Eleni Leppo

8 Strategies for Managing Work-Related Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to recognize the impact that work-related stress can have on our overall physical and mental health. While managing stress in the workplace can be challenging at times, implementing the right mindset and strategies can help to reduce its impact and maximize job satisfaction. In this blog post, we will share eight practical strategies for effectively dealing with work-related stress. Implement these to help you strike the right balance between your personal and professional life.

1. Prioritize Your Tasks

One of the most significant sources of work-related stress is feeling overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list. One way to combat this is to make a list and prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency. This approach allows you to focus on the most critical tasks, complete them first, and gain a sense of accomplishment. By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll feel more in control and productive, leading to a more positive work experience. Some great Microsoft tools that you can leverage for managing your tasks include Microsoft Planner, To Do, and OneNote. Watch our latest video by Adam Atwell, Cloud Solutions Architect at KiteTech to learn how you can use Microsoft Planner and To Do to streamline your daily tasks.

2. Manage your Time Effectively

Research has shown that avoiding multitasking and taking regular breaks can be helpful time-management strategies. However, there are numerous time-management techniques available, and it’s important to explore different options to find the ones that work best for you. Additionally, incorporating technology tools such as time-tracking or productivity apps can further help you manage your time more effectively and reduce your stress.

3. Set Realistic Goals

Set achievable goals for yourself that are challenging but not impossible. This can help you feel more confident in your abilities and less stressed about meeting expectations. Also, breaking down bigger tasks into smaller, more measurable steps can help you feel a sense of accomplishment and keep you energized.

4. Practice Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk can be a significant source of stress and anxiety. Practice positive self-talk and focus on your strengths and accomplishments instead of dwelling on your mistakes or shortcomings. We talk to ourselves more than anyone else, so Be Nice! Make sure to talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend.

5. Communicate

Talk to family, friends, or colleagues about how you’re feeling. Sometimes just having someone to listen and offer support can be incredibly helpful in reducing stress. There are times that work-related stress can stem from having too much on your plate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t keep it to yourself. Communicate with your manager about what you are feeling so they can help you come up with a plan of action.

6. Disconnect After Work

It’s essential to disconnect from work after you leave the office. For those working from home, this has become even more challenging as work is so accessible. Set boundaries for yourself and try to avoid continuously checking emails or taking work calls after hours. This can help you recharge and approach work with a fresh perspective the next day. Creating an end-of-day ritual such as shutting the office door and cleaning up your desk can be helpful. Another useful tip is to wrap up your day by reviewing your to-do list and prioritizing the next day’s tasks. This can provide a good sense of closure for the day and help you feel less stressed because you’ll have a clear plan in place to start the next day.

7. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a proven stress-reliever, so make sure to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Exercise helps to reduce stress by increasing endorphins, boosting confidence, and improving your overall sense of well-being. Even just a few minutes of exercise each day can make a big difference, so make sure to schedule exercise into your day to make sure it happens consistently.

8. Take Care of Yourself

Along the same line as exercise, practicing self-care is essential for managing stress. This can include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and making time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Rest allows your mind and body to recover which in turn reduces tension and improves your mental clarity. It is vital to prioritize rest and make time for activities that you enjoy and help you recharge. This can include making time for hobbies you may enjoy like reading or spending time with family and friends.


When left unchecked, work-related stress can have a significant impact on your overall well-being and job satisfaction. However, by implementing these strategies, you can reduce stress, increase productivity, and approach your work with a more positive mindset. Start incorporating these strategies into your workweek and start reaping the benefits. By doing so, you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling work life.

Eleni Leppo

Eleni Leppo

Director of Marketing
Kite Technology Group

Kite Technology Group is Highlighted by The Manifest as Baltimore’s Top Recommended IT Services Provider for 2023

IT plays an integral role in business and markets this generation. Big or small, your business will ultimately struggle if you don’t have a strong IT infrastructure that can support your operations and empower your team. Here at Kite Technology Group, we have more than three decades of experience helping SMBs across the US conquer their most daunting tech hurdles.

Today is an extremely proud moment for us because we’re here to share exciting news with all of you. During the esteemed The Manifest Company Awards, Kite Technology Group was officially spotlighted as one of Baltimore’s top recommended and reviewed IT service providers this 2023!

The Manifest AwardWe were so honored and grateful when we found out about this award. We’ve been in the industry for decades, and the feeling of seeing our clients appreciate and rave about the benefits our services provide is just amazing. We are so grateful for their partnership and the trust and confidence they have in our capabilities.

To give you a better understanding of this award, The Manifest is a Washington DC business news resource that publishes content about B2B industries, market trends, and the newest technologies. The site annually holds industry honors to praise outstanding firms that share remarkable relationships with their clients. The top 15 leaders from varying categories are determined based on the review count they’ve achieved over the past twelve months.

It goes without saying that our clients helped made this possible for us. We are so appreciative of their gracious support and willingness to share about their experience working with us. Thank you so much for the trust you’ve placed in us.

To learn more about how our Managed IT and Consulting services can help your organization achieve your objectives, please contact us to schedule a conversation! We would love the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help.

To hear what our clients have to say about what it’s like working with us, please click here to visit our Clutch Profile and read our reviews!


Adam Atwell Receives Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award

It is with great pride we announce that Adam Atwell, Cloud Solutions Architect at Kite Technology Group has been awarded as a Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 1/1/2023 – 7/1/2024. The Microsoft MVP Award is an annual award that recognizes exceptional technology community leaders worldwide who actively share their high quality, real world expertise with users and Microsoft. We are so thrilled to see Microsoft recognize and appreciate Adam’s extraordinary contributions. To view Adam’s Microsoft MVP profile, click here.

With just over 3,000 awardees worldwide, Microsoft MVPs represent a highly select group of experts. MVPs share a deep commitment to community and a willingness to help others. They represent the diversity of today’s technical communities. MVPs are present in over 90 countries, in more than 40 languages, and across numerous Microsoft technologies. MVPs share a passion for technology, a willingness to help others, and a commitment to community. These are the qualities that make MVPs exceptional community leaders. MVPs’ efforts enhance people’s lives and contribute to our industry’s success in many ways. By sharing their knowledge and experiences, and providing objective feedback, they help people solve problems and discover new capabilities every day. MVPs are technology’s best and brightest, and we are beyond excited that Adam has been welcomed in the MVP community..

To recognize the contributions they make, MVPs from around the world have the opportunity to meet Microsoft executives, network with peers, and position themselves as technical community leaders. This is accomplished through speaking engagements, one on one customer event participation and technical content development. MVPs also receive early access to technology through a variety of programs offered by Microsoft, which keeps them on the cutting edge of the software and hardware industry.

As a recipient of this year’s Microsoft MVP award, Adam joins an exceptional group of individuals from around the world who have demonstrated a willingness to reach out, share their technical expertise with others and help individuals maximize their use of technology. 

Please join us in congratulating Adam on receiving the Microsoft MVP award, as well as the additional Microsoft certifications below.


KiteTech 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

At KiteTech, we love helping people find the right technology solutions for their business.  But, we also love technology in general!  So, for the holidays we asked our staff what technology they’ve been using that would also make for a great gift.  Here’s what they recommended!  The below list includes a bit of everything, at a variety of price points, so whether you’re shopping for a loved one, or maybe looking to treat yourself, there’s something for everyone.

Anker Powercore Essential 20000

At some point, everyone finds themselves in a situation where they need a bit more power for their devices: Maybe you’re flying and need your phone to provide in-flight entertainment, on vacation taking lots of video or mobile gaming.  Whatever your use-case, Anker’s PowerCore Essential 20000 can provide the extra power you need.  Jake Weyer (Project Technician) used his Anker on a recent family vacation to charge not just his phone, but his family’s devices as well.  The Anker Powercore provides enough juice to fully charge a phone multiple times and can charge two devices simultaneously.  It can charge via USB-C, Lightning, and Micro-USB ($36.52, amazon.com)


Philips Hue Smart Light Starter Kit

Old-school lightbulbs and lightswitches are soooo last century.  The Phillips Hue Starter Kit includes the basics to get started with smart lighting, including 2-4 smart bulbs and a Hue Bridge.  The starter kit allows you to use your phone to turn lights on/off, set brightness, set color (if you have color bulbs) and control your lights away from home.  Each bulb can be independently set.  If you really want to feel like you’re living in the future, Philips Hue can integrate with smart home systems like Alexa or Google Home, to allow voice control of your lights ($69-$199, bestbuy.com)


Beats Fit Pro True Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds

Beats Fit Pro takes the audio quality Beats are known for and expands on it.  The Fit Pro provides three different listening modes: Noise Canceling when you just want to hear your audio, Transparency for when you want to hear your audio but also remain aware of your surroundings and Spatial Audio, which uses built-in sensors to adjust sound as the user moves their head, to create an immersive sound experience.  Beats Fit Pro are designed for all-day comfort coupled with six hours of battery life (24 hours with the charging case).  Beats Fit Pro works for both iOS and Android, but iOS users will further benefit from Siri integration and auto switching between devices ($179.95, amazon.com)


LG C series 65 Inch 4K Smart OLED

Dillon Fornaro (Security Engineer) swears by this award-winning TV.  The 4K OLED screen provides fantastic image quality, with excellent contrast and punchy colors, while the 120hz refresh rate also ensures this TV is up to the task for gaming.  The TV is no slouch with audio either, with Dolby Atmos support for immersive surround sound.  All this is wrapped up in an elegant, pencil-thin display ($1696.99 for the LG C2, amazon.com)


Garmin Smartwatches

(Left: Garmin Forerunner 255s Music. Right: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar)

Jimmy and Krystal Son (Project Engineer and Help Desk Team Lead, respectively) recently traded in their Fitbits for Garmin Smartwatches.  “Smartwatch” may be slightly misleading: While these watches have basic smartwatch functionality (notifications, app store, contactless payment) they are less like smartwatches and more akin to activity trackers.  Both these watches have much more basic screens than an Apple or Samsung watch (The Instinct 2 has a black and white display), and this is by design: These watches trade vivid displays for greatly increased battery life: 12 days for the 255s Music, and potentially unlimited for the Instinct 2 Solar (50 days is more reasonable).  Beyond that, both have an onboard altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer and GPS, which allows them to provide basic weather and backcountry navigation independent of a data connection.  Both watches provide heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and calorie burn, and can track a wide variety of athletic activities (Forerunner 255s Music: $400.  Instinct 2 Solar: $450, rei.com)


Logitech G733 Wireless Headset

Fun fact: If you’re speaking to one of our help desk technicians, they are likely speaking to you on a Logitech G733 Headset.  This headset quickly became popular with our techs due to it’s comfort, battery life (26 hours), convenience (wireless range of 60 feet) and audio and mic quality.  Other wireless headsets we had tried would frequently lose connectivity or the mic would pick up too much background noise; not so with the 733.  While they are great for meetings and productivity, they’re also great for gaming, so long as you’re on a PC or Playstation; sorry, Xbox fans ($119.99, bestbuy.com)


Rocketbook Core Smart Reusable Notebook

Note-taking apps like Google Keep and Apple Notes are undeniably useful.  But, sometimes nothing quite beats the tactile experience of a pen and paper.  Rocketbook seeks to bridge the gap between note apps and pen and paper, to provide the best of both worlds.  Rocketbook includes 35 or so reusable, glossy paper pages.  You take notes on these pages with an erasable pen (not proprietary).  The ink from these pens, once dry, will stay put until erased with a moistened cloth.  If you want to upload your notes, you can use the Rocketbook app to scan the note, then send it to a note-taking app, online storage or to your email ($18.99-$34, amazon.com)


Tile Slim Bluetooth Tracker

If you’re in the habit of misplacing your wallet or purse, Tile may make your life easier.  Tile Slim is a Bluetooth tracking device compatible with IOS or Android, small enough to fit into a wallet, a purse, luggage, etc.  Once the Tile is synced with the Tile app on your phone, you can use the in-app Find feature, which will cause the Tile to ring so you can find it (more to the point, whatever you’ve put the Tile in).  The Find feature also works in reverse: If you can’t find your phone, but have your Tile Slim, you can press a button on the Tile to locate your phone.  The Tile app can also be configured with alerts: If you were to leave your wallet behind at a restaurant, the app can be configured to alert you.  Tile Slim has an advertised range of 250 feet with a three year battery life, though the battery isn’t replaceable.  The more expensive Tile Pro’s batteries are replaceable.  Tile makes a variety of other trackers, including one for your keychain ($24.99, bestbuy.com)

Time to Shop!

So, there you have it!  Hopefully, our tech gift guide will ease your shopping experience and is providing you with some ideas of cool items you can add to your gift list!  Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones from all of us here at KiteTech!

Jimmy Son

Jimmy Son

Project Engineer
Kite Technology Group

Case Study: Managed IT Services for Pennsylvania Independent Insurance Agency

An independent insurance agency using Applied Epic and located in York, Pennsylvania has been working with Kite Technology Group for Managed IT Services since January 2002. Kite Technology ongoing IT Management and technical support. 

Project Details

The Client

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m one of two owners of a full-service independent insurance agency in York, Pennsylvania.

The Challenge

What challenge were you trying to address with Kite
Technology Group?

We needed a Managed IT Service provider to handle all of our IT needs.

The Approach

What was the scope of their involvement?

Kite Technology Group has provided on- and off-site IT services since January 2002. Over the years, they’ve purchased hardware and software solutions to improve our IT infrastructure. Kite Technology Group’s team has helped us implement Microsoft Teams into our phone system.  When necessary, Kite Technology Group comes on-site to execute projects. I’d estimate that they come into our office three times a year. 

How did you come to work with Kite Technology Group?

We’ve been working with Kite Technology Group for quite some time, so I’m not sure how the relationship started because I wasn’t with the company at the start of the partnership. However, I believe they had a relationship with the previous owner. I assume their geographical location and existence as one of the few insurance-based IT companies on the market influenced the decision to hire them.

What is the status of this engagement? 

We started working together in January 2002 and the engagement is ongoing. 

The Outcome 

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?  

Since Kite Technology Group provides us with weekly and monthly reports on the type and quantity of service calls and solutions they provide, I can report that all of those metrics are very good. The entire relationship with them has been fantastic. We trust them completely when it comes to IT management. 

How did Kite Technology Group perform from a project management standpoint? 

Their team has excellent project management. They use an emailbased management tool to create and track service tickets. From that management portal, their teammates can respond to our service tickets. We communicate with them through phone calls. 

What did you find most impressive about them? 

We trust Kite Technology Group. Their team is responsive to our needs and understands that we’re in a time-sensitive industry and do their best to respond to us promptly and efficiently. 

Are there any areas they could improve? 

There is nothing for them to improve.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

It’s important to give Kite Technology Group the time to learn about your business — meet with them and give them the opportunity to win your business. 

Summary of Project Feedback

Clutch Client Rating

“The entire relationship with them has been fantastic. We trust them completely when it comes to IT management.”

 To check out the live review on Clutch click here. If you are currently working with Kite Technology and would like to leave a review on Clutch, please click here.

Interested in Learning if Kite Technology is the Right IT Partner for Your Business?

We would love the opportunity to meet with you and learn more about your organization’s objectives and goals. To schedule a conversation, please contact us and a member of our team will reach out to you. 

Strategies for Recognizing and Avoiding Phishing Attacks

To understand how to best recognize and avoid phishing attacks, it’s helpful to first understand exactly what phishing is and why it’s a serious threat. We’ve all heard the term before, but it can be more involved than a spam email. Phishing is more of a blanket term to describe someone utilizing social engineering techniques to either trick someone into providing data which could be used to steal their information, compromise an account, or deploy malware. 

The crazy thing is, in just the first quarter of this year, over 1 million successful phishing attacks occurred and that’s why it’s so important to understand how to protect yourself against these types of threats. 

This article is adapted from the Security Awareness Training: How to Identify and Prevent Phishing Attacks, hosted by Dillon Fornaro, Security Engineer at Kite Technology. You can view the entire webinar here.

