Nervous system manages knowledge

Calgary-based NTG Clarity Networks Inc.’s new product is designed to mimic the functions of the human body’s nervous system by distributing information through the network to all of a company’s appendages.

The Virtual Nervous System (VNS) was designed to be a corporate communications and knowledge management system that is capable of gathering, interpreting and disseminating information to employees, customers and partners of a company. According to Ashraf Zaghloul, chairman and CEO of NTG Clarity, the information revolution began with access to data and moved toward information.

“The new thing, really, in the next little while is knowledge – how to get knowledge from all this information,” he said. “The Internet is full of information, but now how do you access this knowledge? And that’s what we basically did when we built VNS. It’s access to corporate knowledge and then communicating it to the different staff.”

Essam Zaghloul, president and chief operating officer of NTG Clarity, refers to it as a “live dynamic intranet.” VNS is capable of saving time and generating a higher level of efficiency. For example: someone wants to place an order for 1,000 modems. A call is placed to the salesperson, who then has to call around to different departments and the warehouse to see if there is sufficient stock. It takes three days to a week to get the necessary information, he said. According to Essam Zaghloul, VNS places all departments, including sales and the warehouse on the same system. The salesperson is able to check the inventory database on his own and get an answer while he’s talking to the customer.

Features for the VNS come in application modules, each having a specific function in the corporate network. The corporate information module handles all information in a company, including new hires, news and pictures of employees. The human resources module contains employee data, salaries, reviews and vacation information.

“People usually come to me and say, ‘I have a system like that. I don’t need it.’ The advantage here is this can interface with other systems and give people corporate-wide access to this information for what they need rather than having to log onto other systems,” Ashraf Zaghloul said.

According to Essam Zaghloul, the human resources module also automates the human resources process and takes out the room for error in staff management.

Other modules include invoice management, time sheet, asset management, document repository, issue tracking system, contact and sales lead, project tracking system, VNS help, search engine, portal, task management and message board.

“In this way, if someone needs to know, provided they have the right security level, what [a] person’s working on now and for the last month, it’s all there. It’s access to the whole corporate information [network]. That’s why we call it The Virtual Nervous System – it brings the whole corporation together through a nervous system that could interface and act quickly,” Ashraf Zaghloul said.

Besides working within the corporate intranet, the VNS also extends to remote users. Although it relies mainly on virtual private network (VPN) security, the VNS has its own security, as well, Ashraf Zaghloul said.

According to Margaret Tanaszi, senior analyst, financial analysis research, at International Data Corp. Canada in Toronto, the types of companies interested in information gathering and distribution systems are often global companies that need to move information around quickly.

“It depends on whether your enterprise is global and how fast you want [information] to move around, and how critical it is for the guy in Singapore to know what the guy in Oakville [Ont.] has,” Tanaszi said. “In some companies, it is important. In some others, it isn’t.”

The Virtual Nervous System is available now. Pricing is based on how many users there are on the licence: $4,800 for five users; $19,900 for 25 users; $35,800 for 50 users; $60,900 for 100 and $274,000 for 500 users. NTG Clarity Networks is on the Web at