Obor Digital's Zeus

Every broadcaster has unique equipment and programming requirements, and obviously unique content. However, the engineering, IT and operations groups all share complex yet common operating challenges.

Those operating challenges include tracking and managing millions of dollars worth of equipment, determining how long that equipment will last and how much it will cost, managing the maintenance and servicing of that equipment, and providing help desk communications to the staff that uses those devices. Additionally, broadcast and IT equipment have unique complexities, including software versions, options, plug-ins, systems, and document and drawing management.

Designed specifically for broadcasters, Obor Digital's Zeus is an enterprise-wide centralized technology management system. It is a practical and intelligent fully integrated management tool that provides full control over your broadcast engineering and IT services. The system allows a facility manager to always know exactly where equipment is located, who has worked on it and its complete service history.

It also will help manage inventory and parts, determine which software versions and components are installed on any device, and how much each device is really costing you. The SNMP interface has the ability to automatically generate work requests from equipment self diagnostics, before an engineer even knows a problem exists.

The system is a powerful Web-based application that provides physical asset management, software and hardware tracking, help desk, inventory tracking, and SNMP integration.

Zeus was developed using Microsoft .NET, and SQL server. The Web application eliminates the hassle and headaches associated with traditional desktop client/server applications. The platform requires minimal client hardware. Web applications allow functions to seamlessly open up to multiple departments from locations around the world. Internet Explorer is the client.

The system was designed from the ground up to be robust, scalable and, most importantly, modifiable by the customer. The software is user-configurable; there is no need to hire an outside integrator or vendor.

It is role-based, allowing different users to have different privileges. The system's lifecycle matrix allows everything in the system to be tailored to fit the exact workflow of any facility. The user workflow is logical and intuitive. New service requests can be routed to a supervisor for assignment to an engineer, or they can go into a pool of service requests that engineers can grab. There are no complicated procedures associated with adding users. Just like any smart Web application, new users can register themselves and view the status of submitted tickets.

The fully integrated, physical asset management functions are equally strong. Broadcasters and IT professionals require more than just basic asset information; they need to know the current value and warranty information, track what components are installed, manage the installed software, track software keys, and be able to see the complete history of each asset, including labor and parts used.

The system does more than just manage assets and workflow; it also provides inventory management. A work request function allows engineers to record tasks they've performed, as well as lists parts pulled from inventory for repair. Parts are automatically decremented from inventory, and status reports are always available to be sure critical parts are always in stock.

Few broadcast purchases can show positive ROI. Using average salaries for a service requester, an engineer and an engineering supervisor, without a computer-based solution, the cost of a typical work order is $72. With Zeus, that same process costs less than $8 per work order. In addition, the system can reduce repair time by providing the engineer a knowledge base of previous work.

Obor Digital's Zeus seamlessly integrates a facility's physical assets, inventory, and work request management into a single, powerful, flexible, Web-based solution. It was designed and built by broadcasters for broadcasters. Powerful component and version controls, custom fields, a configurable lifecycle matrix, and many other user-configurable features are included.

Rob Caldwell is president of Obor Digital.