Why Phishing is a Serious Threat to You and Your Business

  1. Email accounts are commonly used to reset passwords for other websites – Many times when you’re signing up for something, be it a website or service, they require an email address, right? This is usually used to log in or reset your password in the event you forgot it or wanted to change it. If that email is compromised, anyone with access to it can reset passwords for any of your accounts and services that are using that email address.
  2. Single sign-on allows for one account to authenticate to multiple other services – With the adoption of what we call single-sign on, certain identity providers can be used to log into multiple other services. For example, you’ve probably used your gmail account or microsoft account to sign up for wesbites such as facebook or a line of business application. If that account gets compromised, than those other services are at risk
  3. Non-public information may be stored in a user’s mailbox, opening the organization to hefty fines – Employee email accounts may contain non-public information or sensitive data such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and a number of other non-public information. If that data is stolen, it could open up your organization to fines and potential lawsuits. This can cost a company thousands to millions of dollars depending on the types of data they handle. 
  4. An account compromise can cost a business hundreds of thousands of even millions of dollars – If a business is handling regulatory data, a notification of breach to their customers may be required based on state and federal law. This can put companies out of business and is extremely damaging to their reputation which is hard to recover from.
  5. Threat actors can spread malware across your system and networking resources, causing further damage than just an account compromise – Phishing is also used to push Malware across a companies’ network and systems, completely halting their everyday business which further increases the damage done.

While the list could continue as to why phishing is a serious threat, these few examples should give you a good idea on why it’s so important to take phishing seriously.

The Different Types of Phishing Attacks

Email Phishing

The most common type of phishing is through email. More than likely, you’ve received a email phishing attempt more than once in your lifetime. These emails are created to trick a user into clicking a link, opening an attachment, or some other nefarious goal to compromise the end user. The threat actor may spoof the from address to look like the email is coming from a legitimate domain when it’s actually not legitimate. These threat actors also may utilize what we call cybersquatting. A common form of cybersquatting is called typosquatting. An example of this is when someone registers a domain that looks very similar to a legitimate one to trick the user to thinking it’s safe. Think facebook.com but with an extra o in book. However, since most phishing attempts through email are sent out en masse, they usually contain grammatical errors and are easy to catch if you know what you’re looking for.

Spear phishing

While common email phishing attacks are usually sent out to thousands of people at once based on a wide variety of services, there are other types of phishing attacks that take a more targeted approach which allows for a better chance of compromise. One of them is called Spear phishing. Spear phishing takes a more meticulous approach and attempts to compromise a ‘specific’ user. The key word here being specific. The threat actor usually has some information on the employee that they’re targeting, be it their name, job titles, phone numbers, etc. All of this information is used with the goal to build legitimacy for their request, making compromise more likely. These emails usually are well-crafted from a grammatical standpoint and use words to provide a sense of urgency. These attempted attacks usually have a goal in mind rather than just compromising an account. The threat actors are usually after something specific and they can be tricky to catch.


Another more targeted approach to phishing is what we call Whaling. Whaling is type of spear phishing attack as it also takes a targeted approach with previous reconnaissance being done beforehand. However, with Whaling, the threat actor is determined to compromise a high-level executive in the company rather than just any specific employee. The targeted executives usually have access to sensitive information that most employees from the organization do not. If this type of attack is successful, the percentage that there will be additional internal compromises drastically increases. The damages from this type of compromise can be detrimental to the entire organization.


Smishing is any sort of phishing attempt sent over a text message or an SMS service. Smishing has actually become increasingly more common over the last few years. Most of you have probably received some sort of smishing attempt show up in your text messages. Common ones are messages that say your bank account has been locked out or that you need to approve a charge on your credit card. These messages usually contain links that will attempt to steal your credentials by sending you to a malicious website or stealing browser cookies to hijack an already authenticated session.


Vishing is similar to smishing but it’s conducted over the phone. Vishing attempts will usually have someone call you and pretend to be from a legitimate company like Microsoft or your bank and attempt to trick you into downloading something or giving them information. We are actually starting to see a decrease in overall vishing attempts thanks to some initiatives by the FCC. There are also new technologies being developed by phone manufacturers and wireless carriers to help catch and prevent these types of calls before they reach your phone.

Red Flags to Help You Identify and Avoid Phishing Attempts

  1. Spelling and Grammatical Errors – One of the biggest things to look out for is spelling and grammatical errors. We’ve all been there and accidently spelled something wrong or used a word out of context. But, you will usually be able to tell the difference between a small mistake and a completely botched email from a grammatical standpoint.
  2. Sense of Urgency – “I need this done right now or the payment isn’t going to go through!” “Please hurry because I have an appointment that I need to get to!” These are just a few examples of how someone may try and get you to move quickly before thinking about the request. This is why verification processes are so important, even if they make the workflow a little inefficient. All of us are busy people and it’s common for us to want to get the work done as soon as we can. This is why a sense of urgency is such a common tactic used to try and trick the end user. If something seems a bit too urgent, take a step back and think before you continue on with the conversation. 
  3. Infrequent Contact – If we aren’t in the role of onboarding a new client or user, most of the time the people we talk with on a day-to-day basis or our contacts at a specific company usually won’t change very frequently. And if they do, we are usually made aware of that role change ahead of time. There are even controls in the back-end of email protection that can notify you if you haven’t spoken to a contact before.

    That’s why it’s important to question any time you receive an email from someone who you haven’t heard from before, especially if their request seems unordinary.

  4. Unusual Requests – I’m sure we’ve all heard of the scam where someone poses as the CEO or President of a company and asks an employee to buy gift cards. While we all love to be rewarded for our hard work, this is usually considered an unusual request. Any requests for confidential information in general should raise an alert. If your company deals with payments or wire transfers, a newer approach is to request payments using cryptocurrency or asking to use a third-party payment platform such as Venmo or Paypal. These types of strange requests can be common and it’s always best to reach out to the person in question directly over the phone before moving forward. 
  5. A Generic Initial Greeting – The companies that you deal with will know your name. If an email starts off with a generic sounding greeting such as dear sir or madam, that should raise a red flag. While it’s not hard to get someone’s name to use in a phishing attempt as a lot of the time, it’s right in their email address. But, a generic greeting should make you think before moving forward or at least provide you with a sense that you need to verify further. 
  6. The From Address doesn’t match the company’s domain – This method of detecting a fraudulent email isn’t foolproof anymore because some of the spoofing technologies that are available. However, it’s a good first step if you feel a little uneasy about an email possibly being a phishing attempt and can help rule out a lot of the less sophisticated phishing attacks. If it’s coming from a domain that uses the company name, but isn’t the normal email you’re used to seeing them contact you from (think microsofttechsupport.com rather that microsoft.com or possibly a gmail account rather than a companies registered domain), it’s probably malicious. 

Do’s and Don’ts to Help You Defend Against Phishing Attacks

  1. Slow Down – Take your time when responding to an email, a phone call, or a text message. Think to yourself about the red flags BEFORE you respond, especially if your gut is telling your something is off. The faster we perform tasks, the higher chance of making a mistake. 
  2. Validate the request by calling the sender directly – It never hurts to be too cautious. If you’re communicating with someone and something feels off, give them a call. If someone is attempting to impersonate another person, I’m sure they would want to be made aware. This will also give the person being impersonated a goal to notify their own company and clients to be on the look out.
  3. Keep your information locked down: Purge your social media accounts of non public information and personally identifiable information (PII). The more data you have one someone, the easier it is to deceive them. So, go ahead and remove all of the NPI and PII that’s available on any of your social media accounts. After that, lock down your social media presence by changing your profiles to private so only accepted requests can view your account. 
  4. Keep your computer and applications up-to-date – Keeping your applications and software up-to-date is a huge deterrent for common attacks. Many phishing attempts will utilize exploits in out of date software that will only require you to click on a link or open an attachment to compromise your account. Making sure you are turning on auto-updates is crucial to protecting yourself from the latest exploits threat actors may attempt through phishing.

  5. Don’t click directly on links – If you are concerned about a link, especially a shortened URL, hover over it with your mouse to see a pop up of where it’s actually taking you. If you have a link in an email to a web page that doesn’t seem right, bring up your browser and go to the website directly. You can also copy and paste the link on the website virustotal.com which will scan it against a database of malicious URLs.

  6. Don’t blindly open attachments – If an attachment was sent to you, download the attachment first and scan it with your anti-virus software before opening it. You can also forward and submit suspicious email attachments to Microsoft or websites like virustotal.com to scan on your behalf. Or if you can, reach out to your IT provider and have them verify the attachment’s integrity.
  7. Don’t send sensitive information over email or text message – It’s always best to exchange non public information over the phone. But, we do understand that sometimes, emailing this type of information is necessary. If you must send data such as credit cards or social security numbers, be sure that it is at least encrypted and deleted afterwards just in case your account or device is compromised later on.
  8. Don’t use the same password across different websites and services – This one is crucial. We all know that it’s hard to remember all of your passwords for every single website or service out there. Try adopting a password manager into your workflow to help create strong passphrases without the need to remember them all in your head. If an account uses the same credentials as a compromised one, it’s essentially compromised as well. This would be a good time to also implement some sort of darkweb scanning to see which credentials you’ve used have been compromised. Some password managers actually have this feature built in. 

Best Practices for Safeguarding Your Business From Phishing Attacks

  1. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication – I’m sure you’ve all heard of this and are currently using it in some way shape or form. A lot of times, an end user who falls for a phishing attack will usually realize they messed up once they’ve handed over their password. That’s why implementing a form of multi-factor authentication on your accounts is crucial to protecting that password compromise from moving to an entire account compromise. 
  2. Enable Conditional Access/Geo-IP Filtering for Logins – Conditional access policies use logic to determine whether an account should be allowed to log in based on certain parameters. Those parameters can be set to things such as allowed devices, security control requirements, and even geographical locations. If you have the ability to implement conditional access policies or something similar, it will greatly help prevent an account compromise as it enforces these controls across the entire business. 

  3. Purge Your Company’s Social Presence of NPI – Remove any non-public information on company websites: It’s nice to have contact information on your website. It allows for your clients to easily find and reach out to the appropriate person for their needs. Things like email addresses, direct phone number extensions, etc. While this may be convenient from the standpoint of client communication, it also provide threat actors with easily accessible intelligence on your company and employees that can be used for a targeted approach. It’s best to have a department wide email for client contact and forward them internally to the appropriate person. 
  4. Refrain From Keeping Emails Past Regulatory Retention Requirements – Do not use mailboxes as storage – purge emails that contain non-public information: A lot of us are dealing with NPI through email communication on a daily basis. Whether it’s a users’ SSN, drivers license, credit cards, etc, mailboxes were never meant to be used as a storage account for this type of information. It’s important to implement proper retention, archiving, and purging policies to either move this information into a more secure database, or remove it altogether. 
  5. Deploy a Spam Filtering Service – It’s best to utilize some sort of spam filtering policies through a third-party or your email provider. These policies are the first line of defense at catching phishing attempts sent to your employees and should be configured to a proper standard, even if it may delay some emails in the process. 
  6. Enroll Employees in Security Awareness Training and Simulated Phishing exercises – Spam filters aren’t perfect. If your spam filter fails (which at some point, it will), your next line of defense is the recipient of that phishing email, the end user. That is why it’s crucial to keep up to date on the latest threats by enrolling users in security awareness training and simulated phishing exercises in your environment. These solutions teach strategies for avoiding phishing attacks and will teach employees how to identify and protect themselves from not just phishing, but all types of threats. 
  7. Utilize DKIM/DMARC/SPF Records – This is a more technical concept and you don’t necessarily need to understand how these technologies work. From a basic standpoint, they’re used in the back end to authenticate an email and its sender which then determines what should be done in the event it can’t be validated. Like I said, the technology behind how this works isn’t relevant. The most important aspect that I want you to take away from this concept is to make sure you’re utilizing these solutions by contacting those who are managing your email.
  8. Purchase Cyber Liability Insurance – Last but not least, cyber liability insurance. Compromised accounts can lead to an entire disruption of a business. You can be infected with malware such as ransomware which will completely lock down your organization and cost a company millions of dollars. It’s best to have the peace of mind that you are financially covered in the event this happens to you as these events can put a company out of business. 


While protecting yourself and your organization from phishing attacks is challenging, education and awareness are key. Implementing the strategies we’ve mentioned here, can go a long way in helping you recognize and therefore avoid phishing attacks. You can also check out the recorded webinar to watch the complete security awareness training.

Kite Technology is committed to helping businesses across the country with their IT and security needs. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how we can help you leverage technology for greater security and business success. 

Dillon Fornaro

Dillon Fornaro

Security Engineer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Must-Have Practices for Stronger Online Security

So far in our Digital Hygiene Series, we have focused on keeping your systems neat and orderly. However, the most important component of digital hygiene includes practices for stronger online security. A security vulnerability can quickly wipe out all the benefits of good digital hygiene. In this last article of our series, you will learn five vital practices that you can leverage to better secure your systems and accounts and protect your data and identity. 

1. Enable MFA on All Accounts 

If you only take away one thing from this entire article, make it this: MFA is the single most important security feature you need. MFA (multi-factor authentication) is a second layer of authentication you set up on your accounts so that after you supply your username and password, you supply another form of authentication. This can be a code sent to you in a text message or a push notification to your mobile device. This way, if a hacker does get their hands on your password, they are still unable to log into your account because they don’t have this second layer of authentication. Many services, like banks and insurance companies, require MFA when you establish your account. As someone who cares about your security, you should not only set up MFA on those accounts where it is required, but you should also seek out MFA on new accounts you create even when they don’t require it. 

2. Use Strong Passwords 

Simple passwords are easier to crack, so if you use passwords that are short and contain all lowercase letters, you run a high risk of having your accounts compromised. Complex passwords generally contain a combination of lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols, and adhere to a minimum number of characters. Different sources give different recommendations for minimum password length. I recommend at least 16 characters, but the longer the better. You should also avoid using words or phrases that are easy to guess, such as your initials, the current year, or your birthday. 

3. Use Unique Passwords 

In addition to making sure all your passwords are complex enough, you should also never repeat the same password on more than one account. The simple reason is that if your password is compromised once, the attacker now has access to all your accounts that use that password. Ideally, your passwords would not even be similar, like adding an exclamation point, or using the same word or phrase but using all lowercase in one password and all uppercase in another. Minor differences are still easy for an attacker to guess. 

4. Use a Password Manager 

Using passwords that are both complex enough and entirely unique from one another is a huge challenge. A password manager program, such as LastPass or RoboForm, can help tremendously. These programs allow you to store your passwords for all your different accounts so that you don’t necessarily have to remember them. Then, the password manager can input your passwords and log in to your accounts when you need them. Additionally, some password managers offer other features, like health checks that scan all your passwords and alert you on things like repeated passwords or passwords that have not been changed for a long time. Keep in mind: you MUST ensure your password manager is protected by a highly complex password as well as multi-factor authentication. 

5. Monitor the Dark Web 

The dark web is a part of the Internet that is not indexed by search engines and can generally only be accessed by special programs or browsers. The dark web is most infamous for the criminal activity that takes place there. One form of criminal activity is the resale of compromised data, which means that if your data (including passwords) somehow get breached, they may be available to bad actors on the dark web. There are services you can use to run scans on the dark web to find out if your email address or username is associated with any data breaches. Then, you should immediately change your password or take whatever measure is appropriate to secure your data. Some services can run scans for you automatically and alert you when a threat is found. If you are part of an organization, your administrator or IT provider should be running these dark web scans for you. 


Incorporating these practices will go a long way in strengthening your digital hygiene. They will serve as an important first line of defense against new and changing digital threats like malicious emails, social engineering, phishing, and more. Most data breaches are caused by human error, so it’s important to have good security practices in place and remain vigilant in order to protect ourselves as much as possible.

Could your organization benefit from a thorough review of your security practices? If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule an initial conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Considerations for Selecting a Cloud Phone System for Your Business

As a business owner, you know how critical it is to have a reliable phone system for your business. However, choosing a new system can be overwhelming because there are so many options on the market.

Transitioning from and upgrading an on-premise business phone system to a cloud phone system (VoIP) can be exactly what you need to take your operations to the next level. Given the growing remote workforce, it is more vital than ever to select a business phone system that includes a wide range of valuable calling, collaboration and mobile tools that your employees can use whether they’re in the office or working from home. However, not all cloud phone systems are created equal, and providers offer a wide variety of options and services that can confuse even the most tech-savvy of individuals.

Here we’ll cover what to consider when choosing a cloud business phone system. This guide is adapted from the Selecting Your Next Business Phone System webinar, hosted by Kite Technology—view the entire video here.

Why Get a New Cloud Phone System?

Many established organizations have had their same phone system for years. These systems are reliable and can work for a long time—maybe too long. Because the phone keeps ringing, many will take the approach of, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But our work has changed. There are three main reasons why a new phone system can help accelerate your business operations:

  • New tools require new integrations: Microsoft 365, Zoom, Google Teams, Slack, and all the other common tools used regularly in the office should be seamlessly integrated into a cloud phone system for optimal results.
  • Employees need (and want!) flexibility: The rise of remote work and offshore teams means employees need a more flexible phone system to complete their work.
  • Customer demands: Despite the importance of a phone system, calling is not all that important for many customers. They’re expecting live-chat services, texting, or other ways to connect with the company in addition to phone calls.

