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Large group WebRTC meetings require managing CPU usage

In this roundup of UC blogs, analysts discuss how to address CPU challenges with large group WebRTC meetings, lessons learned from remote collaboration and changing business models.

Video conferencing usage has skyrocketed during the pandemic as employees working from home need new ways to collaborate. Some of these calls may be facilitated with Web Real-Time Communication, or WebRTC, technology and can include large groups with more than 20 participants.

But large group WebRTC meetings are challenging because the technology requires a lot of CPU usage, which can affect call quality, analyst Tsahi Levent-Levi wrote in a recent blog.

WebRTC can be a CPU hog for several reasons, he wrote. First, encoding and decoding high-definition video streams require many hardware resources. Consequently, a large number of high-definition participants can strain CPU usage.

Hardware acceleration, which offloads processes from CPUs to specialized hardware, like GPUs, to optimize calls, isn't always available. Some devices, such as certain mobile devices, and codecs like H.264 and VP9 don't have wide support of hardware acceleration for large WebRTC calls, Levent-Levi wrote.

However, organizations can address CPU challenges for large group WebRTC meetings. One method is through simulcast, where the WebRTC client encodes the video stream in different resolutions and bitrates and then delivers the appropriate stream to users based on factors such as available bandwidth and the device they're using. This can lower CPU usage for a better-quality experience, Levent-Levi wrote.

Learn more about Levent-Levi's methods to improve WebRTC performance for large group calls.

Lessons learned from remote collaboration

Organizations can learn a lot from their experiences with remote work at a large scale. CIMI Corporation President Tom Nolle wrote in a blog recently about the lessons five companies have learned from using video conferencing to support remote work during the pandemic.

The first lesson is how dependent businesses are on face-to-face interactions. Companies told Nolle that they thought conducting business over video would hamper productivity. But, instead, they experienced the opposite outcome.

Companies were able to save 38% of their time compared to traditional ways of working, Nolle wrote. They were able to meet with customers sooner and reduce the response time for customer meeting requests from a day and a half to three hours.

Companies also found that providing material to review and work with during collaboration improved productivity and how people viewed their meetings. Additionally, meetings were shorter, and people retained information better, he wrote.

Traditionally, working from home carried a stigma that employees wouldn't work as hard because they were at home and not in the office. But the introduction of video to business workflows has proven employees can be productive within a home office setting, he wrote.

Read more about what Nolle said businesses still need to learn about remote work.

Reevaluating business models post-pandemic

Organizations have been forced to rethink their business models as the pandemic continues to affect how and where employees and customers conduct their business. For many, digitization of business assets and processes may be the answer, Aragon Research analyst Betsy Burton wrote.

By 2023, Aragon said 65% of businesses in the U.S., Europe and Asia will support new customer-facing digital business models. Remote work will also become the new normal for many organizations.

"We believe many organizations will continue to support an increased number of jobs working remotely as an integral part of their business model as there are many benefits to working remotely," she wrote.

By 2022, businesses, including government organizations, will allow up to 40% of the workforce to work remotely full time and allow 70% of employees to work remotely 40% of the time, according to Aragon.

In a recent Aragon webinar, a survey of attendees found that 69% are increasing remote work for most employees or shifting to a 100% remote work model. But, for remote work to be effective, organizations must be prepared to invest in the management and technology to support employee productivity, Burton wrote.

Learn how Burton said organizations should ensure safe working environments for employees and customers.

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