Microsoft’s Kevin Dallas leads a revolution in computing
This tech leader and his team are realizing the Internet of Things and fueling “the rise of the intelligent machine.” Applications are limited only by imagination
'The Internet of Things (IoT),” explains Microsoft’s Kevin Dallas, “represents the next revolution in computing. The PC and mobile computing era were about connecting people to people, information and business. The IoT era will connect machines to machines, people and business processes.
“Imagine a world where industrial devices, consumer appliances and cars can talk, learn and work on your behalf,” muses Dallas. “When physical objects communicate and interact with each other online, the operational efficiencies and new contextual end-user services that can be delivered are limited only by one’s imagination.”
Dallas is general manager of the IoT group at Microsoft. He reports to the EVP of the Microsoft cloud and enterprise group. “My role is to oversee the company’s strategy and development of device software and services products for IoT, offerings we call ‘Microsoft Intelligent Systems.’ We focus on key industries like automotive, retail, healthcare, industrial automation, banking, energy and smart cities.”
Microsoft IoT and intelligent systems in action
“We worked with Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, MI) to develop Sync, an intelligent system that uses voice commands, touch screens, capacitive controls and cloud services. Ford says its Sync and MyFord Touch systems are sold on seventy-nine percent of 2013 Ford vehicles,” Dallas reports.
He points to the manufacturing plants for the Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) Jeep Wrangler, where Kuka Systems Group implemented an intelligent system that automates manufacturing and connects assembly-line robots with a controller, multiple devices and applications, and back-end systems. The system controls 246 robots and produces more than 700 car bodies each day, or one every eighty-two seconds, with continuous uptime.
South Jersey Healthcare (Salem, NJ) replaced manual medication distribution processes with an intelligent system that includes an automated dispensing system from Omnicell, and cut delivery time for patient medication from two hours down to just eighteen minutes. And discount retailer Family Dollar (Matthews, NC) developed a point-of-sale (POS) solution that improved services, processes and business value.
“The scale of the opportunity is unparalleled,” Dallas believes, “with estimates ranging from ten billion to fifty billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. IoT will have an estimated economic impact of $14 trillion across many industries. This represents a significant opportunity for our customers, partners and Microsoft.”
Dallas leads a 400-person team across engineering disciplines in development centers at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, WA and Beijing, China. The team is focused on delivering an end-to-end device software and services offering for IoT that seamlessly connects intelligent devices, machines and sensors to Microsoft cloud services. These high-value cloud services enable machine-to-machine communication, machine-generated data analytics, operational intelligence applications, and new contextual end user services.
Four functions report to Dallas: program management, development, test and operations, and business management. Dallas’ team also includes business partners from Microsoft’s marketing, sales, finance, legal and human resource groups. “My direct reports have described me as a transformational leader,” says Dallas. “My philosophy of leadership centers on developing and mobilizing a compelling vision and strategy, and recruiting a world-class team to execute it.”
Dallas has spent his entire career in the computer industry. “Each of my career moves has been inspired by a desire to realize the next computing revolution,” he explains, “from microprocessors and PCs to multimedia in the PC, mobile, and now IoT. I’ve also been fortunate to work for companies like Microsoft, where one can really have the industry-level impact needed to drive change.”
Path to today’s vision
Before joining Microsoft, Dallas worked for National Semiconductor Corporation (now Texas Instruments Inc, Dallas, TX) on the 32000 series microprocessor line in Munich, Germany, Israel and Silicon Valley. His roles included microprocessor design, systems engineering and product unit management.
Before that, he worked in product management for visual computing Nvidia Corp (Santa Clara, CA). “I joined the company in its startup stage,” he says.
Since joining Microsoft in 1996, he’s served as a general manager in the Windows Phone group, and as director in the Windows Client group.
One man’s “north star” and guiding force
Dallas was born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. As a teenager he hoped to become a professional soccer player, but when he went to college and got exposure to computing, he found what he calls his “north star.” He attended Staffordshire University (Staffordshire, England) where he earned a BS in computer science.
“My father was the real guiding force early in my life. He gave me the values I still carry with me: integrity, impact, creativity, team and family,” he says. “I was also motivated at a very early age by watching footage of Winston Churchill and Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were steadfast in their visions for the future and refused to consider defeat.
“During my professional career, I have had the opportunity to work with, and get exposure to, some amazing leaders. They define the kind of leader I am today.”
Microsoft’s rich diversity initiatives
“At Microsoft we see diversity and inclusion as critical to the long-term success of the company as we serve the needs of an increasing global and diverse customer and partner base,” Dallas notes.
Dallas himself belongs to several diversity groups and programs at Microsoft including Blacks at Microsoft and Women at Microsoft. “A favorite program of mine is Microsoft University Recruiting, where Microsoft seeks out diverse new grad talent, with an emphasis on institutions that traditionally attract minorities. Our involvement includes higher education support, scholarships and our own programs around the globe.”
Next for Dallas
“I find our company’s transformation to a devices and services company truly inspiring. Job number one for me is to lead my team, and the industry, in the delivery of the device software and services required to realize the next computing revolution: the Internet of Things and the rise of the intelligent machine.”
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