These factors mean that most companies need to upgrade their system to meet modern work demands.

Phone Systems 101

Before diving into what exactly to look for, let’s review the three essential pieces of a phone system. The anatomy of any phone systems is made of three parts:

  • System (PBX or Private Branch Exchange): This refers to the “brain” of the phone that allows calls to be made on the network. It can be a physical system, a hosted service (i.e., public or private cloud service), or an on-demand “as-a-service” system.
  • Endpoints: This used to be a physical handset on a desk or conference room phone, but now includes anything to receive calls. Common endpoints today include softphones that operate on Windows or Mac operating systems, and mobile apps that operate on iOS or Android.
  • Dial tone: This is what connects you to your system. Old analog technology was only available on-premises and operated as a pay-per-line system. Today we use either PRI (Primary Rate Interface) circuit or SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) as flexible connection methods.

The main reason to understand these three parts of a phone system is to know how much variety there can be between options.

Key VoIP Phone System Features

Not all cloud phone systems are made equal. They differ significantly in their features and capabilities, so you need to know what’s important for your business and team. Here are some features to consider:


Flexibility is so important in today’s modern work environment. Phone systems come in a few different formats:

  • Hot desk or hoteling gives you the ability to walk up to any physical phone in an office space, put in a code, and have it be your personal line for the day.
  • Mobile apps are the ultimate flexibility and can be installed on any mobile phone.
  • Omni channel messaging allows for different types of communications, including SMS and MMS.
  • Remote handsets allow employees to take calls without being tied to a physical phone.
  • Brower control lets you access a VoIP phone system from a web browser, which is more flexible than a specifically installed app.


With a remote or offshore team, visibility is important. Some things to think about:

  • Presence: Who’s available? Who’s on do-not-disturb? Who’s away from the phone?
  • Reporting and analytics: How many staff are available? How is the connection? How long is each call?
  • Receptionist console or switchboard: How will phone-call triage work?

One-to-many communication

Phones aren’t just single person to single person anymore. VoIP phone systems need to manage one-to-many communications such as intercom, overhead paging, call queues, and faxing.

Quality and security

High-quality and secure cloud phone systems are a must today. A few features to consider are:

  • Call recording: Here, you need to know state recording laws and may need to train people and say if they’re on a recorded channel.
  • Secure SIP: This is an encrypted channel.
  • Session border controllers: This is for a physical phone system to ensure multiple units are operating correctly.

How to Choose a New Cloud Phone System?

When choosing a new VoIP phone system, you need to think beyond a simple phone call but at a holistic communication strategy. Here’s how to choose one:

Evaluate your starting point

Know where you are starting by analyzing your current technology, processes, and channels. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What type of in-office technology do you have?e., CAT3 vs. CAT5 cabling, power over ethernet connections. Connect with your IT department to understand current capabilities.
  • What do your team members have at home to work with?
  • Who answers calls in your organization? Is your system easy to use from a client perspective?
  • What are your communication channels? Do you also use SMS, web chat, or Facebook Messenger? How do they integrate?

Determine where you need to go

After getting a really clear idea on your current capabilities and starting point, you can begin to think about where you want to go in the future. There are some trends you need to plan for:

  • Remote work: How to people interact with each other? Consider how a strong, streamlined communication system will help mitigate loneliness and trouble collaborating.
  • Office and home-office upgrades: Think about technological improvements that are needed in your physical space, including routers, cabling, Internet bandwidth, and more.
  • Security: With people at home, you’ll need to boost security by ensuring there’s a secure SIP and you’re able to report and record calls.
  • Omnichannel: This refers to the integration of multiple platforms, so that customers can access you anywhere and employees have full visibility of all communications.

Plan for a change

By now, you should know the type of system that will best suit your needs. As your implementing the change, be aware of two last barriers to adoption:

  • Pricing: Your choices may be constrained by budget. Consider if you’re going to lease or own a system, and what pricing model it’s billed as (per user/extension, per concurrent call, or in minute blocks).
  • Learning it: It’s hard to make changes, but it’s necessary. Start by identifying people who “get it” and will be champions of change. Then, implement a careful and thoughtful training program to get everyone on board. Videos and cheat sheets go a long way, too!

Choosing a new VoIP phone system is a challenging but necessary, undertaking. You can purchase a new phone system on your own, or you can use strategic IT support services to help make the best decision. Connecting with an IT partner to help you plan and implement your system is vital to a successful transition and adoption. Learn more about our Managed Cloud (VoIP) Phone Solutions today. You can also check out the recorded webinar for more in-depth details on how to choose a VoIP phone system or visit our YouTube channel to check out our other helpful videos.

Kite Technology is committed to helping businesses across the country with their IT needs. Contact us to learn more about what we do and how we can help you leverage technology for greater business success. 

Digital Hygiene Series: Tidying Up Your Mobile Devices

Digital hygiene doesn’t just apply to your computer. It’s also important for your mobile devices. In this fourth article of our Digital Hygiene series, we share 5 strategies for tidying up your laptops, cell phones, and tablets. Applying these strategies will go a long way in helping you get the most from your mobile devices and help you be more efficient on the go.

1. Delete Unused Apps 

Just as it is best to keep unused applications off your computer, it follows that you should do the same with your mobile device. It is common to install apps to solve a short-term problem, and if left unchecked, apps like this can be forgotten, taking up storage and maybe even processing power on your phone. As soon as you know you will no longer need a particular app, uninstall it and remove all associated data if you will never need it again. You can also regularly audit your installed apps and remove any that you don’t need. Most mobile devices have an automated process you can enable to identify and even uninstall applications you no longer use. 

2. Organize Home Screen 

Your home screen should be set up deliberately to give you quick access to all your most frequent functions, and should be organized in a simplistic layout so it is easy to navigate. You can arrange apps into categories and use app folders to contain related apps. Ideally, you want to create enough different categories so that your apps are distributed across them, but not so many categories that you end up with categories containing only one or two apps. This is subjective, but generally you know when your app folders are serving you well and when they aren’t. Another great tool for an organized home screen is widgets. A widget is a bite-sized components of your apps you can put directly on your home screen. Examples include a preview of your calendar or today’s forecast from your favorite weather app. If you have found a home screen organization that works well for you, do your best to always keep it that way by putting apps into the proper folders, placing your most common functions close to the home screen, and making good use of widgets. 

3. Storage Consumption 

Eliminating unused apps is a good start at managing your storage, but that is just a small piece among more important kinds of data, such as multimedia and old messages. In the storage settings of your mobile device, you can view your used storage and a breakdown of what kinds of data comprises that used storage. You should be aware of how much data your device can store and how much you are currently using so you don’t run into issues from your device filling up. Photos, videos, and music commonly take up the most space, so it is important to learn about the streaming options you have available in your photos and music apps. When set up properly, these features manage the amount of storage you are using on your local device by moving most of your data to the cloud. You should audit your storage often to make sure you stay ahead of issues before they happen. 

4. Enable Cloud Backup 

Offloading your multimedia as I just discussed is one form of backup, but it is also important that you are running system backups so you don’t lose other kinds of data like contacts, text messages, stored files, and apps. You can set up your backup preferences in your device’s settings to ensure they are happening frequently and reliably. These backups should be running to a cloud service so that if you lose, damage, or otherwise replace your device, you can pick up right where you left off on the new device. Keep in mind, like the data itself, backups take up storage. While it is not a common issue, it is important to avoid running out of capacity in your cloud service to store system backups. 

5. Be Intentional About Contact/Calendar Sync 

Ever since we have been able to set up multiple different email accounts on our mobile devices, the ability to sync contacts and calendars has been a huge benefit but can also be a huge risk if it is not done properly. I have seen many people with a mess on their hands from a contact list that has taken years or decades to amass and has suddenly become inundated with extraneous or duplicate records, or else has been completely overwritten or cleared. With the proper backups in place, these issues are typically reversible, but not without a painful crash course in the ins and outs of calendar and contact sync. You can choose to keep separate contacts and calendars in your separate accounts, and you can certainly combine them and work off only one list. Whichever method you choose, be sure that the proper default account is selected (in your device’s settings) so that new records you create will go to the right place. The confusion here typically happens when concepts like separate accounts and default account are not well understood, so educate yourself on where your contacts and calendars live, and don’t be afraid to consult an expert if you need help. 


As more and more work is done remotely, following these strategies will enable your mobile devices to perform better and help you stay more organized. Keep in mind that if you or your employees are using your personal mobile devices to conduct work, there are crucial security practices that need to be implemented to keep your business and personal data secure. To learn more about this and our Managed IT and Security Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

 Digital Hygiene Series:
Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Microsoft Basic Authentication Deprecation – What This Means For You

Authenticate: au-then-tic-cate; /ôˈTHen(t)əˌkāt/ – a computer user or process having one’s identity verified.   

Why Basic Authentication is Being Retired 

Nearly 3 years ago, Microsoft indicated they would be firming up their stance on security by looking to sunset Basic Authentication and fully head towards a Zero Trust model.  Basic Authentication has been around for years and has been used by many client applications to authenticate with servers, services, and endpoints.  Easy to set up and usually enabled by default, Basic Authentication means the application sends a username and password with every request, which is also often stored or saved on the device.   

However, its simplicity is its downfall.   

When using Basic Authentication, and attempting to authenticate with a server, Threat Actors armed with today’s tools and methods can easily capture this information (especially when it is not protected behind encryption methods like TLS).  This increases the likelihood of reusing the obtained credentials across other endpoints or services which would enable them to gain access to more of your data.  

How Modern Authentication Works

Today there are better, more effective ways to authenticate with your servers, services, and endpoints.  Modern Authentication uses several entirely different industry-standard protocols along with security tokens that administrators use to approve or revoke access to resources.  Modern Authentication allows for multi-factor authentication (MFA), smart cards, certificate-based authentication (CBA), and other third-party identity providers, like Duo. 

Impact on Users

What does this mean for you, and will you be impacted?  With your personal devices you use to access your work email, it is hard to say.  If you are using an older mobile device access that does not have a currently supported operating system, you may be impacted.  However, the best way to avoid any interruption would be to download and use the Microsoft Outlook for iOS and Android application.  The Outlook mobile application supports Modern Authentication and is our preferred way to have you access your email. 

Impact on Your Business

As far as any impact to your business? Shortly after the initial announcement, Microsoft disabled Basic Authentication on any newly created tenant. For any existing tenants, they’ve disabled where they could with minimal impact. But now, the pressure to change has increased, and they are relying on their partners (that’s us) to change as much as we can. For the most recent announcement, Microsoft has stated that any processes actively using SMTP AUTH (a type of Basic Authentication) will remain in place and not impacted. This is largely in part due to many businesses having older multifunction printers and copiers which do not support Modern Authentication when sending scans by email or across a network. 

While Microsoft was nice to spare the removal of SMTP AUTH at this time, we would not be surprised if it goes away in the future as Microsoft presses forward towards Zero Trust. If you have not had the conversations with your copier vendors about updating your devices, today is a good day to start the conversation. Newer multifunction devices support Modern Authentication which allows for scanning to places like OneDrive and SharePoint.

How KiteTech Can Help

Kite Tech has been auditing all our tenants behind the scenes and minimizing any impact this may have.  Thank you for your continued faith in us and working with us to keep your environment safe and secure.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your Client Experience Manager or email the Help Desk support line. As always we are here to help you navigate the ever-changing world of technology we live in. 

If you’re not currently working with Kite Technology and would like to learn more about our Managed IT Services, please contact us to schedule a conversation. We would love the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help you achieve your goals. 

Chip Seelig

Chip Seelig

Director of Service Management
Kite Technology Group

Case Study: Managed IT Services for California Independent Insurance Agency

An independent insurance agency using AMS360 and located in San Fransisco, California hired Kite Technology Group for managed IT services. They handle the server, provide support, and modernize security procedures.  Currently, they’re migrating the system to Microsoft 365.

Project Details

The Client

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the Operations and Marketing Manager at an independent insurance agency in San Fransisco, California.

The Challenge

What challenge were you trying to address with Kite
Technology Group?

We needed a new managed IT service partner to handle our IT needs because our previous provider wasn’t performing as they should have been.

The Approach

What was the scope of their involvement?

Kite Technology Group is our IT managed service provider. They manage our server, provide day-to-day technical support for our computers, and modernize our security procedures and setups. First, they completed a network assessment, analyzing where we were; they poked around the server and asked questions. From there, they developed a comprehensive outline of our system’s status and created an action plan with items in red, yellow, and green according to urgency. They shipped new equipment to us, and then one of their teammates flew in to install it. The team has also upgraded our firewall and made other necessary security upgrades. 

They work with Vertafore, which is our agency management system. The team has also helped with our new phone system. Kite Technology Group has completed all critical items, and they’re currently migrating us to Microsoft 365. The goal is for us not to rely on the physical server and be able to access everything needed for day-to-day business through Microsoft 365 directly.

What is the team composition?

We’ve worked with at least five different people from Kite Technology Group. In the beginning, I worked with the VP of Business Development and their CSO did our network assessment. Since then, we’ve worked with a project engineer, a client experience manager and a security engineer. We’ve also been in contact with different day-to-day tech support representatives.

How did you come to work with Kite Technology Group?

I discovered them on NetVU, which is a community of Vertafore users. I interviewed several vendors both local and around the country. Kite Technology Group was the provider I felt most comfortable with and the best match.

What is the status of this engagement? 

We started working together in January 2022 and the engagement is ongoing. 

The Outcome 

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?  

Everyone in our company has been so much happier since we started working with Kite Technology Group. Our previous provider wasn’t giving us adequate support; we’d go around in circles with them and their techs weren’t the most knowledgeable. That engagement got to the point where I stopped reaching out for support, and I was wasting time researching how to fix issues on my own. Meanwhile, Kite Technology Group is capable, helpful, and knowledgeable. Our office has daily conversations about how much we love their service.  The team resolves issues quickly once we submit a ticket. Although we don’t have the exact data showing how much time we save, office morale has improved; we no longer dread reaching out for support when there’s an issue. 

Kite Technology Group has also improved our efficiency, and we don’t have potential security issues like before. They give us peace of mind because we’re confident in their ability to fix things and in them as advisors. Moreover, the team is pleasant to work with; they’re positive and encouraging. I can’t say enough good things about them; I only regret that I didn’t go to them sooner. 

How did Kite Technology Group perform from a project management standpoint? 

We had a couple of initial Teams meetings with the CSO and VP of Business Development, where we went over the project’s priorities, our concerns, and availability. Then, we scheduled the day when they came down to install new equipment. Now, we primarily keep in touch through email and phone, and they always communicate well

What did you find most impressive about them? 

Sometimes during a sale, providers promise certain things that, as clients, we doubt will be the reality. Kite Technology Group has gone above and beyond all their promises in that initial sales process. They’ve been helpful and willing to fix anything. In the beginning, when we had many questions, they worked after hours to address all of them and figure things out. Overall, Kite Technology Group has been fantastic. 

Are there any areas they could improve? 

I can’t think of anything they need to do better. Of course, not everything is perfect since we’re dealing with technology. Although we’ve had some bumps in the road, we can tell that they’re trying to work on it. Besides, I blame those bumps on being behind the times due to our previous provider.

Summary of Project Feedback

Clutch Client RatingKite Technology Group’s work is fantastic; they’re knowledgeable, efficient, helpful, and encouraging, giving the client peace of mind. The team is organized and communicates effectively via email and phone calls. Moreover, they’re easy to work with, and they’ve gone above and beyond every promise.

 To check out the live review on Clutch click here. If you are currently working with Kite Technology and would like to leave a review on Clutch, please click here.



Interested in Learning if Kite Technology is the Right IT Partner for Your Business?

We would love the opportunity to meet with you and learn more about your organization’s objectives and goals. To schedule a conversation, please contact us and a member of our team will reach out to you. 

Digital Hygiene Series: Email Decluttering Tips for Greater Productivity

Email is an invaluable tool for both personal and professional communication. Still, an excessive volume of emails can accumulate in your inbox, making it difficult to manage. In the most recent article in our Digital Hygiene Series, you can learn 5 strategies for managing your email inbox like a pro. As much as we all use email today, it is well worth taking some measures to declutter your email inbox which will help you stay on top of things and have a more productive day. Here are five principles of email management to improve your digital hygiene.

