avenue South Hopkins, MN 55343

Effective data management makes all the difference between winning and losing in the market. Three experts share their perspective on how to win big. 952.241.1090

35 QUIPS & QUOTES Some of the most impactful purchases don’t have to break the bank. Our readers share their best finds under $100.

22 A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER After twenty years in business, Concord co- founder Stu Nutting shares his perspective on the organization’s growth – and a personal announcement.


People & Purpose 10


Christina Zorn, Chief Administrative Officer of Mayo Clinic, is prepared to transform the entire healthcare industry as we know it.

Follow us @concordusa

Natalie Sheffield Chief Marketing Officer, Concord Editor in Chief, MN Tech Mag




AWS re:Invent Las Vegas, NV 27-Dec 1 November


DAA One Chicago, IL 10-12

Product-Led Summit San Francisco, CA Gain inspiration from the most pioneering and successful product- led leaders in the industry to take your organization’s product-led strategy to the next level.



Calling all analytics professionals! This event celebrates the past, present, and future of analytics and innovation. Join a lineup of globally renowned industry experts to gain valuable insights on topics from strategic visualization to data democratization.

Rally Innovation Indianapolis, IN Rally is the largest cross-sector innovation conference with 5,000+ attendees and a $5M pitch competition. This year’s keynote speaker is award-winning radio and podcast personality Guy Raz.

Hubspot INBOUND Boston, MA

With the energy of an incubator and the intel of an accelerator, INBOUND takes the best of HubSpot — the culture, the innovation, the creativity — and propels it forward for the collective good. Reese Witherspoon, Derek Jeter, and Morgan Debaun headline the speaker stage.

This learning conference hosted by AWS is for anyone passionate about cloud computing. Enjoy keynote announcements, training, certification opportunities, and over 1,500 technical sessions during this event.


Chicago eCommerce Summit Chicago, IL




Participate in a local gathering of Chicago’s top eCommerce experts and decision-makers across retailers, brands, merchants, and solutions providers.

Google Cloud Next San Francisco, CA Next ’23 is Google’s global exhibition of inspiration, innovation, and education. Join decision makers and developers to discuss cloud challenges, solutions, and game- changing technologies.

Dreamforce San Francisco, CA Dreamforce is the largest software conference in the world and Salesforce’s pinnacle event. From inspiring keynotes and sessions to visionary thinking and the future of technology, attendees will be empowered to grow their organization and careers.


Microsoft Azure & AI Conference Orlando, FL Become an integral part of the rapidly expanding AI developer community and learn about the latest offerings from Microsoft. You’ll have the opportunity to spend time with industry experts who will present real-world solutions and tips for productivity.




Opticon San Diego, CA


Opticon combines the power of data-driven precision and creative execution to make great things happen fast. This year’s event will focus on the art and science of digital experiences and empower those who create them.

HLTH Las Vegas, NV HLTH 2023 is healthcare’s

preeminent event uniting senior executives, decision makers, and innovators across the healthcare spectrum to push boundaries and drive ROI opportunities for organizations.




Cyber Security Summit Minneapolis, MN Cyber security incidents are more frequent and sophisticated.

Enterprise Data World Anaheim, CA

For over 27 years now, Enterprise Data World has been recognized as the most comprehensive education conference on data management in the world. Expect to learn about topics from data architecture and agile data to industry trends and data culture.

Prevention isn’t enough; organizations must have a

heightened level of resilience. This conference will focus on unlocking resilience by bringing together an expert community of cyber leaders and practitioners.

Google Cloud Next


Microsoft Azure & AI Conference

04 | Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events | 05


R enowned as a global engineering, procurement, consulting, and construction company specializing in infrastructure development, Black & Veatch is on a mission to help clients move farther and faster. With an impressive portfolio and a keen eye for innovation, Irvin Bishop Jr., EVP & Chief Information Officer, is spearheading the organization’s digital strategy and leading its enterprise IT team and non-IT innovation committee. Black & Veatch is at an exciting time in the organization’s history – they streamlined operations, consolidated thirteen business units into three market sectors, and achieved record-breaking revenues. As a change agent, Irvin remains laser-focused on ensuring client satisfaction while leading the company’s transformation. His leadership has fostered a client-centric culture, optimizing cost and speed, increasing standardization, and providing ample professional development opportunities. As he continues to lead the Black & Veatch team through its transformation, Irvin is measuring with a digital yardstick, creating an interoperable enterprise, and building a ‘best place to work.’

