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Authority Magazine: Patrick Quinlan of Confience On The Digital Divide - Why & How We Should Close It

Release Date:

April 2, 2024

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Original article: LINK

Author: Monica Sanders

Integrity matters more than winning. I was raised with a winning mentality and carried that through to most everything I do in my personal and professional life. Understanding the power of losing, while maintaining all integrity, is better than winning with elbows. It is a powerful lesson.

Digital inequality reinforces existing social disparities, demanding considerable efforts to acknowledge and address this pressing issue. In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, policymakers, think tanks and experts on this topic to share their insights and stories about “How Companies and Policymakers Are Taking Action and Can Further Contribute to Closing the Digital Divide.” As part of this series, I had the pleasure to interview Patrick Quinlan, CEO Confience.

Patrick Quinlan is the CEO of Confience, a LIMS software solution that empowers laboratory and quality managers to build trusted products powered by science. He was previously the Co-Founder and CEO of Convercent, a leading global Ethics and Compliance software company with over 1,300 customers, including 20% of the Fortune 500, which was successfully sold to OneTrust in 2021. He also served as CEO of Rivet Software, a high-growth GRC company that earned a #6 placement on the 2011 Inc. 500 List, and Delta Translation, which was sold to LFI in 1999.

Patrick has served as a board member of Youth on Record and Young Americans Center for Financial Education, the country’s only FDIC-insured bank designed to teach financial literacy to children, and currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for CoachBetter, a Swiss-based sports tech company, and ESGflo, a Bain Ventures-backed ESG software company.

He and his wife Kyla are advisors to Unseen, a UK charity that runs a Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline and provides safehouses for survivors of trafficking and modern slavery. This work introduced them to groups fighting slavery at its origin in West Africa, where they have lived with their children Huck, Ama, Fae, and Poe.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was born and raised in Germany in a military family, but due to my German mother, we are culturally German in our traditions and how we lived. Learning how to live and operate in multiple cultures has been a skill that has informed much of my life from my passion for travel, as well as the global software companies I’ve had the honor of leading.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I recently read Surrender by Bono and was deeply touched by the book. I grew up a big fan of the band, which was driven by the consistency of their success, the quality of their music, and the impact they had on the world outside of that music. Reading these stories and seeing the power of the loyalty between the band, the dedication to their craft, and the space they gave each other to follow their own paths, speaks to both my personal and professional life.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“Onward and Upward!!” is a quote I use multiple times a day in conversation and emails. It encompasses my growth and learning mindset to start every day assuming I will learn something valuable and do something that matters before that day ends. It’s the core of our own family values that drives the passion with which we attack life.

Ok, thank you. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. How would you define the Digital Divide? Can you explain or give an example?

The Digital Divide illustrates the gap between individuals, groups, or organizations that can access modern technology and those left behind. For everyday people, this can manifest as a lack of access to high-speed internet in a rural area or lack of digital literacy. But the Digital Divide can also exist between industries. Today, modern technologies, like generative AI, data software, and cloud computing, have transformed industries from sales to cybersecurity. However, some sectors, like the software behind testing and ensuring the safety of our water, food, and products relies on woefully outdated software. The majority of today’s Laboratory Information Management Software (LIMS) vendors were not built as software-first companies and are virtually untouched by digital transformation. Many began as professional services providers, and as modern software automated and streamlined operations for entire industries, LIMS lagged behind. The Digital Divide is very pronounced in this space. The result is that lab teams’ day-to-day work is more difficult, and organizations are left more vulnerable to risk without the use of reliable software and reporting solutions.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to close the digital divide? Can you share a story with us?

Recently, we were working with one of our key customers, a Municipal Water District, that provides sewer and reclamation services to one of the largest cities in North America. We quickly learned that technicians who are working outside collecting water samples were still using pen and paper to mark down the results, which is difficult during rain and cold winter months. The techs shared their hope to track the information electronically on an e-pad. This digital divide not only created discomfort for the technicians, but inevitably improved the quality of the data the lab had available to make decisions.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important to create change in this area?

Consumers are more concerned than ever about the safety of what they eat, drink, and buy. In fact, one-third of consumers said product quality was more important in 2023 than the year prior. When it comes to water quality, U.S. consumer concern doubled (+106%) since 2021 alone. Labs within these essential organizations ensure our safety but, despite their critical role, the software landscape intended to support them has stayed stagnant. They’re then forced to conform to these outdated or cumbersome structures, even if it doesn’t align with their workflows. Data today is often tracked manually, taking away crucial time for testing and creating potential inconsistencies. If the trajectory of the LIMS space doesn’t pivot soon, the gap between today’s modern technical standards and this industry will only widen. This leaves brands and public entities increasingly vulnerable to the risk — and sometimes catastrophic implications — of recalls, audits, and safety/quality crises. This is an opportunity to set a new standard for technical sophistication, customer outcomes, and brand trust in the LIMS ecosystem.

What specific actions has your company or organization taken to address the digital divide, and how do you ensure that your efforts are making a positive impact in the communities you serve?

At Confience, we’re dedicated to closing the digital divide for these labs and bring LIMS software into the 21st century. We’re currently building on developing a new LIMS solution that is flexible, ensuring that labs can make the transition from on-premise to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model at a reasonable pace. It will also be intuitive and optimized for efficiency, complete with automated workflows to support, not hinder, their current operations. As labs become more efficient and create more data, we’ll be able to collect it all in a cloud-based, product-agnostic data platform, enabling automatic data import and a tool where teams can easily access and analyze data. This will improve productivity, result analysis, and allow them to spot trends more easily. Our ultimate goal is to enable improved safety, compliance, and quality outcomes. This in turn, will benefit consumer safety, build brand trust, reduce corporate risk, support business outcomes, and contribute to a safer world for all.