Manage Inbox to Zero

It sounds like a dream, but it can be a reality, and quite a refreshing one when you can maintain it. The key here is to have a system where you immediately act upon emails as soon as you get them so you can quickly get them out of your inbox, either by moving them to subfolders or deleting them. Many emails just require a quick response, so once you respond you can get them out of your inbox. Other emails are more involved and require some action. For these, it is best to transfer the details to some other to-do system, like tasks in Outlook, Microsoft Planner, or your organization’s line-of-business application.

Unsubscribe From Unwanted Lists

Some sources report that as much as 85% of all emails are spam. Most of these emails are not harmful to your security, they are advertisements that just end up being highly annoying at best, and completely clutter your inbox at worst. Most of us just delete these emails, which certainly beats leaving them in your inbox. But the best thing to do with these is to unsubscribe from the mailing lists you don’t want. Legitimate businesses like retail and restaurants send marketing materials periodically, and they all have email preferences you can configure to send you only what you want, or send you nothing at all. Somewhere in all the marketing emails you receive, usually at the bottom, there is an “Unsubscribe” button you can use to adjust your preferences. You should do this immediately for lists you don’t want. Many of these services sign you up automatically for their mailing lists when you do things like set up an account and make a purchase, so be alert for “Opt Out” checkboxes to make sure you don’t end up on these lists in the first place.

Use Mailbox Rules

Mailbox rules can be used to automate repetitive tasks that you would otherwise do manually. One of the most common applications of mailbox rules is to automatically deliver messages from a particular sender or on a particular topic to one of your mailbox folders. It is important to make sure you don’t miss important messages, but implementing something like this can help reduce the noise in your inbox, save you the time of doing steps manually, and remove human error from your methods of organization. There are many triggers you can set up in your rules for things like categories, keywords, and attachments, and there are a wide range of actions they can perform on emails such as flagging, forwarding, and deleting. Experiment with mailbox rules to learn all they can do, and when you work on emails, always be on the lookout for new opportunities to use mailbox rules to your benefit.

Enable Email Archiving

In the second article of this series we discussed how an archiving method for your document and file storage can help separate your working data from long-term storage. The same concept applies with your email. If you have a process to archive emails once they reach a certain age or are no longer needed, the size of your working mailbox remains small, which means it is easier to search and you have less risk of hitting storage limits. You can archive emails with a manual process, but it is best to use an automated process based on age or some other criteria. If you are part of an organization, your administrator(s) should apply email archiving processes to everyone in the organization that are compliant with your company’s data compliance policies.

Master the Search Function

Even with the best of habits in organizing your mailbox, you should know how to effectively use the search function. The search function is most used for emails, but you can also search for other items like Calendar Items and Contacts. The most common search is a keyword search that just looks for the occurrence of a word or phrase, but there is also syntax you can use to find specific criteria, like email from a particular sender or in a particular thread. If you use Outlook, there are lots of resources online like to help you learn how to use the more advanced features of Search. (How to Use Outlook.com Search Operators (lifewire.com))


These are just a few of many strategies that you leverage to keep your email inbox organized. Taking the time to learn how to better manage your email inbox will go a long way in preventing it from becoming congested and overwhelming. When your email inbox is well organized, finding the messages you need can be done in a flash and with little effort. In addition to this, deleting, moving, or archiving the messages that you no longer need will help you be more productive and have time to get more done.

If you are not currently working with Kite Technology and would like to learn more about our  IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 


Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Digital Hygiene Series: Strategies for Organizing Your Digital Files

If you have any experience working with a horribly messy file cabinet room, you know how important it is to practice good hygiene when storing documents and other files. In this second article of our Digital Hygiene series, we’ll review five strategies for effective document and file storage to help you keep your digital file room clean. Taking the time to organize your digital documents and folders will go a long way in helping you be more efficient by making it much easier to find the files you need.

1. Use Cloud Storage

Using cloud storage puts your data in a place that is highly accessible to you and protected by a layer of backup. The most common services are Google, Dropbox, and KiteTech’s favorite, Microsoft’s OneDrive and Sharepoint. The important thing is not which service you are using, but that you are using one of the services, and using it properly. It is best to ensure that every single file you work with is saved on cloud storage, and that you are either using file sync or accessing the files directly in the web browser to work with them. This ensures that all your files are protected, and you avoid issues with file sync conflicts and duplicates.

2. Archive Unused Files

Data sets grow out of control if they are never cleaned out, so it is good practice to clean out unused files from your storage as soon as they become obsolete, or you don’t plan to work with them anymore. Doing this well requires regular auditing because it is easy to forget and ignore, and before you know it your useful data is buried among countless items you never even use. But archiving your data does not need to mean completely getting rid of it, it just means moving it out of the way of your useful data. Think about your data in two different buckets, your working data set which contains all the data you currently use, and your archive which is just long-term storage for files you no longer use. Keep in mind it is important to keep your archive just as well-organized as your working data set.

3. Archive Large Files

Without proper management, data storage can grow very large very quickly. To combat this, audit your files regularly for particularly large files that you don’t need. You can either use the Size fields available in your Windows Explorer or Finder window, or else use a tool like TreeSize to help you find the files and folders taking up the most space. Reducing the size of your working data set will help you reduce your download times, avoid hitting storage limits based on the service you use, or avoid paying more for storage space you don’t need.

4. Use Folder/File Naming Conventions

You want your files to be easy for you to browse. I advise using naming conventions to keep your files and folders standardized. When you are looking at a set of data that has consistency in its naming, you tend to have an easier time finding what you are looking for. Some examples of naming conventions you could use are sequential patterns (maybe you use a consistent year-month-title format), use of special characters (like hyphens or underscores for formatting), and consistent capitalization (maybe you capitalize all the letters in acronyms or abbreviations, or you use camel case for phrases like “MyFileName”). If I were employing these naming conventions when storing this article, it would be named “2022-July-DigitalHygiene.docx”. Of course, it is important to use the same naming conventions across all your files to ensure the best searchability.

5. Serialize File Names

Another way to use your file and folder names to make your data easy to navigate is to use serialization. This is when you use letters and numbers to add prefixes or suffixes to your file names so that they sort in a particular order alphabetically. This method is commonly used when many of the same kind of files are saved together and need to have distinct names. Some examples include adding a number to the end of a file name (“JulyArticle01”, “JulyArticle02”, “JulyArticle03”, etc.) or adding the date (“20220701_Article”, “20220714_Article”, “20220716_Article”, etc.). Use file name serialization in as many places as necessary in your data to make your data as easy to navigate as possible.


By following these five strategies, you’ll be more successful at keeping all your documents organized and easily accessible. To learn more about virtual organization and best practices, stay tuned for our next article in our digital hygiene series: Decluttering Your Inbox for Greater Productivity.

If you are not currently working with us and would like to learn more about Kite Technology’s IT and Consulting Services, please get in touch with us to schedule a conversation. We would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your business and how we can help. 

Digital Hygiene Series:

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Guest Blog Post: 8 Must-Haves for Creating an Amazing User Experience on Your Insurance Website

What Does Your Website Say About You?

The internet has been around for a long time, and yet some folks don’t understand just how important it is to so many facets of everyday life. In fact, for most businesses, it should be the hub of all marketing efforts. Do you know what your website says about you? Done right, it can help you make a fantastic first impression before you even talk to a prospect. The flip side of that is if it’s not done right, you can make a not-so-fantastic first impression just as easily.

Don’t believe it? Consider this: there are many ways to drive business, from email marketing to social media and print campaigns to paid advertising. And no matter your approach, most people will end up back at your website to learn more or get started. If your site looks amazing, is easy to get around, and has all the information your prospects want, they’ll stick around and, hopefully, become your next customer. If not, well, that’s another story.

Just like you wouldn’t show up to a prospect meeting in ripped jeans and a stained shirt, you can’t show up to the internet like that either.

Does Your Website Have What It Takes?

At this point, you might be thinking, “I know insurance. I don’t know what a good website needs!” The good news is that you don’t have to be a web designer to understand the types of things your clients and prospects want to see on your website. We’ve compiled a list of eight must-have features insurance agency websites need, and once your website incorporates them, they can help you focus on doing what you do best: selling insurance!

Eight Important Features Your Insurance Agency Website Needs

You want your website to stand out from the competition, attract leads, and help you service your existing clients better. Here are the eight most important must-haves your website needs to help you accomplish your goals.

1.  Impressive Design

Did you know that 74% of insurance shoppers begin their search online? Once they’re on your site, it takes less than a second for them to form an opinion about your agency. First impressions matter, so it’s vital that your website looks amazing, is designed for local SEO performance, and accurately reflects your agency.

2.  Lead Capture Forms

Every agency wants to capture as many leads as possible, and your lead generation forms are the way to do it. Keep forms short and sweet to increase your chances that prospects will actually fill them out. Using integrated landing pages, conversion-driven forms, and other calls to action to clearly communicate what you want visitors to do next is critical.

3.  Video Proposals

Video is increasingly becoming a preferred method to connect with brands and services, whether they’re an insurance shopper or not. Meet your clients and prospects where they are by recording password-protected videos to highlight policy features and explain complex concepts. Your close ratios can increase by as much as 15% through the use of video as a communication tool.

4.  Personality

What’s the one thing that sets you apart from other insurance agencies? Your team! No other agency has the terrific team you do, so show them off. Highlight your team, your location, and anything else that makes you special. Using tools that can personalize the website for visitors is a fantastic way for you to shine.

5.  Live Chat

When people have questions, they want answers immediately. Perhaps even more important, they want easy ways to talk to you. A recent study found that two-thirds of website visitors aged 18 to 49 want to be able to chat with someone live through a website, but only one-third of business owners think customers prefer to communicate that way. If you’re not embracing live chat on your website, now is the time to start!

6.  Client Service Center

You might be starting to notice a trend here, but having easy, accessible communication options on your website is where it’s at. Make it simple for your clients to report a claim, make a policy change, request a certificate or ID card, or pay a bill. You can accomplish most of this by making forms available on your website.

7.  Interactive Content

It’s easy to fill up a website with lots of words and information for your clients and prospects to read, but that can get boring pretty quickly. By utilizing tools that increase engagement, you can break through the noise and sell value, not price. You can also improve your website’s ranking on search engines (SEO) because Google and others consider the time spent on a page when factoring SEO scores, and interactive content keeps people hanging around longer.

8.  5-Star Review Capture

When prospects learn of your agency, they’re going to want to know what others think. To find out, they’re going to search for you online. Having five-star reviews on Google and Facebook provide the social proof you need to establish credibility. By capturing feedback from your best clients and encouraging them to leave reviews for you online, you can control the narrative in your favor. This is also great for improving your SEO!

Boost the User Experience on Your Website

Now that you know what your website needs to succeed, it’s time to put a plan into action. Begin by assessing which of these features your website is missing, then decide how you’ll go about adding them. One way to do that is by using an all-in-one website platform solution designed specifically for independent insurance agents.  

How ActiveAgency Can Help

The ActiveAgency platform contains innovative and proven tools like Clickable Coverage, Hello Producer, Video Proposals, and more. You can also manage your site effortlessly with ActiveAgency Dashboard, a central hub that makes it incredibly easy to use all the tools and built-in features to maximize results, see how you’re doing with team leaderboards and performance metrics, and get unlimited support from an award-winning, human-powered team.

ActiveAgency was created by Forge3, whose cost-effective digital marketing strategies have powered progressive-thinking agencies big and small since 2004. They are location-independent with team members across the United States servicing more than 1,200 clients on two continents. To learn more about Forge3 and ActiveAgency, or to schedule a demo, visit our website.

Michelle Longo

Michelle Longo

Marketing Manager
Forge3, Ltd.

Michelle Longo is the Marketing Manager at Forge3. She’s worked in the insurance industry for over 25 years, both on the agency side and in marketing roles.


*Kite Technology does not have a business affiliation with Forge3. They are the first in a series of insurance industry solutions we are spotlighting in a guest blog series. 

Getting Started with Microsoft Bookings

How many times have you double-booked yourself, forgotten about an appointment, or assigned the wrong team member to a meeting? Probably more times than you’re willing to admit! Calendar and schedule management can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to do it manually.

Microsoft Bookings is a free app that is part of the Microsoft 365 Suite. If your business pays for a Microsoft 365 subscription, it’s a free resource to help you streamline bookings and appointments for your team. Instead of manually scheduling appointments, Bookings offers a simple, streamlined option to keep track of appointments throughout the day, week, or year.

Benefits of Microsoft Bookings

With so many different calendar and scheduling apps out there, you may wonder why Bookings is worth your time. As IT professionals who are familiar with various Microsoft apps, we can easily say that there are many benefits of Bookings for your organization!

Advantages of Using Microsoft Bookings to Manage your Calendar:

  • Free Microsoft app with Microsoft 365 subscription—no need to pay for a new calendar service.
  • Easily integrates with Microsoft Teams to ensure everyone is up to date on current appointments and scheduling.
  • Option to use Bookings from desktop, mobile, or tablets.
  • Customizable based on your needs. You can adjust your appointment offerings, notifications, reminders, and other details that help both your team and clients easily manage their calendars.

If your team already uses Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft apps, incorporating Bookings into your workflow is an easy decision. It’ll streamline your process and make things simple for your team and clients.

How to Create and Customize a Bookings Calendar

Within Bookings, you can create as many calendars as you require. For example, you may create one calendar for the IT department, who offers 30-minute consultation appointments. Another calendar can then be created for the HR department, who uses the app to schedule interviews.

Let’s start by creating one calendar in the Bookings App. Follow the steps below or watch the video tutorial to create your own Bookings calendar for your organization.

Step 1: Open Bookings App

  1. Go to Office.com and sign in with your company login information.
  2. Go to “All Apps” and click Bookings.

Step 2: Create a new Bookings Calendar

  1. Open the Bookings app and click “Create a new calendar” on the home page.
  2. Input information about your company, what you offer, and the parameters of your appointment offerings. You can include information such as work hours, other colleagues to include, your services (i.e., IT support session for 30 minutes), and permissions for who can book.

Step 3: Review and Manage Your Calendar

Once you’ve made a calendar, you can book appointments, assign staff, and manage all bookings. This is what the homepage looks like.

1. Open Bookings page to manage settings and view the calendar

2. The “calendar” page shows you all the current appointments

3. The “booking page” shows you the settings and options for set up. From here you can customize:

    • Business access control.
    • Password protection.
    • Data collection and consent.
    • When people can book appointments.
    • Notifications and meeting invites.
    • Staff availability to take appointments.
    • Color and layout customization.
    • Time zone to be displayed for the person making a booking.

Step 4: Integrate Bookings with Microsoft Teams

To get the most out of MS Bookings, you’ll want to integrate it with Microsoft Teams.

  1. Go to “Apps” in MS Teams.
  2. Search for and click “Bookings” to add it to the Teams homepage.
  3. Review your Bookings schedule in Teams from two different views. From the “Schedule” view, you can see what team member has appointments and when they’re booked. The “Queue” view will give you an overview of the upcoming appointments.
  4. Review specific details of an appointment by clicking on it. It will open a window with details, where you can add notes, send an email, or text a reminder.

We always recommend spending some time playing around with the different settings and familiarizing yourself with the platform. MS Bookings is a great tool with tons of customizable options to give your team exactly what they need to stay organized and streamline their schedule and appointments.

Managed IT Services and Microsoft Consulting

If you are looking for more simple, effective, and easy to implement IT tips and tricks, make sure to follow along with us at the Kite Technology Group YouTube Channel . Our goal is to provide you with a variety of resources to help you maximize the value you get from Microsoft 365 and the technology you use.

And, if you’re looking for something more, take some time to look around our website to learn more about our Managed IT and Consulting Services. We provide strategic IT solutions to help you achieve your objectives and drive business performance.

Our proven process starts with discovering your company’s unique needs and goals, deploying best-in-class technology solutions, and continuing to delight you with proactive maintenance and on-demand help desk support. Contact us today to get started!

Adam Atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud Solutions Officer
Kite Technology Group

Understanding the Changing Cyber Liability Insurance Landscape

In 2022 and beyond, cybercrime is a growing and ever-evolving threat to your businesses. Large and small organizations alike need to prepare their systems to face this reality. In addition to securing your network and endpoints, having cyber liability insurance coverage is a must to conduct business against the background of the 100 billion dollar cybercriminal landscape.

What is cyber liability insurance?

For those of you who have not enrolled in a cyber liability insurance policy, it is an insurance plan that provides businesses with a combination of coverage options to help protect the company from data breaches and other cybersecurity issues such as ransomware, network hack, and more. It’s not a question of if your organization will suffer a breach, but when.

Understanding the changing cyber liability insurance landscape

Insurance carriers have significantly increased the underwriting requirements of coverage this year beyond what has been previously in place. Though requirements vary somewhat depending on the carrier, we know that they are all beyond what’s currently required under various statewide regulations. New policy AND existing policy renewals for cyber liability coverage will be impacted and meeting these requirements will likely include changes in process and the addition of new technology tools and management.