EVP & Chief Information Officer at Black & Veatch Irvin Bishop Jr. has big goals for the company: to become an industry disruptor and a career destination of choice. THE DIGITAL YARDSTICK GUIDING BLACK & VEATCH’S TRANSFORMATION

By: Michelle Galliani

Measuring with a Digital Yardstick

Irvin aligns his team’s priorities with the company’s business vision and strategy, rooted in client needs. To this end, his team frequently turns to the concept of the digital yardstick to help evaluate opportunities and garner strategic alignment. “The digital yardstick has different characteristics that you measure against: is this going to improve efficiency? Is it going to generate revenue? Is it going to increase product visibility?” describes Bishop Jr. The digital yardstick has led Irvin’s team down a path to building sustainable digital innovation capabilities – an area where he feels there’s much to be done. His team is generating solutions for renewable energy, electric vehicle charging stations, and integrated water solutions. To further enable their innovation roadmap, Black & Veatch’s IT team is actively modernizing the organization’s infrastructure, enhancing security, and leveraging hyper-automation and AI to drive efficiency and productivity.

Black & Veatch World Headquarters, Overland Park, KS

Irvin Bishop Jr.

06 | Trending Technology

Trending Technology | 07




The “Datafication” of the Organization Irvin’s approach to technology emphasizes enterprise interoperability. He collaborates with the enterprise and solutions architect teams to conduct market analyses and identify the best products to meet the company’s needs while preferring single solutions that can be used out-of- the-box. “We’d like 80% of what we do to be something that can be used by all the enterprise and then 20% going toward specificity that’s needed because someone has a nuance,” shares Bishop Jr. He believes this is the key to efficiently integrating new technology tools to optimize the business. Irvin is also passionate about building out Black & Veatch’s ‘zero-trust architecture,’ which assumes that any individual interacting with their systems should be authenticated. It’s been instrumental in improving the company’s security standards, both protecting against potential threats and keeping bad actors at bay. Leaders today must be intentional about building relationships, about their communication style, and about truly leading with empathy. ‘‘

Becoming the Best Place to Work The success of any transformation initiative is inextricably tied to the performance of the team. Irvin recognizes that the right team can make or break your efforts; he is passionate about supporting the employee base at large and shaping Black & Veatch’s culture. In a post-COVID, hybrid working world, he believes leaders have a huge role to play in making sure people are collaborating and connecting at work. “Leaders today must be intentional about building relationships, about their communication style, and about truly leading with empathy,” emphasizes Bishop Jr. Irvin influences the culture by prioritizing talent development as a key pillar in the company’s transformation. He is proud that the company is invested in developing its talent – providing resources and flexibility to stretch into new areas. Black & Veatch is determined to become the best place to work on the planet – that starts with building a strong connection to the organization’s core values. “As soon as you step and get a Black & Veatch credential badge, one of the first things you do is take Aspire training, which walks through our core values and principles. It immerses employees into our culture of curiosity and shares our focus on safety, accountability, integrity, respect, and entrepreneurship,” reveals Bishop Jr. This practice helps employees see the company values come to life far after onboarding ends. Focusing on the Journey Black & Veatch is making strong progress towards digital transformation goals, but the expedition is never complete. Irvin’s advice to others facing similar initiatives? Effective change management. “I believe that change management is a cornerstone to any digital transformation,” shares Bishop Jr. He recommends frequent and two-sided communication, celebrating progress and small wins, and engaging change champions to promote transformation at various levels. “You must explain to your teams that digital transformation is a journey, it’s not a destination,” urges Bishop Jr.

79 %

Percent of professionals who believe career success depends on networking.

52 million

Number of people actively looking on LinkedIn for a new role each week.

Percent of open jobs published on publicly available career sites.


Number of people hired on LinkedIn every minute.

Number of business cards printed daily. 27 million


Data underpins all of the efforts currently on Irvin’s plate. By promoting datafication and implementing a unified data model within the organization, Irvin is able to meet his enterprise interoperability goals. “Datafication is understanding that whatever you do – whatever activities that you participate in, whatever information you gather – you need to do it in a very systematic way,” explains Bishop Jr. By cultivating a data-driven decision-making culture and training employees to utilize data effectively, Black & Veatch strengthens its capacity for improvement and innovation. “Data is the soil that digital grows in. Without it, you can’t answer your questions or do things better,” he adds.