What are some of the challenges that individuals or communities face when trying to bridge the digital divide?

In general, One of the major challenges in bridging the digital divide lies in accessibility. Many communities, especially in rural or underprivileged areas, lack the basic infrastructure for internet connectivity. Even when infrastructure is present, affordability becomes a barrier. In the LIMS space, accessibility to modern, robust solutions is a significant challenge, especially for smaller, under-resourced labs. Affordability of advanced software and the hardware required for optimal operation can prevent many organizations from adopting better systems. There’s also a considerable gap in digital literacy; technicians and scientists may be experts in their field but not necessarily in the latest software, which can impede the adoption and effective use of new technologies. Finally, language and regional differences can complicate the deployment of standardized systems, leading to disparities in data quality and reporting across regions.

What role do you see technology companies playing in closing the digital divide, and what steps can they take to ensure that their products and services are accessible to all?

Our role extends beyond providing solutions; we must ensure they are accessible and beneficial to all layers of our target industries. This includes developing scalable software that fits various sizes and types of labs, from small local facilities to large multinational corporations. Pricing strategies need to be flexible to accommodate the financial realities of different organizations, and teams must be dedicated to supporting their customer. For example, our employees are not only experts in the industries we serve, but are also adept at seamlessly bridging the gap between the intricate content of laboratory work and the specific processes involved in it. This dedication ensures our users can fully leverage the capabilities of our LIMS solutions with confidence and precision. We must strive to make our software intuitive and user-friendly, reducing the barrier to entry for less tech-savvy users. Finally, ensuring our software supports multiple languages and complies with regional standards and evolving regulations can help bridge the divide on a global scale.

Because of investment coming from the federal government, we have funding for great access to infrastructure and digital skills training. In your view, what other policy changes are needed to address the digital divide? How can companies and policymakers work together to implement these changes?

Although I advocate for policies that not only support broader internet infrastructure in general, I also believe policies should specifically enhance the technological capabilities of environmental, food & beverage, and manufacturing sectors in the interest of public safety. This includes subsidies or tax incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to upgrade their technological infrastructure and adopt modern LIMS solutions. Policies should also promote data standardization and interoperability between systems to improve collaboration and efficiency across the industry. Educational initiatives should include specialized training programs for lab technicians and scientists, enhancing their digital skills and familiarity with new technologies. Regulations should also encourage or require the use of updated software solutions to ensure higher quality and consistency of testing and reporting, driving demand for modern LIMS systems and ultimately creating a safer product.

We are already in Web3.0. What should we be doing as leaders to ensure the next iteration(s) of the Web are green, accessible and beneficial to as many people as possible?

In a decentralized system, data breaches or leaks will become more difficult to address. Additionally, the responsibility for data security shifts more towards the individual users, who may not always have the necessary knowledge or tools to protect their data (and other digital assets) sufficiently. This is where educational initiatives are so crucial, for both the company and the end user. Web 3.0 also presents a unique challenge in that it creates a race between rapid developments and regulations, and companies must ensure compliance, especially with sensitive data. While this is the adjustment of today, we should always be ready for the adjustment of tomorrow by staying up-to-date with advancements in the field and never losing sight of what they mean for safer, more sustainable, more efficient, and compliant business practices worldwide.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?

  1. Get a mentor. When you get out of school, you think you have the merit badges needed to be a success in life. I made a bunch of mistakes and later on was granted the amazing gift of a mentor from a board of directors I worked with. the lessons I learned from her would have saved a decade of pain.
  2. Integrity matters more than winning. I was raised with a winning mentality and carried that through to most everything I do in my personal and professional life. Understanding the power of losing, while maintaining all integrity, is better than winning with elbows. It is a powerful lesson.
  3. Relationships First. Too often, when I was young, my relationships with family and friends were more, “What can you do for me?” rather than, “How can I help you?”– not a good way to live.
  4. Diversity Matters. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you and look at life through another lens. the richness of life is our differences more than our similarities
  5. Be kind. That’s it. Just Be Kind!

What role can individuals play in closing the digital divide, and what steps can they take to support these efforts?

In the quest to close the digital divide, each of us can make a meaningful impact. Advocating for better digital access in our communities and supporting products that prioritize inclusive design are fundamental steps. Engaging in policy discussions gives us a voice in shaping initiatives for digital equity. Additionally, by continually learning about new technologies and sharing this knowledge, we not only enhance our own digital literacy but also empower those around us. Through these concerted efforts, we can contribute to a more inclusive and connected world.

How can our readers follow you online?


This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you. We’re committed to continuing this important work and appreciate your encouragement. Onward and Upward!!

About the Interviewer: Monica Sanders JD, LL.M, is the founder of “The Undivide Project”, an organization dedicated to creating climate resilience in underserved communities using good tech and the power of the Internet. She holds faculty roles at the Georgetown University Law Center and the Tulane University Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy. Professor Sanders also serves on several UN agency working groups. As an attorney, Monica has held senior roles in all three branches of government, private industry, and nonprofits. In her previous life, she was a journalist for seven years and the recipient of several awards, including an Emmy. Now the New Orleans native spends her time in solidarity with and championing change for those on the frontlines of climate change and digital divestment. Learn more about how to join her at: www.theundivideproject.org

Contact Information

For media inquiries or additional information, please contact:

Reina Chehayeb

Strategic Initiatives & Integration


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