Additional areas of interest this year include:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication on Remote Connections such as VPN
  • Multi-Factor Authentication on all administrative accounts
  • Endpoint Detection & Response solutions for the organization
  • Full Device Encryption, and more.

These requirements use a mix of new software AND hardware tools to accomplish and are beyond many of the protections in place today. They also will potentially change how users work when outside of the office.

How your business can meet the changing cyber insurance requirements

As your organization approaches your cyber liability renewal period or is looking to increase your current plan coverage, please reach out to KiteTech and your Client Experience Manager. Our team can help navigate the current protections in place and work to deploy required tools to comply with this year’s changing checklists. 

If you’re not currently working with KiteTech and would like to learn how we can help, please send us a message at engage@kitetechgroup.com or visit our website to complete our contact form. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your business technology and security needs. For additional information and valuable security resources you can download, please visit our cyber liability landing page.

Ryan Emerick

Ryan Emerick

Client Experience Manager
Kite Technology Group

Four Gaps You Can Fill with Partner IT

Equipping your company with the right IT solution is critical to your success. For some companies, this may mean outsourcing their IT needs entirely, while others may choose an in-house approach and hire one or more employees to manage their technology needs. Like so many other aspects of business, IT strategy can be more art than science. There is no one right answer, and in fact, we have often found that there can be tremendous value in considering the best of both worlds – supplementing an internal IT team with services from a Managed IT Service Provider.

What is Partner IT?

Partner IT is what we at KiteTech call the approach to IT management that involves a combination of in-house staff and external service provider(s). This can also be referred to as Supplemental IT or Co-Managed IT. These offerings are designed to augment and support your existing internal IT staff member or team and create a partnership that drives the level and quality of technology services your business receives. Leveraging the co-managed IT approach enables your company to benefit immensely from the convenience and inside knowledge of an in-house IT team paired with the collective expertise and extensive resources available in a Managed IT Services team. 

The beauty of these offerings is that services can be customized to fit your unique business needs. Leveraging Partner IT can help you scale your business, expand your internal IT teams’ capabilities, and fill in specific gaps you currently have without the hassle of adding additional employees. In this blog post, we review four types of gaps that we have found can be filled effectively by utilizing Partner IT services in your business.

Four Gaps You Can Fill With Partner IT

1. The Time Gap

Time is the most valuable resource any of us have. Even with all the money in the world, you still could never buy a 25-hour day. With only so many waking hours each day and even fewer hours dedicated to work, it is vital to focus your energy on your most important priorities. If you are a member of an internal IT team or the sole IT director in your organization, you can probably relate to the pressure that comes with being pulled in multiple directions with competing priorities and feeling like there is never enough time to do it all. Maybe you find yourself working all day to fix broken computers and printers when you should be focusing on building systems and processes to make your team more efficient. Or maybe you are dying to interact face-to-face with your team members, fixing their issues directly, but instead, you need to spend your day alone in your office writing policies and procedures. Ask yourself – What is the value of the work you find yourself doing?

If you are constantly getting stuck putting out fires or working on items on the bottom of your priority list, you may never find the time to work on more strategic tasks and projects. That’s where leveraging Partner IT can help. Partner IT can handle tasks like end-user support, back-end monitoring, maintenance, and updates giving you the bandwidth to focus on more important things. Rather than keep trying to outrun the treadmill, leverage the extra resources that come with Partner IT to offload the work distracting you from your most valuable priorities.

2. The IT Tools Gap

Like a skilled construction worker, you are only as powerful as the tools you bring to the job. You may have decades of experience building houses; you may even be world-renowned for your work, but if you left your power tools at home and only brought a screwdriver, all the experience and talent in the world won’t save you from wasting your whole day not getting much done.

As you probably already know, the right tools for IT management can get expensive quickly. However, partnering with a Managed IT Service Provider gives you access to best-in-class tools and resources bundled right in with the services provided. For instance, management tools like remote control and ticketing to endpoint software like anti-virus and automation can all be included in your services. You will not only save on the cost but also on the time you would spend maintaining the tools as your IT Partner does the maintenance for you. What’s more, you won’t need to deal with several different vendors, managing separate contracts and paying separate bills. You only manage the relationship with the Partner IT provider.

3. The IT Expertise Gap

Technology changes so rapidly that no one person can claim to know it all. With enough direct experience and enough appetite for learning, you can certainly become an expert on your company’s technology stack, but keeping up with all the new developments and emerging technologies is challenging.

There is profound power in numbers when it comes to learning and sharing knowledge. With Partner IT, you are backed by an entire team of IT professionals with a vast array of roles, skills, and specialties. For example, our KiteTech team members stay tuned to current IT and security trends and best practices and consistently share information across and outside our organization. Having access to the collective knowledge and expertise that comes with partnering with an IT Service Provider can be a game-changer when planning strategic initiatives or deploying new technology in your business.

4. The Coverage Gap

We’ve seen it countless times. When you’re the only IT person in the business or a small IT team in a large company, your services and skills are heavily relied upon for every issue that comes up day after day. When you are absent, or a team member takes off, your company suffers, and you feel responsible. The result is a crushing sense of personal pressure that is overwhelming and, in our opinion, unfair.

With Partner IT, you can have an entire team backing you up and filling in for you when needed. Having an IT partner you can rely on creates a solid layer of redundancy that allows you to take a step back and completely relieve the stress associated with taking time off. With the right partnership, you can do your job every day while preparing your partner team to fill in for you when and how you need it. You deserve to take a vacation too, and you shouldn’t have to suffer from the guilt of the void you leave behind.

We haven’t even mentioned sick days, which can have the same effect, and are obviously much less in your control. The last thing you want is to be stressed about work when you are trying to recover.

Is Partner IT Right for your Business?

Each business is unique, and your approach to IT should be tailored to meet your organization’s specific current and future needs. Partner IT is a powerful strategy that can position a team of experts behind your internal team to understand your challenges, provide valuable guidance, and fill gaps like the ones we’ve discussed here. If your internal IT team is overextended and could benefit from additional support, it consider whether it’s time to supplement your internal team with a Partner IT service. 

Kite Technology's Partner IT Services

Kite Technology’s Partner IT services give your organization the ability to decide which services to keep in-house and which would be better suited for outsourcing to us. The idea is to create a partnership where Kite Technology can support, empower, and supplement your existing IT team so they can be more successful. To learn more about Kite Technology’s Partner IT solution or any of our other services, please reach out to schedule a conversation. We would love the opportunity to learn more about your technology needs and see how we can help you meet your business objectives.

Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

Chief Operating Officer
Kite Technology Group

Top 4 Technology Trends for Insurance Agencies in 2022

As we kick off 2022, I have observed that two realities appear truer than ever. First, the years are moving way too fast. And second, technology is moving even faster. As the owner of a Managed IT company specializing in serving insurance agencies across the country, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the insurance technology landscape. Changes that my team and I had the privilege of guiding many agencies through. 

We have learned over the years that to stay competitive, agencies need to keep up with these changes. Here’s my list of the top four technology trends that will impact agencies in 2022 along with my thoughts on how wise agencies should leverage these changes for their success.

1. Data Security continues to be a top priority

The first job of any IT staff or partner is to protect your systems and data. Unless your data is available when you need it and protected from malicious use by others, all the functionality of your computer systems is useless. Today, an agency needs to be extra vigilant about the fundamentals of security such as: keeping their computers current with the latest security patches, managing firewalls, and educating their users on safe computing practices.  

Unfortunately, in the realm of security, what worked in 2021 isn’t enough to protect you in 2022. Between the ever-increasing number of cyber threats and the complexity of new compliance regulations, wise agencies should partner with professionals who have expertise in meeting their industry’s unique security and compliance needs. Security services should include:  

  • Regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and recommend practical solutions to address the risk.  
  • Adoption of “state of the art” identity management practices including multi-factor authentication, single sign-on, and facial recognition to make sure only authorized users gain access to their systems.  
  • Standardization of the hardware (PCs, laptops) and their configuration to better manage the security risk at the endpoints.  
  • Leveraging new and improved security capabilities available through your Microsoft 365 subscription.
  • Implementation of a Security Awareness Program to strengthen your first line of defense, your people, and to develop a culture of security. Security is everyone’s responsibility. 

Agencies should be keeping their security footprint as small and manageable as possible by eliminating unnecessary applications and components. In 2022, keeping a small security footprint means that most agencies can realistically get rid of their local servers altogether. That brings us to our second trend… 

2. The end of the local server is here! “Cloud Only” Infrastructure is now a practical reality

For the last decade, we have all heard that we needed to be “in the cloud.” The truth is that most every agency already was “in the cloud” to some extent. For many years most agencies have had cloud-based agency management systems such as Vertafore’s AMS360 or Applied’s Epic or Tam Online. Other quite common cloud services include hosted phone systems and hosted email.

However, while these cloud services were adopted as point solutions, the computer rooms in your main office with the servers, firewalls, and backup drives never went away. If for no other reason, they existed for identity management (active directory) and to house user files and company data. Sometimes they existed for the occasional application that was not yet moved to the cloud, such as QuickBooks. In 2022, well-tested solutions exist to economically address ALL these circumstances. You are likely already paying for a Microsoft 365 subscription that can address identity management through a component known as Azure AD. Likewise, user files and company data can be easily migrated to OneDrive and SharePoint, respectively by using features that are already part of your Microsoft 365 subscription. And even that local QuickBooks installation can be replaced by a more feature-rich and intuitive QuickBooks Online version. Once you “cut the cord” from local infrastructure you can reclaim the server room space, eliminate cybersecurity components such as firewalls, and stop concerning yourself with the physical security of a room that no longer houses all your data. And you are one step closer to providing the exact same experience to your employees whether they are working from the office, at home, or in Tahiti.

3. Endpoint Management is becoming more complicated AND more crucial

Long gone are the days when a PC sat under each desk in your office and those desks were the ONLY place that work got done. Employees expect to be able to work from their homes, the coffee shop, or their cars just as easily as they can work from the office. And they expect to be able to move seamlessly from one of those environments to the next and pick up right where they left off.  

As an employer, you want to provide this capability to keep your employees productive and happy. This is especially crucial in a tight labor market where work-from-home means you, and your competitors, can hire employees from across the country just as easily as you can hire them from across the street. In this market, employees expect more options to provide both comfort and productivity. These include laptops, wireless headsets, and multiple monitors. The employer who accommodates these desires has a leg up on hiring and retaining the most marketable employees. 

But there are complexities to all this employee flexibility. First, how do you maintain system and data security when data is accessed by a variety of endpoints all over the place? Secondly, how do you manage the endpoints and their consistent configuration when they are in many separate locations? Finally, how do you accomplish all this without duplicating the cost for infrastructure at the office, in the home, and on the move? 

There is not a single, simple answer for balancing the competing interests of employee mobility and security in a cost-effective manner. For some agencies, old style VPNs may be sufficient. Others may find it best to provide employees with laptops that travel from the office to home and anywhere in between. Some may find that the investment in “virtual desktops” (VDI) finally makes sense for their business. The most competent IT partners should be able to clearly explain the tradeoffs of these various solutions to help you make the best decision for your agency. 

4. Agency Management Systems welcoming enhancements through third-party add ons

Last August, Applied Systems made a welcome announcement at its annual AppliedNet conference. Applied announced a move to an “open architecture” that will simplify the ability for third party application developers to connect their applications to Applied Epic. Vertafore has also touted an open architecture to permit third parties to connect their applications to AMS360 and Sagitta. “Open architecture” refers to a clear and well documented application programming interface (API, for short) that permits application developers to access the common functions and data of the agency management system. By committing to an open architecture, both Applied and Vertafore are effectively inviting entrepreneurial application developers to enhance the value of their agency management systems through add-ons that more seamlessly integrate with their flagship products. 

This will provide agencies with more choices than ever when it comes to client portals, CRM/Sales systems, real-time market data, and data analytics/reporting. Of course, Applied, Vertafore, and other agency management system providers will continue to provide and enhance their add-on products. For example, in the client portal space, add-ons such as Applied’s CSR24 and Vertafore’s InsurLink will continue to compete for your business. But more choices will drive innovation and improved quality for client self-service. Likewise, expect new entries to improve options for CRM, real-time market data, and data analytics.

The most progressive agencies are going beyond deployment of the Agency Management System “basics,” and seeing real value in deploying add-ons, that drive sales, improve the customer experience, and help make their employees more productive.

These are the top 4 of many impactful trends we are seeing in the insurance technology space. The pace of change impacting insurance agencies is dizzying. Navigating these changes can be overwhelming for any agency irrespective of the number of employees or IT staff you employ. Kite Technology is here to help. Whether you are looking for a technology partner to manage all aspects of your network, improve utilization of your agency management system, or deploy components of Microsoft 365, we can help you meet your business objectives. Reach out to schedule a conversation and together, let’s make 2022 your best year yet!

Greg DiDio

Greg DiDio

Kite Technology Group

Quick Tip for Improving Your Computer’s Performance

Over time, we install a lot of software applications on our computers and many of these applications are specifically coded to automatically start after every reboot and run silently in the background. They consume a lot of system resources and can affect our computers’ performance over time. 

In this video, Krystal Son, Escalation Team Lead at Kite Technology shows you how to see which software applications are configured to run in the background and how to disable them from starting unless you specifically want to open the application. By taking a few minutes to look over the list and turn some of them off, you can squeeze more performance out of your computer.

Here are the steps for disabling applications from running in the background:

On your computer, you’re going to right click the Windows Start Button and select Task Manager.

Once this window pops up, make sure you select the Startup Tab.

Here is where you can see all the applications on your computer that are configured to automatically restart and run in the background every time your computer is rebooted.

So, you can look through the list and turn off any that you don’t need to automatically run in the background. This is not disabling them or uninstalling them from your system. It’s just telling it don’t run in the background unless I specifically call on you to open.

For example, if I turn off Adobe, it doesn’t mean that I’m uninstalling the application. I can still click on Adobe and look at PDFs anytime I want. It just means that Adobe is not going to be running in the background and consuming resources from my computer.

One important thing to note is that any file-syncing services like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive – you want to make sure you keep those on because you want your files to always be saved and uploaded to the cloud.

Additionally, if you work in an insurance agency and you see anything listed here called ASI. whatever it is, make sure you keep that enabled. Those are specific services for Applied Epic and TAM to run successfully.

Once you’ve gone through your list and cleaned that up, all you need to do to make those changes take effect is reboot your computer. Just go back down to the Start Button, select the Power Button and Restart. That’s it!

We hope you found this tip helpful! If you’re a KiteTech client and would like some help with this, please contact our Help Desk and one of our technicians can assist you. 

If you’re not currently working with KiteTech and would like to learn more about our Managed IT or Consulting Services, please reach out and we’d be happy to schedule a conversation to learn more about your technology needs.

Krystal Son

Krystal Son

Escalation Team Lead
Kite Technology Group

What to Expect with the Windows 11 Release

Windows 11 was officially announced on June 24th, confirming rumors from several different sources over the past few months and was released as of October 5th. The new operating system is available as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs, or on new hardware that ships with Windows 11 pre-loaded. Like many Windows upgrades in the past, it will be rolled out in phases. New eligible devices will get the upgrade first, and then Windows 11 will become available for more in-market devices.

What can you expect from this upcoming change? How will the upgrade impact your workflow? Can you use new features to assist you or should you be prepared to learn your operating system all over again? Kite Technology wants to help keep you informed on what you can expect from the Windows 11 update.

What is new with Windows 11?

1. Location of Start Menu and Start Button

The first thing you should notice with your brand new Windows 11 install is that your Start Menu and Start Button are no longer located on the bottom left-hand side of your screen, instead they are centered on your Taskbar. The new Start Menu attempts to clean up your program list and make it a lot easier to find the things you need. If you are signed into OneDrive on your computer, you can see what files were recently accessed, even if they weren’t accessed from your PC!

2. Layout Changes

Another small cosmetic change is that the edges of your programs are rounded instead of sharp, making your experience a little easier on your eyes. This will be useful when multiple programs are open at once. To make this easier Microsoft is introducing new Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. These features will allow you to multitask how you want, having several pages of snapped together windows and easy access to resizing buttons.

3. Desktops Feature

The new Desktops feature will allow you to have individually set-up home menus and screens for your pc, allowing you to easily switch between multiple sets of programs. Functionally, you could have a different group for every project you may be working on.

