David Franklin, general manager at Envisional
Cambridge based Envisional uses patented search technologies alongside a team of experienced analysts to help organisations detect and guard against counterfeiting, piracy, fraud and online brand abuse.
The company has provided brand and trade mark monitoring services to leading corporations since 1999, serving global brand owners, oil majors, international banks and Hollywood studios. A senior executive with 20 years’ experience, David Franklin joined Envisional as General Manager in 2008. His day to day responsibilities include the direction and leadership of the entire Envisional Worldwide business, including development, sales, support, customer services and consultancy to Envisional’s global customer base.Franklin has worked in senior positions at major technology businesses including IT security specialist nCipher and telecoms provider BT.
1. Can you give us some background on the founding of Envisional?
Specialising in internet monitoring to identify brand IP abuse, counterfeit products and pirated content, Envisional was formed in Cambridge in 1999 by two British scientists, Chris Swannack and Ben Coppin. It weathered the dot.com storm and grew organically until it was acquired by GroupNBT, a provider of domain names and internet-related services, in 2007. 2. How difficult is it to stay ahead of the curve in an area as fast moving as the internet?
Envisional invests in an extensive ongoing technology development programme. However, in a field as rich, varied and dynamic as the internet, shiny new technology alone cannot maintain a market leading position; so our brand experts undertake extensive technology, industry and market research in order to remain at the forefront of the field.3. Has copyright piracy had its day?
There are up to 20 million users of file sharing networks downloading and distributing pirated content at any one time – over 100 million unique users every month. Despite large-scale and successful anti-piracy action worldwide over the last decade, internet users and developers constantly innovate providing new and better ways to obtain and distribute pirated material.
4. What have been the key drivers for growth at Envisional over the past five years?
Envisional’s growth has been built upon sustainable repeat business through a commitment to deliver quality services and results based on a core suite of product capabilities, tailored to meet the needs of each individual customer. Crucial to our success has been our team of internationally respected experts in the brand and fraud landscape.5. In what ways have your technology and strategy changed over the years?
Strategically, Envisional’s business has evolved from ‘reactive’ internet monitoring services to the delivery of ‘proactive’ end-to-end brand protection services from discovery and trending to analysis, enforcement, investigation and compliance reporting. In technology terms, Envisional’s architecture has proven robust enough to meet customer needs across the evolving range of internet technologies without modification. 6. It seems as though there may be applications for your technology beyond those you are currently exploring. Do you have any plans to widen the scope of the applications or markets you are addressing?
The counterfeit, pirated content and financial and IP fraud markets show no sign of diminishing. Virtually every vertical sector suffers from counterfeiting or brand abuse and we will continue to support brand owners. However, our technology can be used to identify open source information for a myriad uses and the company continues to explore potential opportunities in other sectors7. What specific challenges does the popularity of social media present to a provider of internet intelligence and also to brand owners?
Social media can be a marketer’s dream or nightmare. The pace of change and the volume of information means that it is very difficult for brand owners alone to harness social media effectively. Envisional monitors social media sites to help brand owners benchmark awareness and gauge sentiment, highlight key issues affecting regional sales and even determine corporate strategy. 8. What are the internet trends that you see as the biggest potential opportunities and the biggest challenges?
The introduction of internationalised and liberalised domain names will be a challenge and opportunity for businesses, internet monitoring companies and fraudsters alike. The move towards on-demand media streaming and downloading over the purchase of hard goods will mean that the fraud and business landscape will change significantly.
Social media sites are changing the internet landscape beyond recognition and no-one is sure what will happen next. 9. Looking back over the past 11 years, what was your big break as company?
Without a doubt, landing a major long term contract with a global industry body in 2000. This took Envisional technology and staff outside the comfort zone to meet our commitments – but we succeeded.
This contract broke the mould of what was perceived technically possible and opened the doors to a wide range of other opportunities.10. What are your plans for the company over the next five years?
Envisional is committed to maintaining its reputation as the smartest brand protection company and to expand its customer base globally. We are bolstering our brand enforcement team to provide the very best protection against content piracy, counterfeit products, brand abuse and online financial fraud.
We also plan to increase our local presence in key geographies to ensure brand owners can police their brands effectively and protect consumers from falling foul of counterfeit products and poor quality pirated content.