Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) Members Envision the Future of Technology in Roofing on the Microsoft Campus


By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.

From automation to mixed reality and holograms, the future of technology in roofing is going to be exciting.

In their continuing effort to learn, understand and share with the industry how the latest technologies can be applied to roofing, the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) recently held an exciting Live Meetup on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington. RT3 Board member, Ken Kelly, president of Kelly Roofing leveraged his relationship with Microsoft and their partner, HCL Power Objects, to arrange the event.

Kelly Roofing has been a pioneer in leveraging technology through the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform to streamline and accelerate their business processes. Working through Power Objects, Ken has a robust system running all aspects of his business from initial lead capture on his website, all the way through estimating, proposal, ordering, installation and warranty filing. Kelly Roofing was recognized by Microsoft, winning the Modern Small or Medium Business category of the 2015 Visionary Award.

Ken opened the day by providing an overview of how Microsoft solutions work together to help him be more productive in running his business more effectively and efficiently. He is passionate about technology and explained that passion in this interview with RT3 member and Art Unlimited CEO Anna Anderson saying, “If you think about our industry, we get stuck in our own little world, we have blinders on. To be able to come [to Microsoft] see what some of the world’s best practices are and how they are leveraging tech in all industries and to be able to adopt that and bring it to our industry is super exciting.” [Contractors who want to learn more from Ken can contact him via email at]

After hearing from Ken, the group toured Microsoft’s Internet of Things (IOT) lab where they were able to see the future of how technology will be used to help keep workers safe on the jobsite. Pankaj Gupta, the general manager of the Business Innovation Group at Microsoft partner HCL, works in the lab and provided a tour and demonstration to RT3 members. Gupta showed how a hard hat was fitted with sensors that use the internet to communicate vital information to someone not on the job site. For instance, it detects if a worker were struck on the head or experienced a fall. Similar sensors are available that could be inserted into a safety vest or on a harness.

The lab also was in the process of adapting a fitness watch that can monitor and send data about a worker’s heart rate, their body temperate and blood pressure which would allow a company to understand the amount of stress being placed on that worker and when they needed to rest, rehydrate, etc. A cell phone was adapted so that it was being tracked on the floor plan of a building, which was showing on a computer monitor – anytime it moved physically, it would indicate on the screen where it was going. Imagine what knowing where a worker is on a job site would do for keeping them away from unsafe areas.

Other demonstrations included innovations that Microsoft was working on for Boeing related to crowd safety in airports. A scanner was able to look at the faces of the group and determine who was happy versus who might be angry. There were some really truly amazing innovations that RT3 members were able to see and experience.

After the demonstrations in the lab, members had the opportunity to hear presentations from Scott Dwyer, Capabilities Manager of Business Applications for Power Object. He explained the PowerPlatform that Kelly Roofing uses, starting with Dynamics 365 which them leverages the capabilities of PowerApps that allow users to create their own workflows with no development time needed. The whole process leads to powerful business intelligence that allows a company to review and refine their processes.

Scott was followed by Bill Kramer, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Director of Product Marketing, Mike Ehrenberg, Technical Fellow for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Kyle Young, Product Lead for Field Service. The Microsoft team was able to help the team understand the practical applications for contractors as well as how their product team approached development to ensure that their solutions remain modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable to a wide range of businesses.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the day, was learning how businesses can use mixed reality through the company’s HoloLens product which will be a game changer for field service. The team shared a video that demonstrated how a tech in the field was able to use the HoloLens, a self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.  This video (at the 48:48 mark) starts with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 system sales order and walks you through the company’s Power Business Intelligence dashboard that pushes a notification to a field technician to install the lights. The tech uses the HoloLens (at the 56:40 mark) and was able to replace the light on the Polaris ATV with remote assistance from a Polaris specialist in the hologram being able to see everything he was seeing and providing instruction from offsite.

Committed to learning and disseminating information into the roofing industry, RT3 members wrapped up their day by breaking into roundtable to discuss what they learned and determine how these solutions can help within the industry. They are also working with the team at Microsoft to develop a video to show exactly how mixed reality can be used in the roofing industry.

Learn more about RT3 or sign up to become a member at

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