4. Microsoft Teams Accessibility

If you or your office uses Microsoft Teams, some features like chat are now instantly accessible from the Taskbar. Meaning that you can access conversations, mute and unmute, and even present to your groups with a single click!

5. New Widget and Gestures

Microsoft is also adding a new Widget and Gestures system to Windows 11. This will allow you to quickly drag a widget panel over your screen when you want to check the weather or look up how your favorite stock is doing at a glance. Microsoft is also planning 3rd party support for their widget menu, meaning you’ll have a whole host of useful widgets to choose from during your workday.

Native touch Gestures mean that for those of us with touchscreens or 2-in-1’s, it is now easy to move things around on screen and access what we need. Wake on Touch is another feature coming to your PC to help it behave a bit more like a tablet or phone, waking your computer up only after you touch the screen.

6. Support for Android Apps

The last large change we’ll be covering is that Windows 11 supports Android apps. You’ll be able to download them straight from the Microsoft store. This means you can download your favorite time-tracking or productivity app and use it natively from your desktop just like any other program.

Windows 11 is shaping up to be a feature packed update that will give you loads of new options to use your PC how you want. But Microsoft is also making sure to optimize your OS and make it faster than ever while still remaining recognizable. And while we don’t know a whole lot about it yet, Microsoft is also bumping up security for Windows 11, working hard to make sure your sensitive data is always secure.

So, how do you upgrade to Windows 11?

Now that you know a little more about what to expect with Windows 11, you’re probably wondering how to go about upgrading. Fortunately, Microsoft has made Windows 11 a free upgrade for all existing Windows 10 users.

To upgrade to Windows 11, simply open up your Update & Security tab on your system page. From there:

  • Click Windows Update
  • Next click Check for Updates
  • Once available click Download and Install
  • Give the program some time and your PC will restart with Windows 11

For any work devices managed by your internal or outsourced IT provider, you’ll want to stay in line with their policy and process for rolling out updates to your business. Before upgrading your work device, you should reach out to your IT provider and learn what their plan is for upgrading to Windows 11. For example, here at KiteTech, our default stance is to block the Windows 11 upgrade, preventing our managed users’ computers from upgrading automatically. As Windows 11 continues to gain steam in the market, KiteTech will work with our clients to develop a rollout strategy that’s appropriate for their organization.

Would you like to learn more about technology solutions that can benefit your business? Kite Technology is here to help. We are passionate about helping the organizations we work with leverage technology to improve their performance and profitability. Contact us today, to learn how our Managed IT and Technical Consulting Services can benefit your organization. 

Paving the Road to Complete Cloud Adoption

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, businesses across the country found themselves trying to replicate their office environment at home. Independent insurance agencies using Microsoft 365 had a head start. Their teams could seamlessly move from working in the office to accessing data and collaborating with colleagues at home thanks to the cloud.

When correctly designed and configured, the cloud lets users easily move between the office, home, airport, coffee shop, or wherever they’re located. It is the tool businesses need because work-from-home will be with us for the foreseeable future. Follow the 5 steps below to pave your road to complete cloud adoption and create a flexible, resilient work environment.

1. Map Out Your ‘What, When, and Where’

Before you start moving data, know what you’re going to move, when you’re going to do it, and where data will go. This is typically the order we follow with clients migrating to Microsoft cloud:

  1. Email
  2. OneDrive
  3. SharePoint
  4. Phone systems

Email is first because it’s easiest. We’ll follow up with OneDrive which is where people will store personal documents. SharePoint is next. It will function as your network shared drive and store files, folders, and other company information. Then we’ll move on to phones which we save until close to the end because they’re more nuanced.

2. Don’t Overlook Device Management and Data Security

Wrapping security around cloud systems presents challenges you don’t find with 100% on-premise systems. Suddenly nebulous things like “where” you log in from are part of your identity and your WiFi connection or IP address become data points you can use to identify security threats.

For instance, if the IP address constantly changes because an employee frequently travels, it won’t be flagged as a potential threat. But, if an employee who always works from home suddenly appears to log in from the other side of the country or shows an IP address in New York and 30 minutes later registers a different one in California, the system throws up a red flag, and you can quickly investigate and resolve the issue.

Ways to protect your business through device management

  • Continually track where a device is, what it’s doing, and its health
  • Provide remote assistance to employees experiencing IT issues
  • Wipe data off compromised devices
  • Prevent information from being shared with people outside your organization

3. Have a Plan for Legacy and Line-of-Business Applications

Before you start migrating, figure out what hardware and software you can’t instantly move to the cloud. TAM LAN, QuickBooks, and phone systems typically require additional planning if you want to access the systems through the cloud. Investigate your hardware and legacy applications. There’s almost always a way to get a server-based product to the cloud, but don’t automatically make that course of action your plan. Instead, ask if it’s time to consider a new solution, like VoIP instead of on-premise phones, or an Agency Management System that’s “cloud native.”

4. Know Cloud Adoption is a Journey

As you move to the cloud, shift your mindset too. In the past, you paid a one-time upfront cost for technology. With the cloud, you pay a per user, per month price. The systems you rely on will be continually updated because vendors are constantly innovating. New tools, strategies, and features are regularly released to enhance user experience and improve security. The cloud isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.

Make it your goal to use what you pay for

The biggest mistake we continually see insurance agencies make is not taking advantage of new features. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, many early adopters of Microsoft 365 have been reluctant to test Teams, even though it’s built into their monthly subscription. Now they’re realizing the advantages the platform has and unlocking a new, more productive way of working.

Here are 3 ways your agency can leverage Teams right now:

  1. Stay connected to remote employees through chat
  2. Securely conduct client meetings using video conferencing
  3. Create channels to collaborate on documents and policies in real-time

Regularly educate yourself and your team on what’s available and adopt new technologies to maximize your return on investment. Your subscription gives you access to the vendor’s research and development team, use it.

5. Work with an IT Adviser to Understand Costs

What the cloud will cost varies wildly based on factors unique to your agency, like what level of security you need, your backup and disaster recovery needs, and which applications you use. What you pay depends on who you work with too. Microsoft licensing can be complex, and changes frequently. Work with an IT expert who will show you which licensing agreement your agency needs and ways you can save money such as bundling services.

Let us be your IT advocate

When we work on cloud migrations for clients, we continually act as their IT advocate, offering strategic Microsoft consulting and updates about new releases. Contact us today for a free consultation and discover how to get your money’s worth from the cloud: 855-290-5483.

So, Your Agency Has Mastered Working From Home…Now What?

Like everyone else, we here at KiteTech have experienced swift and unprecedented changes in our lives. In mid-March we emptied our offices and headed home as a reasonable precaution against the spreading pandemic.

Unlike everyone else, our workload immediately surged. At the same time that our employees moved back home, we responded to well over 1000 requests to set up agency employees to do the same. Our employees rose to the challenge and agency clients were thrilled with our efforts. It was hugely fulfilling to help clients in their time of need get set up to work from home.  Our teammates took great pride in serving clients during a crisis, knowing that the precise skills they possessed were in great demand.

Our success didn’t happen by accident. It was the result of preparation. We already had tools and processes in place to work from home. The phone systems, email, and critical applications were just as easily accessible from home as they are from the office. And we already used collaboration tools such as SharePoint and Teams extensively. We needed these to connect staff that work closely together, but live in different parts of the country. We were holding team meetings by video conference well before Zoom became a household name.

In a strange way, this pandemic has leveled the playing field. It’s no longer a competitive advantage to be able to function from home. EVERYBODY knows how to do it now, because it has been a matter of survival to conduct business, educate our children, and gather with our friends.

As a leader, my thoughts have shifted to what comes next. What are the long-term implications of this new reality to our company? How should we respond to mitigate the downside risks and take advantage of the opportunities presented? Here are three broad lines of inquiry our leadership is exploring. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest your agency leadership start considering the same.

1. What is the long-term impact to our culture, and our performance, if our staff continue working from home?

In the short run, we have demonstrated that we can operate just fine from home. But the long-term impact is an open question. Will our culture suffer? What can we do to mitigate that? How will employee attitudes shift in regard to working from an office versus working from home? What will be the impact on performance (and performance management) if employees continue to work from home? How is it going to affect hiring, compensation, and employee retention if we (and our competitors) can hire those who are across the country as easily as we can hire those who are across the street?

As an agency leader, I recommend starting the conversation with employees to understand their attitudes toward these changes. I would also continue the conversation with peers and seek input from experts to understand how all this might shake out. It may be too early to reach definitive conclusions about some of these questions, but it’s not too early to start considering the implications.

2. How is our business model affected by changing attitudes and behaviors of customers and prospects?

Our company has essentially two target markets: independent insurance agencies across the country and various small and mid-sized businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region. For our local/regional practice, we are concerned that increased customer willingness to do business “virtually” rather than face-to-face may introduce more competitors from other geographies. Conversely, this same phenomenon creates greater opportunities to work with insurance agencies throughout the country who may now be more open to working with a provider that is not local.

As an agency, whether you target a specific geography or specific industries, this phenomenon will affect you differently. Are you prepared for the impact? Are you shifting your focus to take advantage of the opportunities?

3. What have we learned about the limitations of our technology that prevent or complicate our ability to serve our customers?

These last few months have given us time to reflect on technical assets on which we depend that are housed in our main office. Fortunately, the list is short and has minimal impact on our operation. But the local infrastructure still must be maintained and poses security and reliability risks that must be mitigated. Eliminating ALL local infrastructure eliminates the maintenance costs and reduces the security threat landscape.

Now is a great time for you to consider this question for your agency.  More than ever, after surviving three months with your staff likely working from home, you know precisely what constraints are keeping you tethered to your office.  Do you have a premise-based phone system? Are you dependent on operating processes that are still not yet “paperless”? Do your producers lack the tools to present quotes and close new business remotely? If any of these are true, there are technology solutions that can help you prepare for the new reality that is being hastily thrust upon you. This is one area where we can help you make wise decisions.

It’s chaotic times like now, when leadership is most necessary. Lead well.


Meet Kite Technology- Your Baltimore Based IT Team

It sounds cliché, but Jeff Kite really did start his company in his basement over 28 years ago. Nowadays, he’s surrounded by a team of over 30 professionals at his Owings Mills office just outside of Baltimore. We asked Jeff and four other team members to give us a behind-the-scenes look at their lives in and out of the office.

Jeff Kite, President and Founder


About 15 years ago, my business started to really gain traction. I realized I needed help and partnered with Greg DiDio, who is now our CEO. Greg and I decided early on we wanted to build a different kind of company, one that valued relationships. We genuinely believed, then and now, you don’t have to sacrifice people to deliver extraordinary value to clients.
Those principles that started our journey are now captured in our “Flight Plan,” a list of 26 behaviors every KiteTech employee knows and embodies. If you stroll through our office, you will notice the current week’s Flight Plan behavior displayed prominently on electronic dashboards and in flip-books at each employee’s desk.

A good example of one Flight Plan behavior I am particularly passionate about is: Lean into Client Issues. When something goes awry, people tend to pull back and hope someone else solves the problem. To combat this mindset, KiteTech cultivates a different attitude. Client problems are an opportunity for us to “Lean in,” own the issue and address it head on rather than hide and hope it goes away.

Another behavior that Greg and I strive to model is: Always Ask Why? We work hard to create an environment where our employees are comfortable challenging us. Because Greg and I encourage employees to stop in our office and ask Why?, our team members often demonstrate there is a better way to do things. We have a culture where it’s safe for anyone to disagree and we, the leaders, are open to change when presented with solid facts and a better alternative.

I’ll Skydive – Someday

My wife and I enjoy spending time outdoors snow skiing, water skiing, hiking and traveling. I’ve dreamed of skydiving for years. One day, it will happen. Until then, we keep ourselves busy with other outdoor adventures, including exploring the jungles of Belize and the volcanoes of Hawaii.

Tom Brooks, VP of Business Development – Client Experience

Tom Brooks

From our clients’ perspective, I’m the quarterback. I make sure everyone on our team is in the right position to execute the game plan. For KiteTech to be successful, it requires help desk technicians, project managers, account engineers and many others to perform flawlessly. I represent the voice of the client when there is a need, and I’m happy to step in and coordinate the plan when a problem arises. But it’s truly a team effort. For us to get the ball across the goal line on behalf of our clients, everyone on our team needs to do their part.

With advancements in technology, client meetings are often conducted virtually. Video conferences provide greater efficiency and increased meeting frequency for both the client and our staff. However, when time allows or the situation requires it, I still prefer to meet clients face-to-face, hear their plans and understand how KiteTech can partner with them to help them reach their goals. When on-site, I get to know other members of their team, see their work environment and improve my knowledge of their mission.

Lessons learned as a stay-at-home dad

For 17 years, starting in the mid-1990s, I hit “pause” on my career. While my wife excelled as a mom and rising executive, I became a stay-at-home dad to our six amazing sons. Scraped knees, piles of laundry and teachable moments were my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The discipline, multi-tasking and organizational skills I developed as a dad have served me well. Over the last 10 years, I’ve applied those same principles to serving our clients.


Dillon Fornaro, Security Engineer


At KiteTech, I’m at the forefront of applying new knowledge and tools to keep our clients safe from emerging threats. We continually update our tools and processes as the nature of the threat landscape changes. What kept us safe last year will not keep us safe this year. I need to focus on internal security too. Part of keeping our clients’ infrastructure protected is making sure our management tools are secured and our team employs standards and procedures consistent with industry best practices. We use the NIST Framework as a guide to stay ahead of the curve.

Compliance requirements are rapidly changing too. By now, our insurance agency clients are familiar with their compliance requirements under the landmark New York Department of Financial Services cybersecurity regulations. For clients in other industries, like healthcare, financial services and nonprofits, we stay on top of a genuine alphabet soup of regulations from FINRA to HIPAA to GDPR.

Educating clients on their various responsibilities under these changing regulations is a big part of my job. Maintaining a secured, compliant environment is a shared responsibility. My colleagues and I can lead the effort to secure their technology, but clients still need to have the administrative, procedural and physical controls in place to keep their systems and data safe.

Coast-to-Coast Traveler

I represent a small but growing segment of KiteTech’s team who have migrated from the Baltimore area to other parts of the country. When my wife was offered a pharmacist residency in Seattle, we decided it was time for a new adventure. We packed up the cat, dog and all our belongings and drove across the country. Technology allows me to work from anywhere, so I didn’t skip a beat professionally when we moved from one coast to the other.

Lauren Tripp, Agency Consultant – Insurance Agency Consulting


My approach to consulting is not “one size fits all.” I start by listening intently to understand what a client is trying to accomplish. I can then recommend solutions tailored to their needs while recognizing how they differ from other agencies. It’s often a fine line, though. Agency management systems are designed to work in certain ways. I often need to inform clients if they diverge too much from the system’s intended use – there can be unintended consequences. The trick is to coach clients into understanding when it’s prudent to make system changes to fit their business processes and when it’s better to adjust their processes to fit the system.

I use a data-centric approach to help clients become more efficient, improve workflows and optimize their systems. Recommendations are often made based on what Applied Epic audits and reports highlight. I’ve worked with agencies around the country, both large and small. When a client comes to me with a unique business issue, I have probably seen something similar. I can apply those experiences to help them solve their problem.

Weekend Warrior

Daniel Gilbert, VP of Technical Services – Help Desk

Daniel Gilbert

At the end of the day, technical service delivery is a lot more about delivering happiness than fixing computers. As the Vice President of Technical Services, I get to do both. I lead teams that deploy new technology solutions to clients, proactively monitor and respond to system alerts and provide remote help desk support when something goes wrong.
I really enjoy the analytical and statistical aspects of my job. We have metrics for pretty much everything. In real time, electronic dashboards around our office display current phone wait times, average time to resolve an issue and the level of client satisfaction with each service request. By analyzing these metrics and holding ourselves accountable to our service level agreements (SLAs), we drive continuous performance improvement. The result is happier clients.

My latest initiative is laser-focused on solving problems before clients become aware of them. I’m working with our account engineers to analyze patterns in service requests to identify client architectures that do not meet our standards. We expect this will “quiet the noise” associated with preventable service issues. While I love solving a technical problem for a client, we all win when we prevent the issue in the first place.

What I Learned from the Happiest Place on Earth

I’ve been to Disney World so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s at least 15. As an MBA capstone experience, I got a behind-the-scenes view of Disney and discovered how they “make the magic happen.” I saw similarities between creating an exceptional experience at a theme park and delivering superior technical support. For both, you need to show you care about the client, personally, and are highly capable of providing for their needs.

What Else Do You Want to Know about Kite Technology?

Now that you’ve gotten to know some of our staff, who would you most like to work with? What else would you like to know about us? Let us know! Give us a call (855-290-5483) or send us a message!

