We asked Tom Jones, the CEO and Founder of Iridium Technology to tell us more about his career path, what he loves most about what he does and how the legal industry and the delivery of legal services has changed as a result of the pandemic. Connect with Tom on LinkedIn.
Tell us how you got into your field.
You may find it hard to believe, but as a boy running around in Orange County, it was not my dream to grow up and develop business intelligence solutions for large law firms! It was actually random chance: a buddy of mine and I had started a consulting firm, and our first client was a large law firm in San Francisco. We built some financial reporting and budgeting applications for that firm and ended up buying the rights to the source code back from the firm and taking our products to market. That was the start of my exclusive focus on business intelligence for law firms for the past 24 years.
I have always been entrepreneurial, so I started Iridium technology as a way to offer law firms better products and better service for their business intelligence needs. It is amazing for me to think that over the past 11 years, Iridium has grown from a one-man shop to become a legal BI powerhouse with almost 80 employees, 275+ clients, 16 products and a global presence.
What do you love most about what you do?
I think it's great that you use the emotion "love" in this question because that is the emotion that I use to describe how I feel running Iridium Technology. I love everything about Iridium: our clients, our products, our team members, our technologies and our bright future.
I view Iridium as the world's biggest Lego set, and I get to play with it every day. I'm particularly proud of our high client satisfaction statistics, specifically that our NPS score has been a 9.2 or a 9.3 every time we have surveyed our client base over the last six years.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing law firms today in terms of their relationship with outside counsel and the major changes and threats in the legal industry?
I know there are 20 different applicable answers, but the first one that comes to mind for me is "your biggest challenge is your competitors." There are a lot of very high-quality firms out there competing for business. If your firm makes a misstep or does not give a client incredible levels of service, there are hundreds of firms ready to step in and deliver.
For example, if your firm didn't handle the transfer to work from home smoothly this year, you probably lost some clients. Firms need to focus on making sure that all of their systems, processes and procedures are leading to higher levels of service and higher client satisfaction. Iridium offers a broad range of products to address your firm's financial analysis profitability and budgeting/forecasting needs. Protecting and growing firm profitability allows your firm to continue to deliver high-quality service and thrive in a highly competitive environment.
How has your role changed as a result of the pandemic?
Iridium has been a virtual company since day one, so there was literally zero impact on our internal operations from COVID. This allowed us to focus our efforts on helping our clients to smooth their business transitions during COVID. As an example, we quickly launched an upgraded set of dashboards to help our clients manage cashflow better during the pandemic.
Additionally, we provided several modules to clients that help clients ease the transition to remote work – specifically around processing prebills and automatic distribution of reports. At Iridium, we pride ourselves on being an extremely agile organization, and COVID actually gave us an opportunity to quickly pivot our efforts to focus on the urgent needs of our client base.
Tell us a fun or surprising fact about yourself.
Those of you who know me recognize that I'm famous for oversharing, so I will go with this answer, which is the genesis story for Iridium.
2009 was a very rough year for me: I was recovering from cancer, recently divorced, not in a relationship, had two young boys and no idea how they would turn out, and my finances had been wiped out from the combination of divorce plus cancer plus the 2008/2009 recession. To add to that already dire situation, I got laid off from my job at Aderant. I didn't need to burn all the ships on the beach before starting my campaign because they had already been burned for me.
My friends and family told me, "don't worry, Tom, with your energy and enthusiasm, this will be the best thing that ever happened to you." I thought that was a possible outcome, but I also thought that I might be bankrupt in three months. So, I started Iridium with my back against the wall and worked tirelessly to build it to where it is today. It's amazing what you can accomplish if you work 70 hours a week for 11 years straight: Iridium is thriving, even in a tough economic year, my health is excellent and I'm cancer-free, I'm remarried to the love of my life, and my boys turned out spectacular. I'm incredibly grateful for my family, my health and the opportunity to lead Iridium. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, ready to go full blast in this beautiful adventure that we call life.