35 %

76 %

Percent of in-person meetings resulting in new customers in B2B sales. 40 %

88 %

Percent of LinkedIn users who say a casual message led to a new opportunity.

Percent of employees who prefer face-to-face

Number of business cards thrown out one week after receiving them.

meetings over other methods.

08 | Trending Technology

By the Numbers | 09


Christina Zorn reveals how Mayo Clinic is emphasizing people and purpose to transform the entire healthcare industry as we know it. People & Purpose

Interview by Natalie Sheffield

People & Purpose | 11


A Path to Healthcare “I always loved science. It was just fascinating to me. I wanted to be a physician growing up because it was more than just the study of science; it was the opportunity to apply it and help people,” shares Christina Zorn, Chief Administrative Officer at Mayo Clinic. While she initially imagined herself working in healthcare at the bedside, Christina would ultimately find herself serving patients through a different path – one that would allow her to lead a transformation of the healthcare industry by placing a strong emphasis on people and technology. Starting her undergrad as a pre- med major, Christina adjusted her focus during her senior year, opting to attend law school instead. “Law school was very different than studying science in undergrad. It was such an interesting way of thinking, and I loved the analytical aspect of it,” describes Christina. Recognizing she still had a passion for helping others and wanted to work within healthcare, Christina found a law firm representing the University of Nebraska Medical Center and interned there. “I was doing work as a hospital attorney at an internship level. I was still connected to the science, and that enabled me to focus on health law as an opportunity,” she elaborates. After some time in private practice, Christina transitioned to Mayo Clinic in Florida as an in-house attorney. “Mayo Clinic was looking for someone with experience with privacy and security; there weren’t a lot of attorneys with that emphasis at the time,” she summarizes. “It was my natural curiosity that brought me to Mayo Clinic – once I arrived there, my curiosity didn’t stop, and I volunteered for a lot of other responsibilities that were not part of my job description, which took me to administration,” Christina shares with a smile.




Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL

Finding Purpose at Mayo Clinic Christina eventually took the full leap into administration and accepted the Chief Administrative Officer role in Florida. After seven years leading in that role, she took on the responsibility of Chief Administrative Officer of the entire Mayo Clinic enterprise, which includes major campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona, as well as campuses around the world. As part of her role, Christina is responsible for administrative functions in clinical practice, research, education, international, digital businesses, and enterprise shared services. In partnership with Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Christina is responsible for the strategy and operations of the entire organization. “We have 76,000 employees, and we’re continuing to grow. Last year we had 15,000 employees start a new role at Mayo Clinic, which is incredible growth given the staffing issues across healthcare right now,” Christina relates. “I’m really proud that Mayo Clinic is a place that people want to start and continue their careers,” she adds.

Mayo Clinic’s mission of ‘inspiring hope and promoting health through integrated clinical practice, education, and research’ is a huge draw for employees and patients alike. “The values-based culture and the environment here are unlike any other place. I knew that at Mayo Clinic, I would have a direct impact on patients and healthcare transformation. I’m grateful for the privilege of working for something bigger than myself,” Christina affirms. Enabling Purpose Through Technology Christina makes it clear that people and purpose are the utmost priority – for her and Mayo Clinic – and technology is the enabler making it possible. “If you think about our mission of providing the best healthcare, focused on putting the needs of the patient first, it relies entirely on technology. We have a strong partnership with our IT leaders and our information technology and security teams, and we challenge them to be an ally to the entire organization,” expresses Christina.


People & Purpose | 13

12 | People & Purpose


In 2018, Mayo Clinic acted on its purpose and embarked on a strategy to transform the organization. The 2030 “Bold. Forward.” Strategy focuses on three main areas – cure, connect, and transform. “We see this strategy as a blueprint for transforming the entire healthcare sector,” Christina proclaims. “The premise of the plan is to transform healthcare while preserving our identity as the place for hope and healing,” she elaborates. Cure. In alignment with the first element of the strategy, Mayo Clinic will deliver more cures for both complex and chronic diseases. The organization’s practice and research shields partner together to discover and diffuse new diagnoses, treatments, surgeries and procedures. “Our focus on cures is really about innovating to improve diagnoses and treatment for patients who need complex or serious care. At the root of everything we do, we are a healthcare provider, and we have to deliver the absolute best care to our patients,” Christina conveys. Connect. Encompassing the second component of the strategy, Mayo Clinic believes in connecting people with data to create new knowledge and deliver solutions that meet patients wherever they are, simplifying the notoriously complex healthcare arena. “People expect healthcare to be much more intuitive, convenient, and accessible, and it’s our job to deliver on that expectation,” Christina remarks. “We make sure that the patients who want to come here have the information they need and can work through their local provider to make it seamless. Through “Connect,” we’re aiming to enhance affordability, accessibility, and the patient experience,” says Christina. Transform. Mayo Clinic recognized the need to transform as the third tenet of the strategy. The organization desires to move from a traditional pipeline model to a scalable, AI-enabled platform model. “We know that if we provide trusted information, enable algorithms and AI, and push these innovations out to others, we can raise the standard of healthcare across the world,” Christina emphasizes.