Tips for Taking Care of Your Laptop

As work locations change and more users shift to using other devices such as laptops to connect, it is important to ensure that your device is ready for the task. Nowadays, a desktop is similar in overall office application performance compared to using a laptop, and working remotely brings its own set of challenges in order to get the most out of your device. These ideas below are based on a variety of common laptop issues that our Help Desk team works on every day as well as potential disruptions that you may encounter while working.

Update Issues

When powered off or in sleep mode a laptop may not connect to get Windows updates as they are available. As Microsoft typically issues patches multiple times a month, having an old laptop that is not used frequently or a computer that is never rebooted keeps any patches from being applied. Best practice is to log off from your account when finished working and to make sure to reboot your computer on a regular basis to make sure that it can be up to date on any Anti Virus, Windows, or other critical patches to improve security.

Battery Care for Both New and Old Laptops

Batteries in all electronic devices have a limited lifespan (often around ~500 full discharges). With a desktop PC, this is not something that users think about but it can be valuable to remember in order to extend the lifespan of any laptop. It is best to not have laptops or cell phones plugged in all the time when working but rather keep the charge level between 20%-80% if possible to preserve battery health. When the charge is kept in this range, the overall stress and wear on the battery cell is much lower and it can therefore retain much of its original capacity. While your devices are smart enough to not overcharge past 100%, they function much better and for longer when the battery is not sitting on maximum energy level at all times

USB-C Connections

Newer laptops often utilize a reversible USB-C port for charging, connecting to a dock and for accessories. This is quickly becoming the new standard plug for phones and laptops in the wild and it is a great improvement from proprietary charging systems with expensive specialty cables. With this convenience and important nature however comes the need to be extra careful when plugging cables in. Our Help Desk team has found that users need to be more careful when plugging in vs typical USB ports or older style connections. Overall, it and many of the smaller ports used to create thin and light devices may not be as durable as you expect based on experience with older equipment.

Proper Ventilation

In order to avoid overheating and the reduced performance that goes along with it, it is best to use laptops on a flat surface where air can reach the bottom cooling vents. Using a desk, table, or an elevated surface allows the air to flow, fans to function, and the processer inside of a laptop to run at its designed speed. We recommend avoiding placement of a laptop on a bed, couch, or blanket for a prolonged period of time due to this reason. In addition to device slowness, the heat generated can eventually cause damage to the battery and even cause the laptop to be uncomfortable to the touch in extreme cases.

Keyboard Care

While it may seem obvious, keeping your keyboard and trackpad clear of any debris will ensure that your laptop is able to function well while working. There are a lot of sensitive electronics below the keys from LED backlights to switches that can be damaged if ignored. Wipe away any accidental moisture that gets near these areas from drinks or your hands. Use a can of compressed air to regularly clean underneath the keys to remove any crumbs or obstacles preventing smooth keyboard travel. It also is a good idea to turn off your Laptop first and then wipe down with a disinfecting wipe to clean the keys, remove germs and also get visible dirt off of the surface.

Taking the time to take care of your laptop will go a long way in ensuring that your work experience will be a success, regardless of physical location. Ready to learn more about how KiteTech can help your organization with remote work strategies? Contact us today!

What’s the Score?

I’m a sports fan. Along with all the far more serious consequences of the ongoing pandemic, all national sports leagues are on indefinite hold. But you wouldn’t have to stop the games to keep me from watching. All you would have to do is remove the scoreboard. The games carry no interest to me, if I can’t tell who’s winning. In fact, the players would likely lose interest, too.

Without a scoreboard, strategy, talent, and hard work quickly become irrelevant.

The same is true in your business. If you don’t know how your team is doing, there is no motivation to strive to do better or to change course. Mediocrity is sure to follow. ALL high performing businesses keep score. Their “scoreboard” contains quantitative measures and can go by many different names. They may call it a dashboard or a scorecard. Each item on the scoreboard might be called a smart goal, a key performance indicator, or a measurable. Regardless of your terminology the key is that you need to know at regular intervals how your company is doing.

At KiteTech, we follow the EOS processes and terminology for creating our Scorecard.

Here are four steps for creating yours:

1. Identify Your 5-10 Measures

Together with your executive team, identify the 5-10 measures that tell you whether or not you are “winning the game”. These measures should cover all the key elements of your business including customer satisfaction, employee engagement, financial performance, and sales. They should also include key operational measures related to quality and productivity. All these measures must be SMART. That is, they must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Based.

2. For Each Measure – Set a Target

The target is based on what is acceptable performance. It should be achievable and aligned with your budgets and business plans.

3. Record each measure relative to the target at regular intervals

Each measure should be recorded at regular intervals. Ideally, this is weekly. Things change too fast in business to measure less frequently. Consider that you need three or four datapoints to identify a trend. If you measure monthly, it could take you three to four months to identify a problem! For us, financial goals are calculated monthly, but ALL other goals are measured weekly. Measures can be recorded in a spreadsheet or with various online reporting tools.

4. Identify corrective actions as soon as targets are not met

Of course setting targets and recording performance is useless if you don’t do anything about it. That is why this fourth step is crucial. You need to have a regular rhythm to review each and every measure and establish a corrective action if the target is not met. At every weekly meeting, our executive team reviews our weekly measures. We create specific action plans and assign an accountable person when a target is not met.

By identifying your measures, setting a target, recording performance, and identifying corrective actions, you will be well on your way to winning the game!

A Word About Scorecards and COVID-19

When this recent crisis hit, certain targets started getting missed. Having a weekly scorecard, enabled us to immediately quantify the impact, prioritize our actions, and respond. It also forced a discussion, to re-evaluate our targets and key measurables in light of the current reality. Far from constraining our actions because of pre-conceived notions of what success looks like, this preparation permitted us to focus our attention, assess the impact, and operate with more confidence in these uncertain times. I am not so bold as to predict the course of this virus or the impact it will have on the lives of our loved ones or our national economy. But I am convinced that our readiness is far greater and our response will be far more effective than if we had no scoreboard by which to measure ourselves.

Stay safe and lead with a steady hand,


Greg DiDio is the CEO of Kite Technology Group. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from The Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Loyola University in Maryland. For the last fifteen years Greg has guided Kite Technology from just a few founding members to a leading national IT services provider for independent insurance agencies. Greg believes that healthy, prosperous work cultures go hand in hand with amazing client service. His passion is to build into leaders who are motivated to improve themselves while creating great companies with amazing work cultures.

Are you Prepared to Work From Home?

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more users are working from home. Kite Technology Group would like to highlight a few critical elements that will ensure you have a secure and productive environment when working out of the office.

Internet Speeds

In order to have a good experience working out of the office, we recommend having speeds of at least 25Mbps download at your home. This will allow for smooth downloads, video conferencing/meetings, and remote connection to your office network if needed. If you are not sure what your connection speed is, a free tool such as https://www.speedtest.net/ can help. You can likely call your Internet provider to increase your plan’s speed if the current connection is not fast enough for working remotely.

Strong & Secure WiFi Connection

A large factor in your work from home experience is the strength of your network connection. Wired Ethernet networking is always preferable, but in the event you must rely on WiFi at home to work here are some tips:

  1. It is best to move close to the wireless router and limit the number of walls between your device and the connection point.
  2. Limit the amount of other users streaming video/music or browsing the web if you start to have lag or slowness as these all contribute to slowing down overall speeds and disrupting critical work connections.
  3. We also recommend that users DO NOT access public or unsecured wireless networks such as Starbucks / Library / Non-Password protected networks as these can easily allow for your data to be intercepted and stolen by malicious users. Instead, connect to your phone hot spot if you absolutely need a connection while out of your home network.

VPN to Access Data Securely

When working at home, security should still be a top priority in how you access data. Using a VPN or Virtual Private Network will allow for safe encrypted connection to the internet as well as any office data or devices that you need access to for work. Without this in place while trying to work, you are potentially putting your browsing and data at risk of being intercepted. The Help Desk can assist if you need a VPN setup or if you are unsure about how to connect to your company’s applications remotely.

Windows 10 Computer, NOT Windows 7!

Again going back to security, Windows 10 devices are the best way to connect and work from home. Anything running Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft and not being patched for security vulnerabilities and should NOT be used for work purposes! Even if they are used for non work related tasks, they are at risk if they are connected to the internet in any capacity.

Antivirus Installed on your PC

Make sure you have an up to date anti-virus program running on your computer such as Windows Defender or another offering. While not perfect, these will scan downloads for issues and alert you if there are files that are known to cause system problems. As always, be careful of what you download to a computer, and do not simply click on an email based link without knowing where it takes you. This is the number one way that accounts are attacked and companies are impacted by Ransomware events.

In Summary, here are a few things to think about as you plan to work outside of the office environment:

  • Your workstation/laptop is only used for work. No kids homework or gaming on business devices
  • Web camera and microphone options available if you want to teleconference or attend online meetings
  • Your device can likely connect to multiple monitors for additional screens if needed
  • Noise canceling headphones can help minimize distractionsRegularly sanitize your keyboard, mouse, and work area as well as wash your hands throughout the day**
  • Office Equipment such as Desktops, Printers, etc. should not leave the building as they are configured only to operate in this environment **

Now that most organizations are facing a larger than ever remote workforce, we hope the above list goes a long way in helping you and your team experience greater work-from-home success!

From InsurTech to The Cloud – Jeff Kite’s 6 Trends for Insurance Agencies to Watch

Since starting Kite Technology more than 28 years ago, I’ve spoken with many insurance agency owners. Over the past years, people have increasingly asked questions about security, data and how to make their teams more efficient. The conversations were productive, and I wanted to bring those insights to a wider audience. Here are some of the most common questions and themes from those discussions.

Q: What Trends Should Independent Insurance Agencies Watch in 2020?

There are several to monitor, and each will affect security and productivity.

1. Ransomware’s new chapter

Cybercriminal behavior has shifted in the past few months, and it’s changed how we think about ransomware. In the past, hackers encrypted files but left them in place. You either restored from a backup or paid to get your data back. Now, files are stolen. Cybercriminals publish the breach event on a public website and threaten to expose the data.

2. Increased regulations around security and compliance

Certain steps you take to secure your environment will be prescribed by state governments and regulatory bodies. Some states, like New York, already have their own requirements for which security controls need to be in place. Others are adopting the model laws published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

3. Third-party vendors emerge as a mainstream threat

Third-party vendors – especially ones with admin access – are highly attractive targets for cybercriminals because the payoff is bigger. When a cybercriminal successfully targets a vendor, they don’t access one company’s system and data; they can infiltrate every organization working with the vendor.

4. Cloud everything

The cloud really is the best solution for most insurance agencies. Line-of-business applications all have cloud-based offerings. With Office 365, you can access email, file storage, collaboration and Microsoft applications any time, anywhere.

5. Workforce mobility

Younger workforces want to work from any place at any time. 100% remote work is becoming the norm and employers need to secure the hardware, software and data their team uses in and out of the office.

6. InsurTech Innovations

InsurTech uses applications and add-ons to solve problems and create new approaches to standard processes. For instance, before car insurers had monitors you plug into your car, drivers were deemed “good” or “bad” based on traffic tickets and accidents. Now, data from vehicles is collected, saving money for people who really are good drivers.

Q: How Can My Insurance Agency Capitalize on New Technologies and Stay Secure?

Ask for help. 10 years ago, you might have been able to manage your own updates or get help from a family friend, but today’s systems are more complex. Compliance, security and the cloud all require continual monitoring to confirm everything is running smoothly and each endpoint is protected.

When systems aren’t maintained, your team encounters issues and productivity drops because an app isn’t working. Or, you’re exposed to threats because an update wasn’t installed. Managed service providers work proactively to minimize the possibility that something goes wrong.

Q: What do I need to know before Implementing Innovative Apps, Like Those Emerging from InsurTech?

Don’t be tempted by an app or plug-in because it’s flashy and new. Before you integrate it into your workflow, do your research. Ask if it’s tried and true or a flash in the pan. Validate the product you’re considering. Read reviews or reach out to peers at industry events or online communities to see if anyone you know has used the tool.

If you’re unsure, ask your IT expert and adopt proven technologies. Tried and tested solutions keep data and systems secure. Use tools that make your employees more agile and your business will be more profitable.

Q: How Can I Increase Productivity and Efficiency?

The cloud is one option. When you move from on-premise to the cloud, you’re not dependent on your building’s power and internet to work. Cloud based systems are almost always more robust and secure than an on-premise system. You experience less downtime and employees can work from wherever. It allows your team to work how and when they want and makes them more effective at their jobs.

Q: What Should I Look For in an IT Provider?

Find a partner who understands your industry. Many of our staff have insurance backgrounds. They’re seasoned professionals who understand the lingo and concerns. This makes it easier to work with clients on everything from day-to-day business activities to strategic initiatives.

Kite Technology can help you better serve your clients.

Contact us today to learn how we regularly leverage technology for our clients to maximize productivity, reduce costly downtime, prepare for future growth and drive strategic initiatives.

How Kite Technology Keeps Your Insurance Agency Compliant

Meeting compliance is often burdensome for insurance agencies. Requirements constantly change, and many are technical – like making alterations to ensure your server and configurations are up to standard. The process is taxing, even for agencies with internal IT.

When you work with a managed service provider, you access a team with a breadth of IT specializations. At Kite Technology, many team members have insurance backgrounds. We are familiar with the industry and well positioned to research new requirements, follow the latest trends and enact solutions to keep your agency compliant.

Your Specific Compliance Requirements Are the Starting Point

In a meeting, we’ll discuss which regulations apply to your business. We’ll pair your requirements with security best practices to maintain compliance and protect your network. To comply with the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) 23 NYCRR 500 you need a comprehensive cybersecurity program. We will then be able to design a compliant environment through risk assessments, vulnerability scans, and the enforcement of compliant password policies.

From there, we’ll tailor your plan, depending on your compliance needs.

Based on your requirements, we might add controls like a USB lockdown where we prevent removable storage from being accessed on devices. Or, implementing multifactor authentication on your devices and accounts.

For example, one of our newer clients wanted stringent security solutions in place. First, we set up continuous network scanning to ensure no gaps exist. Then, we created a policy outlining controls, firewall settings and user access settings. We documented action items, clarifying how we’ll maintain compliance for our client.

We Audit Our Work

After we’ve implemented vulnerability scanning, our team runs audits. Many of our engineers have insurance backgrounds. As they assess your system, they ensure you’re up to date with the latest regulations insurance agencies need to follow and that security gaps are closed.

Your clients and partners have proof you’re actively securing their data.

Our documents and processes can be reviewed by third parties you work with, providing assurance to your partners that your network and data are secured. Or, if a client or third party presents you with a questionnaire, we’ll work with you to answer the questions.

New Regulations Are Carefully Monitored

To keep your network up to date, we carefully read updates on regulations as they emerge. Plus, because our team constantly conducts risk assessments, completes compliance questionnaire and provides general assistance to insurance agencies, we’re alerted to the latest needs and requirements.

A Partnership That Works for You

Some of our clients want to hand off IT completely. Others want their in-house IT to be involved. We’d be happy to serve as your in-house IT or partner with your internal team

Serving as your IT

If you don’t have an IT team, or want us to fully manage your IT, we’ll work with a site contact. Any updates will be sent to this person. If a process affects workflows, we’ll contact you in advance, explain what will happen and schedule a time for the changes to take place.

Collaborating with your team

If your team wants to be involved, we’ll work together to find the right roles and responsibilities for both parties. This could involve actions related to the audit or explaining changes to your users. Either way, your team stays fully informed. We send regular updates and schedule calls to discuss what’s happening.

Optimizing processes

When we started working with one client, the controller had a list of passwords she reset biannually. When passwords were updated, she checked each one to ensure it met standards. We implemented an automated solution with logical controls and requirements. Now, the controller doesn’t have to check passwords twice a year and the agency has strong credentials.

You Don’t Have to Manage Compliance Alone

Compliance doesn’t have to mean another task is given to an overworked team. We can comprehensively manage your requirements. Contact us today to discuss your needs and how we can help: 855-290-5483.

The Security Risks of Aging Hardware

Change is inevitable. With the rapidly growing and ever-changing field of technology, many businesses are finding it difficult to keep up which is putting them and their clients at risk. Consider that as of January 14, 2020 Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Yet, we are seeing that these operating systems are still widely used. That is concerning, because as of that January date, Microsoft discontinued developing and distributing security patches and updates for those systems. That means, that to remain secure, agencies should have already upgraded their hardware to current operating systems like Windows 10.

