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Emakina Agency talks with the Horizon Interactive Awards about the 2014 Top Agency Honor

For the first time in the 13 year history of the Horizon Interactive Awards competition, we are recognizing an agency as the “Top Agency / Developer” based on the sum of all work entered into the competition. The Top Agency / Developer award is considered our highest non-entry honor and we would like to congratulate Emakina, from Brussels, Belgium as the winner of our inaugural Top Agency award.

With us today is Brice Le Blévennec, CEO of Emakina to discuss the outstanding new award distinction that they have earned.

HIA: Brice, Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  Again, I congratulate you on, not only the individual wins in this year’s competition, but achieving this year’s “Top Agency” award.

Emakina: That is amazing, thanks you for this recognition. We are truly honored and grateful.

HIA: Please start off by telling us what you feel are the most critical components to your ability to create outstanding work for your clients.

Emakina: Motivated talents! To create outstanding work, we have motivated people that have a drive, not just to deliver what is expected, to delight the client by going further. Our teams gather experts in design, front-end and back-end development, information architecture, project management that really enjoy creating stuff together, bigger than what they can achieve by themselves.

HIA: So what does it mean to your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Emakina: It’s very important for our people to get recognition from their peers, as the quality of what we do is not easy to understand at the first sight if you’re not in our industry. Creativity is easy to spot but it is often in the effectiveness, in technical details or in the subtleties of the user experience that a piece of work is outstanding.

HIA: Tell us more about your company. Talk, if you would, about how it started, how it has grown, what changes you have seen in the company.

Emakina: Emakina started in Brussels, Belgium in 2001 as the merge between a creative digital boutique agency (Ex Machina) and an e-business agency (Emalaya). We’ve grown from 35 people to more than 600 people today located in 11 cities in Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Switzerland. We started as a Web Agency and turned ourselves into a Full Service Digital Transformation Agency that helps companies seize the opportunities that the digital disruption created. We work mainly for corporations on innovation, integrated and digital marketing and implementation of digital tools to optimize their processes.

HIA: How will you continue produce industry leading work?

Emakina: First by investing in talent. We constantly scoot the world for the bests and provide them an environment to learn, shine and show the best of them. We have a great client portfolio, brands that trust us for years and give us the means to invest in great work. Second by adapting our service offering, continuously. Last year we launched our own Qualitative Consumer Research unit (Emakina/Insight), this year we are launching an Internet of Things Unit (Emakina/Things). We also take on new platforms (in 2014 Adobe Experience Manager, SiteFinity, EPIServer). Third never standing still in the market. In the last 8 years we have acquired and integrated 20 agencies. Each of these bring new competences, new talents, new clients, … it’s like a new blood injection that give you more energy and makes you young again.

HIA: What do you think makes Emakina special?

Emakina: At Emakina we love change, change create opportunities. We are constantly observing the market and we evolve faster than the competition. We aim to be where the puck will be, not where it is. Most of us are real geeks with a strategic brain. We like new tech but love those that create impact. Our managers are not hired guns but people that grew into their position over time; they have the respect and trust of their teams. We grew into a multinational, but we make a point of staying foolish and hungry. We experiment, we win, we loose, but we always try.

HIA: Speaking more generally, what trends are you seeing in the industry and how digital / interactive media is evolving.

Emakina: The Wild West gold rush of digital is over and clients are looking for clear ROI. Agencies need to be transparent and deliver results. Clients understand the need to experiment so agencies can fail sometimes but it’s key to measure results and improve on everything you do. Another trends in our industry is the consolidation of digital infrastructures (Hosting, CMS, CRM…) and centralization of digital projects (Web building, SEM, Social Monitoring…) at regional (Europe, US, Asia, EEMA…) or global level. Agencies need to be equipped to serve brands and rollout internationally, or they need to join forces in networks. Finally at technical level, we obviously are moving to mobile first if not mobile only for most long-term projects.

HIA: We know you have entered past Horizon Awards competitions, what do you feel is the biggest benefit from being a participant in the competition.

Emakina: In general participating to Award competitions give you a good reason to document your cases so it motivate the team to think about the making of when they produce and to have clear strategies that can be explained.

It’s peers, real people that know the job, that judge the Horizon Awards. So their judgment is only about the work, and not influenced by politics (like the fact that an agency belong to their network). It’s well organized and the categories reflect the structure of our industry better than some other Awards competitions focusing only on campaigns. Also it focuses on the User Experience, which is the main criteria we judge the quality of our work, ourselves. Finally the Items we get (and offer to our clients) when we win an award are premium. So clients are happy and teams are happy.

HIA: Brice, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  We are truly excited to share your story with our audience as well as promote the great work you do. Once again, congratulations on the Top Agency award. You should be very proud of this achievement. We wish you continued success this year and hope to have you back in future competitions.