The ultimate goal is to reimagine the healthcare system piece-by-piece in an effort to make it work better for everyone. “It’s critical that we understand how important people are, especially in today’s environment. As an employer and as a healthcare provider, we create an environment at Mayo Clinic that puts people first, no matter if you’re a patient, employee, caregiver, or a business partner,” states Christina. When asked about advice to other business leaders in the community who are similarly seeking to transform their organization or industry, Christina offers, “What I would tell others is to put people first, and that will serve you well.” HEALTHCARE LIKE WE UNDERSTAND HEALTHCARE. WE NEED TO DO THIS TOGETHER.” “ MAJOR TECH COMPANIES HAVE INCREDIBLE RESOURCES AT THEIR DISCRETION, BUT THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND

Most would expect healthcare disruption to come from the typical players in technology; in fact, many people would suggest that Mayo Clinic’s goal is too lofty. “We believe it’s long overdue. The only way to get there is to disrupt from within. Major tech companies have incredible resources at their discretion, but they don’t understand healthcare. We need to do this together,” remarks Christina. People Matter Most In order to achieve Mayo Clinic’s 2030 Bold. Forward. Strategy to cure, connect, and transform healthcare, Christina is emphasizing two key enablers of transformation over the next several years – simplification and innovation. “They go hand-in-hand – we have to identify the true value-adds, so we can stop doing the things that don’t make sense, free up time to be more innovative, and do work that brings joy and matters the most,” explains Christina. Some of the most seemingly unexciting work can be the most impactful. “For example, in healthcare, there’s a complicated process to get providers reimbursed or for patients to understand their bill. It’s truly a regulatorily- dictated administrative problem. We’re working with payers and third-party administrators to help us understand the barriers and remove complexity from the process,” Christina shares. “Getting a thirty-step process down to five doesn’t sound that exciting, but it makes a huge difference for the patient who cannot understand their bill or for a provider who has spent years on those 30 steps in order to get fairly reimbursed.”


Mayo Clinic is the largest integrated, not-for-profit medical group practice in the world and is rooted in

embracing innovation to solve difficult and complex healthcare challenges. With an unwavering drive to create better medical care, Mayo Clinic has earned more top rankings for high- quality patient care than any other healthcare organization. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Mayo Clinic as the number 1 hospital overall and top-ranked in 14 specialties.


14 | People & Purpose

People & Purpose | 15



Microsoft Security Copilot

Our list-makers are driving a new level of innovation and efficiency for organizations ready to harness the power of technology-enabled success. The Top Tech of 2023 From cutting-edge artificial intelligence applications to groundbreaking open-source frameworks and platforms, new technologies have captured the world’s attention. The technologies on this 2023 list continue to push the boundaries of what was once thought possible, revolutionizing the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us. Concord’s experts explain why they matter.

A Container Orchestration System for Automating, Scaling, & Managing Kubernetes’ open-source system groups containers into logical units for easy management and discovery. Its declarative approach allows developers to define the desired state of their applications, while Kubernetes handles the orchestration and ensures that the desired state is maintained. Designed on the same principles of Google and with a focus on flexibility, Kubernetes is helping businesses scale without the headcount. Overall, Kubernetes’ value proposition lies in its ability to streamline application deployment, enhance scalability, increase reliability, and simplify management, making it a key technology in modern cloud-native environments. “We’re reaching a tipping point where enough people finally understand how to effectively operationalize Kubernetes. For folks who are willing to invest in the know-how to use the platform well, there are big gains to be made in terms of resiliency, streamlined operations, and efficient use of hardware. You really can’t use containers successfully at meaningful scale without some kind of orchestration, and Kubernetes is the biggest cross-vendor alternative out there.” – Dave Cyr, Director of Architecture

