Facilitation Platform Howspace Enhances Real-Time Collaboration with Whereby
Read how Howspace embedded Whereby into their digital facilitation platform to make real-time collaboration more productive and relevant to their customers.
Is there a solution to the workplace chaos of juggling chat, video meetings, information sharing — without any loss in between? There is now: Howspace embedded Whereby into their digital facilitation platform to make real-time collaboration more productive and relevant to their customers.
Finland-based Howspace was founded under another name by a team of organizational consultants in 1999, offering consulting facilitation training. Eventually, CEO Ilkka Mäkitalo realized that consulting had its limitations because of its intervention model: “How could we do something as consultants that could be permanent and meaningful for customers?”
The answer was to invent technology that would help humans collaborate better, changing organizational culture from the inside out. Digital facilitation platform Howspace was born, giving organizations a flexible, widget-based workspace. Users can build pages to facilitate meetings with asynchronous supporting features, like pre-work before a workshop or contextual chat after an event ends.
There was just one catch for their half a million users: They didn’t support video conferencing, which limited users to text-only information sharing. Incorporating Whereby Embedded solved this problem, integrating seamlessly with Howspace’s existing platform as a “Live” widget. Now, users can add video interaction wherever it makes sense in the context of their work, enriching their user experience and opening up infinite new avenues for collaboration.
Two separate windows, one huge opportunity
Howspace’s customers were using technologies like Zoom and Teams to meet together, with Howspace open in a separate window. This posed a challenge for less technically savvy users, who struggled to use two windows open at once.
At first, Howspace considered leaning on their own extensive capabilities to bootstrap a solution in-house but decided against it, since it wasn’t a core business focus and would be costly to build and maintain. Howspace chose Whereby Embedded because of how seamlessly its browser functionality integrated with the rest of their platform—without any installation hoops for their corporate users to jump through.
“Whereby Embedded works pretty nicely without any installations on mobile,” said Ilkka. “It doesn't matter what device you are using, you can still have an integrated user experience.”
Howspace users can video conference easily in the contexts they’re already working in, and then refer back to or continue any valuable conversation that started in that video call.
“It feels so good to run a meeting or workshop through [Whereby Embedded] where it's all on one page and it fits really nicely our way of working. We have quite a tailor-made solution.”
“Our solution has always been a real-time solution, but if it's only a text-based real-time solution, then it's not really supporting real-time collaboration,” shared Ilkka. “Now that we have our Live widget [...] we’re also supporting that part. ”
New possibilities abound
Whereby Embedded is so seamlessly incorporated into Howspace that its users only know it as their “Live” widget.
Users simply drag and drop Live into a workspace to open a Whereby room. From there, users can natively manage Whereby settings in Howspace, such as deciding the size of the video screen, setting capacity limits, and locking rooms. They can even control whether participants see Howspace notifications during the meeting.
This level of native customization opens up new video meeting possibilities, such as self-directed facilitation. The term may sound fancy, but it just means that people can peek into virtual rooms as easily as they would walk past a conference room in an office. Users can open a main room, for instance, and add as many Live widgets as they like to the space. People entering this virtual room can see clusters of interaction from a high level, join one group, and then move freely from group to group—all Whereby Embedded rooms seamlessly functioning within Howspace.
“That's something that is pretty unique [to Whereby],” Ilkka said. “If you try to do it with any other tools, you don't find these kinds of features.”
Whereby Embedded opened up other possibilities for Howspace features, too. One nifty function allows the meeting presenter to share their presentation material, like a slide deck, completely synchronized across participants’ personal Howspace screens during a Live call—no “can you see my screen?” awkwardness necessary.
Collaboration doesn’t have to stop after a meeting ends, either. “With this collaboration with Whereby, we can support synchronous meetings, and asynchronous meetings can be [continuous].” Ilkka says this cuts down on unnecessary struggling to tidily conclude meetings by their end times.
Interactive internal meetings
The internal Howspace team runs their all-company meetings using Whereby Embedded. Their firsthand review: “It’s pretty amazing,” said Ilkka. “You can do everything on the fly.”
Instead of sitting on Zoom waiting their turn, employees provide reports ahead of the meeting, all on the same Howspace page where their company gathering will be hosted using Whereby. Employees can review what’s relevant to their work and chat about it beforehand in a public thread, getting on the same page without being “forced” to listen to redundant info.
This means that their meetings are vibrantly interactive, with voting, visual elements, real-time sentiment analysis, and more, providing rich information to every participant. They can continue the conversation seamlessly in Howspace without losing any context from their call.
A world without pointless meetings
Whereby has supported Howspace over the years with creative solutions to any problems that arise or ideas that are worth exploring. “I have really appreciated the way Whereby is interested in listening to feedback,” said Ilkka.
For instance, Howspace learned that their customers preferred to use their own native chat function instead of Whereby’s, for continuity and information storage post-meeting, so they opted to disable chat. However, they wanted to make sure that Whereby meeting reactions like handclaps would be still available to their users. Whereby worked with Howspace to separate reactions and chat functions.
Whereby Embedded is also now playing an important role in helping Howspace open up new product use cases. Before, Howspace solely focused on work “beyond the daily practices,” like learning programs rooted in the company’s consulting background. Now, Howspace is seeing more users incorporating their platform into their day-to-day work.
Ilkka’s ambitions for using Howspace and Whereby Embedded together in the future are progressive: “I hope that we can get rid of most of the meetings that we are participating today,” he said, sharing his hopes for more ad hoc collaboration and looser networks in the future.
“The quality of the meetings are way better once you can get rid of the practice of, ‘there’s one person talking and others are listening and waiting for their turn.’”
Ilkka envisions meetings where thousands of people can tune in together and share their thoughts in multiple media during the meeting, analyzed by AI and captured in real-time.
“I hope that it's going to spread all over, to change how people are working together and how everyone is feeling. That they are appreciated and heard.”
With tools like Howspace and Whereby paving the way for the future of collaboration, we can’t wait to see Ilkka’s dreams become reality.