Vision Systems in one of Australia’s most successful innovative technical companies. While they remain on the leading edge of many industry developments they realized the value in hiring an outside contractor (me) to bring a fresh and rigorous approach to their new product development schedule.

You do not need to be as big as Vision Systems to take advantage of my work, you just need to have a problem that needs solving. Research may provide you with the answers. The following details some of the work that I provided this international company while other aspects of this role are shown in the product management section of this site. 


HISTORY: Vision Systems (a division of VESDA) is a leading edge high technology group. I was brought in on contract to the Smoke Detection department. This department’s systems are so high-end that they had 80% market share of the ultra high end of systems. Some of the more unique mission critical places they are used are: The Louvre Museum (France), medical clean rooms and integrated circuit manufacturing plants.

MISSION: My role was to create the specifications (business plan and marketing plan) for a brand new product, a duct detector. This component was one of the last pieces of the puzzle that they needed to complete their award winning smoke detection system.

ACTION: I was employed because of my electronic engineering background, my marketing qualifications, and my recent work in a market research agency. Having no previous experience with smoke detectors I was required to quickly come to terms with the generic features of competitor units, understand the technology, formulate a market research proposal to gain the information needed to feed into the development plans.

I performed detailed secondary research on competitor products using available data on Australian and international websites. The main research involved creating and administering survey questions for a one hour in-depth interviews with nearly thirty leading fire industry experts in Melbourne and Sydney.


One of the most interesting components of this research was finding the balance of ‘acceptable quality’ of the units. This concept is based on the idea of giving purchasers the quality that they are willing to pay for, and understanding the difference between speculative wants and actual needs when the units are actually manufactured and sold. Using advanced market research pricing questions to ascertain the desired range for the desired sensitivity provided Vision Systems with exactly the feedback they required. Research questions  were modified for use with the US market so that US Vision Systems staff could administer the survey to their decision makers and compare results with the Australian market. 


The following graph shows the respondents Importance ratings for five of the nineteen Criteria tested for the Duct Detector

Duct Detector five selection criteria


While they were always likely to create a unit with extremely high quality and sensitivity, they now knew on a practical level in Australia, what the ‘specifiers’ and experts wanted.

The product was expected to achieve over 90% of its sales overseas and dramatically improve Vision’s overall system performance as they would no longer rely on third party products to complete their smoke detection system. This research is typical of many pieces of primary and secondary research that I have performed in that sometimes it’s a benefit to come from outside of an industry with a fresh set of eyes and knowledge of what works in other industries.