An Attacker Defense System Built on Generative AI

A Smarter Way to Build Audiences & Refine Segments Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform Adobe’s Real-Time Customer Data Platform (CDP) enables businesses who have historically struggled with data management across systems. The Real-Time CDP’s advanced analytics and AI-driven algorithms help uncover hidden patterns and trends, allowing businesses to optimize marketing campaigns, drive conversions, and maximize customer lifetime value. Seamlessly integrating with other Adobe Experience Cloud solutions, Real-Time CDP helps unify customers across channels and touchpoints, providing a comprehensive customer view and delivering consistent, personalized experiences at scale. “Needs around CDPs are shifting. The conversation has gone from ‘We need a CDP’ to ‘We need to use our CDP effectively and move the needle on monetization.’ Adobe’s Real-Time CDP is positioned well to address this pain point. From its integrations with cutting-edge tools like Customer Journey Analytics and Journey Optimizer to Sensei, its generative AI engine, Adobe is focused on breaking down the barriers that are holding customers back from maximizing the value of their CDPs.” – Bethany Hartley, Vice President of Analytics Microsoft Security Copilot empowers organizations in their quest to enhance cybersecurity defense and incident response. The technology leverages generative AI to detect hidden patterns, harden defenses, and respond to incidents faster. Its 65 trillion daily signals help teams synthesize data and triage threat signals so that they can respond to attackers at speed and scale. Not to mention, its integration with other Microsoft security tools and services further makes onboarding easy, enabling organizations to leverage their existing investments in Microsoft’s security ecosystem. “What sets the new AI capabilities within the Microsoft Security Copilot product apart is their ability to intelligently detect and respond to security threats in real time. By leveraging advanced algorithms and machine learning models, these capabilities provide a unique level of proactive defense against evolving cyber threats. Their continuous learning and adaptation ensure that organizations benefit from cutting-edge security measures that effectively safeguard sensitive data and networks.” – Rob Peterson, Principal of Cybersecurity



An AI Chatbot with Instant Answers

A Computing-Based Data Cloud Company

Snowflake is the leader in the data cloud warehouse space. This platform enables organizations to store, manage, and analyze massive volumes of data with remarkable speed, flexibility, and scalability. Its unique architecture separates storage and computing, allowing users to scale each independently based on their specific needs. This decoupling enables efficient resource utilization and cost optimization, making Snowflake highly attractive for businesses of all sizes. “As enterprises increasingly rely heavily on data to drive competitive decision-making, cloud data warehouse platforms like Snowflake have emerged as critical components of a modern data strategy. Combining cutting edge tech with a pragmatic product vision and excellent user experience, Snowflake has positioned itself as a major force in the data modernization revolution.” – Keir Anderson, Senior Manager of Data Management

ChatGPT’s natural language processing tool, driven by AI technology, allows users to have human-like conversations and source information within seconds. The language model answers questions and assists with tasks, such as composing emails, essays, and code. By providing an intuitive and accessible interface for interacting with an AI-powered language model, ChatGPT is democratizing access to advanced natural language processing technology, making it a leading solution for businesses, researchers, and individuals seeking reliable and versatile language-based assistance. “AI is more than a buzzword now. Tools like ChatGPT are acting as force-multipliers to enable workforces. Grassroot usage has sprung up among tech crowds and developers even where there aren’t formal programs in place. While it’s still in the early days in terms of industrialized usage, the technology will be transformative.” – Dave Cyr, Director of Architecture


A Tech-Flexible & User-Friendly Experience Builder

As a leading headless content management system (CMS), Uniform empowers businesses to deliver personalized and consistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints. The platform helps businesses build high-performance digital experiences while supporting existing MarTech investments. Uniform’s integration with various data sources, analytics tools, and marketing automation platforms provides customers with a holistic view of user behavior and enables data-driven decision-making. Its tech integrates in minutes, infuses seamless design elements, and empowers marketers with no- code software to build immersive and exceptional experiences. “Uniform is a paradigm shift in the digital ecosystem; away from the dated idea that a CMS should manage all things experience. Uniform combines data pipelines, design systems, WYSIWYG page management, personalization, and A/B testing with a modern React/ NextJs framework.” – Jerry Hill, Chief Technology Officer


An Open-Source Framework Built on a Single Codebase

“Flutter appears poised to impact mobile app development in a similar way to how Angular changed the game on the web as one of the first SPA frameworks. With Google behind it, we’ll almost certainly be hearing and seeing a lot more of Flutter going forward.” – Ryan Decker, Director of Digital and User Experience

With its combination of versatility, efficiency, and ease of use, Flutter is transforming the app development process. Created by Google, its framework and UI software development kit builds beautiful, natively-compiled, multi-platform applications in a single codebase. Its fast performance, multi-platform reach, and intuitive workflow has made it trusted by a global community of developers.

