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Managing Director and Head of Digital Risk James Hann discusses the development of the Digital Risk team and how it supports clients in a rapidly-changing digital landscape

March 2023
 by James Hann

Managing Director and Head of Digital Risk James Hann discusses the development of the Digital Risk team and how it supports clients in a rapidly-changing digital landscape

March 2023
 By James Hann

Before joining Digitalis in 2018, James Hann spent eight years in the British Army. He discusses how he applied this expertise to the area of online reputation management for Digitalis’s clients, including law firms, public and private companies, and governments.

1. Tell us a little about your background, how you came to work at Digitalis, and the particular areas of expertise that you bring to your clients.

I left the military in 2018 after serving for eight years. While there, I gained skills in operations, interpersonal communications, and relationship management which have been extremely useful in my predominantly client-facing role at Digitalis.

I began working in Digitalis’s Client Services team, delivering online reputation management projects for a wide range of clients. This is where I developed my understanding of search engines, social media platforms, and the wider digital landscape.

In 2019, we created the Digital Risk Practice, using our own specialised technology to facilitate a tech-led approach to identifying online risks for our clients. Demand drove our expansion, and we widened our range of services with the aid of our talented team of in-house full-stack developers. We have since created a number of additional tools we use every day to protect our clients from online risk.

2. What is the scope of your Digital Risk team’s work, what type of clients do you work with, and how is the team equipped to help protect those clients against risks from the digital environment?

We have purposefully recruited from several areas of industry to give us a broad depth of knowledge across the team. The team now includes social media experts, business and political risk analysts, and individuals from the financial and legal sectors. We speak eight languages in the Digital Risk team, and many more across the wider company.

We offer a technology-led approach that gives us a very thorough coverage of indexed web and social media sources. Beyond these, we are expert at investigating the deep web for non-indexed web results, and we have access to a range of other sophisticated media and public records databases. This approach allows us to be highly flexible and add value to the complex situations our clients face and as such, our work is varied. Our client base includes private wealth individuals, corporates, legal clients, and governments.

3. You also lead Digitalis’s Government Practice. What unique challenges do your public sector clients face, and how do you work with them to approach these challenges?

The challenges facing the public sector are enormous, and as a former public servant I sympathise with the scale of them. Digitalis has always worked closely with governments to address online risks, from our early work analysing extremist content on search engines, to our more recent work investigating and analysing state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. We are closely engaged at various levels to contribute to the conversation on how to deal with these challenges.

In October last year, my colleague Carys Whomsley and I were invited to attend a summit on disinformation challenges in Europe hosted by the Czech Presidency. One the principal challenges discussed was the lack of formalised knowledge-sharing frameworks between the public and private sectors. Continued work on increasing the level of cooperation between small to medium sized technology companies and governments is critical to facing the risks posed.

4. Finally, how can your clients make sure they remain aware of the risks to their privacy and online reputation posed by the ever-changing online world?

It takes commitment to keep pace with developments in the area of online risk, but consistency is key – spending a small amount of time every week keeping up with digital trends and considering how they may impact your business will help you to stay informed and prepared. There are many good sources providing succinct updates on changes in the digital world, and we publish regular news articles on the Digitalis website covering the latest trends and how they impact the world of digital risk and reputation management.

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