16 | The Top Tech of 2023

The Top Tech of 2023 | 17



If data is the new currency of business, most organizations are sitting on a gold mine. The problem, unfortunately, is companies need to manage their data effectively before they can cash in. We caught up with three experts in data management to share their guidance on best practices, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to build a data- driven culture that stands the test of time.


The New Currency of Business

Jeff Rogers Director of Data Management at Concord

How do you define effective data management, and what are the key components contributing to its organizational success?

Jeff Rogers: Data is the underpinning of every business transaction and spans every inch of the organization. It should drive all decision-making processes. Effective data management comes down to three things: (1) a culture where business leaders understand the value and want data to make decisions, (2) clearly identified owners responsible for defining data and delivering data to stakeholders, and (3) measurement capabilities around the effectiveness of data utilization throughout the organization. Anne Pronschinske: Effective data management is pretty straightforward when dealing with small-scale use cases and systems. It really boils down to creating and capturing high-quality data and building standardization in context, as well as documenting the meaning of that data for ongoing appropriate use. This becomes a lot more challenging

with large and wide data sets and within complex organizations with multifaceted services, such as healthcare. Travis Richardson: Academia has a model for effective data management called FAIR, which I really like. Data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. Commercial organizations can benefit from this approach because it emphasizes viewing data as an asset that can continue delivering value long past its initial use. It also ensures reproducibility, which has gained a lot of attention in recent years because many scientific studies have been difficult or impossible to reproduce. To achieve FAIRness, enterprises need to de-silo data and use platforms designed for discoverability and collaboration while also maintaining data privacy and regulatory compliance.

Effective data management makes all the difference between winning and losing in the market.

Anne Pronschinske Director of Data & Analytics at Mayo Clinic

Travis Richardson Chief Strategist at Flywheel

18 | Panel of Experts

Panel of Experts | 19


Anne Pronschinske: One of the best ways to support a data-driven culture in an organization is to create a shared language to help the whole organization speak the “language of data” and protect data as a strategic asset. It is critical to wrap data work in purposeful culture change management. This can be done through infusion of a data literacy program and particularly through fostering strong stewardship throughout the organization. Travis Richardson: In healthcare, organizations are beginning to recognize the value of robust data management platforms not just for their role in supporting operational tasks but also driving forward the advancement of research and innovation. More broadly, we see more enthusiastic adoption of digital transformation efforts when stakeholders understand how much automation can help reduce the workload of previously manual tasks. What trends or innovations do you foresee in data management and transformation, and how should organizations prepare for these changes? Anne Pronschinske: Innovation continues around data platform capabilities that automate master, reference, and metadata management, as well as self-service data transformation capabilities. To prepare for these changes, data literacy maturation is critical, as jobs and roles will begin to shift from traditional data management activities to new support roles in an increasingly automated and digital environment.

organizing data. Automation can play a big part in flipping this paradigm, even with complex objects like medical imaging. The right data platform can ingest petabytes of data and use rules to standardize curation, pre-processing, and machine learning workflows, as well as provide the provenance and documentation to ensure consistency and reproducibility. Can you discuss some best practices for data governance and ensuring data quality throughout the data management process? Jeff Rogers: The first step for effective data governance is agreeing on what data governance means to your organization. Once you’ve done so, there are two crucial elements to ensuring sound governance and quality. First, make sure to have an accountable person for data governance end-to-end. And second, don’t ignore your source systems. Trying to clean up data after the fact is not a long-term solution. Ensure your data quality solutions are fed back into the source systems to permanently solve the problem. Anne Pronschinske: Best practices for data governance include managing master data, reference data, and metadata as part of the data infrastructure and, of course, doing that as close to the source as possible. One of the best ways we’ve found we can ensure those practices are followed and that the right data quality checks and balances are made is to closely align stewardship practices with individuals who know the data best. The stewards help ensure that the data represents the domain appropriately, while the development teams follow best practice guidance for governance and quality.

What challenges do organizations face when managing and transforming large volumes of data, and how can they overcome these obstacles? Jeff Rogers: The single biggest challenge most organizations face is understanding what data means at each step of the journey. We encourage our customers to take a tiered approach to data management that provides a central availability of core data to multiple data consumers and allows the data consumers to further align and refine the data to their individual needs and interpretations. Anne Pronschinske: Fortunately, we’ve come a long way when it comes to leveraging cloud capabilities to deal with large volumes of data. However, some of the challenges around data locality remain, particularly in large organizations with multi-cloud or hybrid solutions. The challenge around sharing data at scale has been solved by many industries like retail, finance, or insurance but remains a challenge for many healthcare organizations due to the nature of patient care and the highly regulated environment. Travis Richardson: Healthcare and life sciences organizations are often challenged to gain access to high-quality, diverse data sets. Even once the data is available, it needs to be harmonized with consistent labeling and standardized formatting. This is particularly true when data comes from multiple sources (e.g., clinical trial or multicenter study). Data science teams put in extensive time and effort to manage data, leaving little time for analysis; in fact, 80% of a data scientist’s time is spent finding, curating, and

In your experience, what are the most common mistakes organizations make when implementing data management and transformation initiatives, and how can they be avoided? Jeff Rogers: The most common mistake we see is organizations not working together on data management. IT often has intentionally or unintentionally created barriers to innovation using data. Business teams have done data management and engineering in a vacuum, probably using a lot of Excel. When this occurs, there are organizational inefficiencies, but more importantly, the quality of the data and the results of using the data are poor. It is essential to have a data strategy where business and IT teams collaborate to create valuable, trusted, and quality data. Anne Pronschinske: One of the most common mistakes an organization can make when implementing data management initiatives is to focus solely on the data and the technology without considering the people and process change needed to truly generate value from data and analytics insights. Data management should be an investment for the business, not only monetarily but also in the form of stewardship and citizenship.

How can organizations leverage emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to enhance their data management and transformation efforts? Jeff Rogers: The recent floodgates of generative AI have turned the AI world on its head. It’s too soon to determine the impact, but all companies should at least be considering a medium-term strategy around generative AI. AI can also be really interesting from a predictive modeling perspective. My favorite use case for AI is using it to automatically detect and fix data quality issues early in the data engineering processes. Effectively doing so can have large-sweeping effects on downstream results. Anne Pronschinske: There are many applications of AI and ML to enhance data management and transformation. Automation of data quality checks and AI-driven monitoring are extremely useful. Not to mention, the use of Large Language Models (LLM) for data management and contextualization remains promising in upcoming years. Travis Richardson: AI and ML are dependent on having a data management infrastructure that streamlines data aggregation and curation while accounting for privacy, governance, and provenance. Flywheel provides healthcare providers and researchers with this type of infrastructure for complex analysis by making data more structured, accessible, and standardized.

What are some real-world examples of successful data management and transformation projects, and what lessons can be learned from these cases? Anne Pronschinske: The most successful examples of data management and transformation projects will generate “data domains” as products that allow for maximization of data domain or product reuse while eliminating duplicative efforts within those domains. Designing data domains like products infuses many of the principles of good product management into the generation of reusable data for multi-purpose use cases. Many organizations now look to employ principles of data-mesh architecture in their enterprise data strategies which include treating data like a product, fostering domain ownership (stewardship), generating a self-serve data infrastructure platform, and federated governance. How can organizations create a data-driven culture that supports and prioritizes effective data management and transformation across all departments? Jeff Rogers: The answer is simple: solve tactical challenges. If your data management solutions don’t actively make or save your company money, you shouldn’t do them. Once you deliver one or two solutions that positively impact the business’s bottom line, it’s amazing how much cultural buy-in you can generate.

20 | Panel of Experts

Panel of Experts | 21


A Note From Our Founder A global consulting company with roots in an Edina basement, Concord turned 20 this year. Stu Nutting shares his perspective on the organization’s growth ahead of his upcoming retirement. In our twentieth year of helping customers with their most difficult technology and business challenges, I’ve decided to retire from the day-to-day operation at Concord. My last day will be August 31, 2023. In 2003, a few fantastic humans and I started Concord in my basement. Geez, time flies when you’re having fun. But now, it’s time to let other fantastic humans step up and take Concord to the next level. I will continue to serve on the board and be part of the Concord team, looking for any way I can to help this platform find more success. I’ve taken time to thank our employees who have busted their butts for us over the years, and now I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers for their support, as well. Thank you for trusting us to help you find good people and bringing us in to execute critical work for your organization. I truly appreciate every dollar you spend with Concord, and I trust you receive the value you expected. I’m very proud of what we built over the years. When I look at our recent growth, the strategic acquisitions we made, the new clients we serve, and the legacy clients we continue to support, I can’t help but be super excited for the future of Concord, its employees, and its clients.

Data to Dollars Free eBook

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For years, our internal brand at Concord has been “We Get Sh*t Done.” And that’s not gonna change. We’re not afraid of the messy stuff, we’re the first to grab a shovel when it’s time to get to work, and we hire super smart people that help our customers with a very no-nonsense consultative approach. If you aren’t working with Concord, you are making a mistake. After being in the consulting business for twenty years, I’ll put our people up against anyone in the industry when it comes to caring about the finished product, telling you the truth when you need to hear it, and bringing the best solutions and ideas to accomplish your goals. And, as you all know, nothing ever goes perfectly, but our people don’t sit around and cry about it. They look for ways to make it better, ‘cause that’s who they are.

I’ll close with one of my favorite go-to pieces of advice that I read on a framed poster in a badass gym: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.”

Good luck with all that you do, and when you need sh*t done, call Concord.

Your friend, - Stu Nutting, Co-Founder of Concord

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22 | A Note From Our Founder

MN Tech Mag | 23


The Importance of Passion at Work

At Passion Collective, we focus on rediscovering or creating harmonious passion. The women who are drawn to Passion Collective call themselves “Passion Seekers” or “Passionados.” They are looking to rediscover the activities in work and life that feel good to them and give them meaning and energy. Passion at work looks and feels differently for every individual. Typically, it is found at the crossroads of what you’re good at, a business need, and an impact you want to make.

Ignite Your Passion at Work Learn the secret to finding meaning in your career and supercharging your potential at any stage in life.

Everybody has unique talents and the potential to help other humans. When you find your passion in work, you feel aligned with your values and skills. You know that you’re making a difference, not just in your life, but in your customers’ or team’s lives. You can sleep better at night knowing you are putting your talents to the best use possible and feel good doing it. I believe it’s our duty and responsibility to figure out our passion at work. Because if we don’t, we’re missing all these opportunities to live our best lives and help others. Now, it’s unrealistic to think that 100% of any job will fill you with pure joy and passion! I have yet to find or read about anybody who achieves that goal, me included! It’s your job to figure out how much of your work week should light you up. I was once told that as a leader, I should expect 30% of my working week to be work that I didn’t enjoy. For me, that wasn’t going to cut it, and it was a clear sign that culture was not for me. On the flip side, some organizations make the mistake of demanding that their employees are 100% passion-driven and that they prove it publicly. If you’re forcing people to feel passionate, you’ve got a problem with toxic positivity, and - at best - you’ll lose your best people.

Bringing Passion Collective to Life

Laura Best, Founder, Passion Collective

In 2014, I was an accomplished marketing leader. I had just become a mum to a beautiful daughter and had a top job at a national consulting agency which meant high pressure, billable hours, and frequent travel. On the outside, I appeared successful, but I realized that I had lost sight of the things that I loved to do. I was lacking a sense of fulfillment, and I was serving everybody before myself. It was a classic case of burnout with an undercurrent of questioning about who I was and where I was going. I was curious about this and wondered if the awesome women I knew felt the same. So, I started a Facebook group and began sharing things I loved - books, shows, ideas. The conversation grew, so I created events and workshops to create the energy of sharing, encouragement, and support. My hope was that if we got the right women with similar intentions in one room, we could help each other rediscover that “spark.” Now in 2023, we’re a community of 8,500+ people who identify as women (and many male allies!) who are seeking their passion. It shows what a universal need this is.

Passion is an energy you feel when you’re connected to the things that you love to do or the beliefs that light you up. In the 17th century, there was a philosopher called Spinoza. He believed that every acceptable thought came from reason, and every unacceptable thought came from passion. For thousands of years, passion has been related to suffering or hardship – even the Latin word for suffering is “passio.” There are two different types of passions, according to a group of French philosophers who published research on the subject 20 years ago. One is “harmonious passion” – this is an activity that makes your life better. You’re not overly driven by this activity, but it’s something that you want to do willingly. Then, there is “obsessive passion,” which is the opposite. It can create conflict in your life and relationships. This is where addiction comes in, or pursuing dangerous hobbies that put your life or the lives of other people at risk. Obsessive passion is a passion that you can’t help yourself but do, and it can be very destructive.

24 | Ignite Your Passion at Work

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