Unfortunately, I find many organizations are resistant to upgrading their equipment and are delaying plans to upgrade. Why is that? Not surprisingly, they cite the investment costs associated with upgrading equipment. They also note a fear of disrupting operations. These reasons fail to account for the inherent security risks associated with continuing to use unsupported operating systems.

Many businesses don’t see themselves as a likely target given their relatively small size. As a result, they don’t feel it’s necessary to go through the hassle of upgrading equipment. However, thinking that the size of your business makes you an unlikely target is a major misconception. Today, malicious users and hackers aren’t necessarily targeting companies based on their name, financials, or status. They are now probing public facing systems that are out-of-date, easy to get into, and most importantly, easy to find. They can do this on a mass scale using a simple search engine. Yup, a search engine. There are multiple search engines on the web that are dedicated to finding and listing vulnerable public facing systems? For example, Shodan, the most popular of these search engines, can be accessed by anyone for free. All you have to do is type a public IP address into the search engine and if any known vulnerabilities have been associated with the address, they will be listed there. If none are listed there now, eventually they will be. It’s just a matter of time as security researchers are constantly updating the records based on their findings. Hackers are constantly writing programs to search through thousands of IP addresses, making the reconnaissance aspect of hacking a breeze and the probability of a company with out-of-date infrastructure being compromised very likely.

Improved security isn’t the only benefit of keeping your hardware up to date. Upgrading also results in your systems running faster and more reliably. It’s extremely important to have someone dedicated to the task of making sure your systems and software are up-to-date and staying informed on the known threats. Upgrade your hardware accordingly and make sure the software you are using is receiving the latest patches as they are released. While the costs may seem daunting, they pale in comparison to the total costs associated with a breach. These costs include costs to clean up, lost business productivity and sales, as well as damage to your company’s reputation.

Microsoft has been consistently reminding the public about the Windows 7 end-of-life for quite some time now. The deadline has now already passed so, if you haven’t already gotten started, it is important to talk to your IT department or service provider now, to develop a strategy for upgrading your aging equipment. The longer you wait, the higher the risk that your business could be targeted.

Article also published in the September issue of Primary Agent magazine.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – This Cybersecurity Strategy Will Protect Your Business

We’re going to let you in on a secret. For years, we’ve applied the NIST Cybersecurity Framework in our work to secure clients’ networks. We’ve rarely mentioned it because NIST has a reputation for being overly complex, or only for government agencies. It’s neither. The framework is actually a valuable tool and can be right-sized for anyone.

Yes. Anyone.

What is a Cybersecurity Framework?

The NIST Cybersecurity Framework organizes security controls into 5 core functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. When you pop the hood on each function, you discover categories and subcategories which become more technical, providing guidance based on cybersecurity best practices. You don’t need to master this level of detail.

But there are a few tips you should know before adopting a cybersecurity framework, like NIST, to maximize your ROI.

1. Use Cybersecurity Frameworks to Hold Your IT Expert Accountable

When you grasp the key points and purpose of your cybersecurity framework you establish a common vernacular with your IT provider. Then, you’re able to check their policies and procedures against the goals of the framework.

Another way to hold your provider accountable is to ask which peer groups they’re involved with. At Kite, we’re in a group with other IT providers. We open our books to other members who scrutinize our practices and make recommendations.

2. Regulated and Non-Regulated Industries Find Value in Frameworks

With a cybersecurity framework like NIST, obscure requirements can be mapped back to specific categories and sections, providing mechanisms to control risk. It’s granular but flexible and many organizations have incorporated it into their processes. Advisory bodies, like the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), use NIST in their recommendations.

3. Frameworks Prove to Clients You Take Cybersecurity Seriously

Sophisticated, larger clients, like banks and law firms, are likely to send you a detailed questionnaire before signing a contract to discover how you’ll protect their interests. We help our clients complete these forms and commonly see questions like:

  • Are you encrypting emails?
  • Do you have intrusion and detection systems on the network?
  • Do you require employees to change passwords?
  • If you can’t say yes, likely you aren’t going to get that client.

4. You Don’t Have to Check Every Box

Checking every box would be great, but we’d all be broke. Instead, make the framework work for you. Use it to uncover actionable items that will have a significant impact on your security profile.

Use a cybersecurity framework in tandem with risk assessments
The sandwich shop up the street has a different risk profile than someone collecting social security numbers on directors’ and officers’ application. A cybersecurity framework and an assessment will provide recommendations tailored to your business and exposures relative to your peers and other industries.

5. You’ll Uncover Cost-Effective Security Solutions

Not every step you take toward improving your security profile will be expensive, and your IT provider will work with your budget. When we do risk assessments for clients, we look at all deficiencies and start a conversation about the current state and where we want to go. Then we work out the strategy, which often involves simple additions, like auto screen locking computers.

Plus, everything has a price tag. To really evaluate cost, you need to understand what would happen if you don’t act. Think of security as an investment that protects against the astronomical costs of not securing your systems and data. It’s not $10/user/month for a product, it’s $10/user/month to solve a problem that plagues 60% of businesses.

6. Cybersecurity Frameworks Won’t Solve All Your Problems

Unfortunately, you can do everything in your power to reduce risk exposure, but some things are out of your control. That’s where cyber insurance comes in.

Cyber insurance is a vital part of your strategy. If you own a computer, conduct business online or use email you need a cyber liability policy. Otherwise, you’re stuck paying hourly emergency rates for an IT security professional to do a root cause analysis, threat assessment and exposure assessment.

Work with IT Experts Who Understand Risk
When we partner with a business, it’s about more than security. We care about their business, employees and livelihood. To better serve our partners, we employ people with insurance backgrounds. Their expertise and deep understanding of risk informs actions we take to protect our clients. Contact us to learn more.

Is Your Agency Spinning Wheels?

Do you keep encountering the same problems in your agency? Do your producers, managers, and CSRs feel stressed with little to show for their effort? Has your team put a lot of energy into documenting processes only to discover the processes aren’t being followed? Do you add a few accounts, lose a major piece of business, and end up in the same place you started?

I lead a technology company that has struggled with many of these same issues. But it didn’t start that way. For years, our business grew without much difficulty. We were well-positioned to fill a need for many insurance agencies. Our clients sought really competent IT professionals who understood insurance agencies as well as they understood the technologies that serve them. That was us. And then we kind of hit a wall. Processes became overly complicated and roles were unclear. Our profitability and growth suffered. It was then that we discovered a toolset that helped us gain traction and address our pain points. It’s called EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System.

EOS is a simple, yet powerful, methodology for achieving business success. It includes practical tools to bring tremendous focus, role clarity, and momentum to any business. When we deployed EOS, our leadership team raved about how it simplified our priorities and improved the effectiveness of our meetings. Naturally, the business results began to follow.

EOS is designed to strengthen the Six Key Components™ of any business:

1. Vision

The famed management guru the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland said
“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Any effective business management system needs to start with vision. By answering foundational questions that help you discern your agency’s purpose, passion, and destination you can clarify your vision for all your stakeholders.

2. People

Successful agencies start by having the right people in the right seats. The right people are those that share your core values. EOS shows you how to identify these right people to inform your hiring and performance management processes. Once you have the right people you need to get them in the right seats. This involves understanding their specific skills and passions relative to the roles in your agency.

3. Data

Successful agencies also keep score. They know the key measures that determine whether they are hitting their growth and profitability targets. They also understand and regularly track the lead measures that notify them quickly when they are getting off track.

4. Process

Effective executives understand they cannot scale their business unless they standardize their processes. Small agencies can get by using “muscle and feel”. But in order to grow, agencies need their team members to be working together in a consistent manner. Documenting processes does not need to be a tedious and painful experience. You can get maximum value from identifying the major steps to the most important processes and ensuring the processes are followed by all your members.

5. Issues

It’s not that successful agencies don’t have issues. In fact, success breeds change and change inevitably creates MORE issues. But the winners are the agencies that process issues most effectively. EOS provides a framework for identifying the most urgent issues and a simple process for addressing them.

6. Traction

The final component is the engine that ensures progress. It is called Traction™. It includes the planning and meeting rhythm processes that perpetually update your goals and priorities and keep your entire team on the same page. Traction is what ensures that your new habits will “stick” in your organization rather than become just another fad management initiative.

If you would like to learn more about how EOS can help your organization reach the next level, please visit our website. You can also visit the EOS Official Traction Library to learn about books that are available for every member of your organization.

Tech Tips: Slack Shortcuts

The modern workforce depends on collaboration, which is one reason why solutions like Slack have taken off in recent years. Another reason for this is that it’s very user-friendly with many shortcuts built right into the interface. Here are just a few of these shortcuts that can save your business time during the workday.

Navigating Slack

Open direct messages menu – Ctrl +Shift + K

Browse all channels – Ctrl + Shift + L

Previous (unread) channel or direct message – Alt (+ Shift) + Up Arrow

Next (unread) channel or direct message – Alt (+ Shift) + Down Arrow

Access the Quick Switcher – Ctrl + K

Switch to previous workspace – Ctrl + Shift + Tab

Switch to the next workspace – Ctrl + Tab

Return to the previous channel – Alt + Left Arrow

Marking Up Your Messages

Mark all messages in current channel or direct message as read – Esc

Mark all messages as read – Shift + Esc

Mark a message as unread – Alt + Click

Creating Messages

Edit your last message – Up Arrow in empty message field (this shortcut changes to Ctrl + Up Arrow if Use up and down arrows to cycle through your typed history is enabled)

Bold selected text – Ctrl + B

Italicize selected text – Ctrl + I

Strikethrough selected text – Ctrl + Shift + X

Quote selected text – Ctrl + Shift + >

Convert selected text into a numbered list – Ctrl + Shift + 7

Convert selected text into a bulleted list – Ctrl + Shift + 8

Viewing All Keyboard Shortcuts in Slack

For a complete list of shortcuts in Slack, press Ctrl + /.

Protect your Business by Backing up your Data

It’s not always hackers that create dangerous situations for your organization. Threats can come from even unforeseen locations, such as your business’s network. No matter what the threat is, though, you have to be extremely careful about the little things that spell doom for organizations just like yours. One of these is failing to have a data backup solution in place.

When you think about disasters, what comes to mind? Perhaps your mind wanders to electrical storms that short-circuit your building, or a flood that wipes away your infrastructure. Other times, you might think about a hacking attack that exposes sensitive information to onlookers. Regardless of which form your disaster takes, one thing remains constant: operations are affected to the point where it cannot function the way it’s supposed to. This downtime doesn’t have to be permanent to cause major problems for your business. Even temporary downtime can be detrimental to your business’ prolonged existence.

Your employees are another aspect of data backup that you can’t ignore, and it’s all because of the network security ramifications of allowing them to download the wrong attachment, install the wrong software, or visit the wrong website. Depending on the severity of the data breach, you could be looking at either a temporary or permanent shutdown of your business’s infrastructure due to losing important data or certain systems being damaged beyond repair.

This user error is remarkably common in the workplace, even when it’s not related to network security. Certain files could be misplaced or deleted, and without the ability to deploy a data backup, you could be stopped in your tracks. Even minor issues like this can be resolved quickly and efficiently with a data backup plan, so be sure to take preventative measures before they pop up.

Kite Technology can equip your business with technology solutions designed to keep your business alive and kicking even in the face of overwhelming odds. You can learn more about our Backup and Disaster Recovery Services here or reach out to us at 855.290.KITE.

Are you Prepared for the End of Windows 7?

On January 14th of 2020, after a 10-year run, Microsoft’s support of Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 will be ending. Many of you are already enjoying the feature updates of Windows 10 and Server 2016. For those businesses still running Windows 7 / 2008 R2, we want you to be prepared.

What Does ‘End of Support’ mean?

Microsoft provides feature and security updates for their operating system throughout its lifespan. When an Operating System reaches “End of Support”, additional feature and security updates will cease to be released. The system will continue to boot up and function, but any newly discovered security flaws will remain unpatched.

Just How Big Is the Security Risk?

The risk in continuing to run Windows versions beyond their “End of Support” is substantial, because most versions of Windows share some of the same computer code. When new security patches are released for Windows, hackers and researchers will explore these patched flaws to see if they apply to older versions. While not all of them will apply to Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, a sizeable number will. These vulnerabilities will remain unpatched on older versions of Windows.

Is There Any Way to Stay on Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2?

For Enterprise customers, Microsoft has developed an Extended Support Plan. This only applies in certain conditions and is meant for scenarios where a specific line of business app does not offer compatibility with the most current Windows versions. The Extended Support Plan does not apply to licenses that were purchased with computer hardware (OEM), so most businesses cannot use this option.

What Can I Do?

To avoid the rush, we strongly encourage you to begin planning for a hardware/software refresh that includes an upgrade to Windows 10. You should contact your technology partner directly to get started.

Optimizing Applied Epic

Maybe your insurance agency has used Applied Epic for quite some time or maybe you just migrated to it recently. No matter how long you’ve been using Epic, there are many tips and tricks that will help you navigate it more effectively. Taking a few minutes learning the ins and outs of Epic may save you hours in the long run. Here’s 5 tips that will help you better navigate Epic:


Your agency already sets certain system defaults, but did you know that there are still options that you can set as an individual user? Defaults range from setting Servicing Roles to the Agency Structure in a policy application. For example, if you are a Commercial Lines Account Manager, you can set a default so that every time you add a new account, the Format will default to ‘Business’ and the Type of Business will default to ‘Commercial’. Refer to your Welcome Packet for more information about the different default options and how to set them.


When attaching correspondences and documents in Epic, it is important to include a detailed description of what each attachment contains. Proper descriptions allow you to retrieve information quicker without opening multiple attachments to find what you are seeking. Each attachment includes a comments section allowing you to add more information, if you run out of characters in the description field. Ideally, you should be able to identify the contents of an attachment without opening it. Your colleagues will appreciate it too, when they cover your desk while you are away!


Keeping information organized provides another way to find information quicker and keep your accounts looking clean. You can accomplish this using Folders and Sub-Folders. Filtering your attachments by Folder View will show you the folders your agency has set up for you to use. Associating attachments to the correct Folders and Sub-Folders keeps related information together and cuts down on the need to use the Search bar. For example, if you need to provide a Statement of Values spreadsheet to an underwriter, you would be able to find it quickly if it is attached in the ‘Statement of Values’ Folder/Sub-Folder. When information is organized, it is a lot easier to maintain and navigate through an account.


The Access Drop-Down menu changes depending on what screen you are on but has prompts that filter information a lot quicker. Say you are on the Policies screen with a specific policy highlighted. Clicking on the Access menu will give you options to pull up information pertaining to that specific policy. It can take you to the policy’s specific attachments, transactions, activities, etc. You can also highlight a specific attachment and find the associated activity.


It is important to input policy details into its application in Epic and keep these applications updated throughout the policy term. They should contain premium & commission, limits, deductibles, locations, vehicles, important endorsements, etc. Keeping the applications updated allows you to do a variety of tasks more quickly. Examples include: issuing certificates or Auto ID cards and tracking endorsement history and billing. It also cuts down on time spent reading through a policy to verify coverage information.

So, do you already apply all the tips mentioned above? If so, great! If not, this checklist is a great place to start! You will find over time that using these tips will become second nature resulting in improved performance and better overall account structure.

If you would like some help with optimizing your agency’s use of Applied Epic and taking advantage of all the features it offers, give us a call at 855-290-KITE or visit our website to learn more about our Applied Epic Optimization Services.

Excel Tips that Increase your Productivity

Microsoft Excel has a ton of functionality, but how much of it are you actually utilizing? This week’s tip will help you take full advantage of keyboard shortcuts, so you can leverage the solution to the best of your ability and be more productive.


The most basic Excel formatting you can take advantage of is aligning the values in the cells to the left, right, or center. Here are the keyboard shortcuts for each:

● To center the value within the cell, press Alt+H+A+C.

● To align the value within the cell to the left, press Alt+H+A+L.

● To align the value within the cell to the right, press Alt+H+A+R.

Specific Formatting

Your spreadsheet contents might require specific formatting so their meaning can be effectively conveyed. To assign this formatting, try out the following keyboard shortcuts:

● To return your value to general formatting, press Ctrl+Shift+~.

● To indicate that a value refers to currency, press Ctrl+Shift+$.

● To format a value as a percentage, press Ctrl+Shift+%.

● To properly format a date, press Ctrl+Shift+#.

● To format a value in scientific terms, press Ctrl+Shift+^.

● To ensure that a number is properly formatted, press Ctrl+Shift+!.

● To properly format time, press Ctrl+Shift+@.

Applying Borders

Borders are practically necessary when you’re using a spreadsheet, as they can mean more distinction between values. Here are some shortcuts to try for your cell borders:

● To cut to the chase and apply a border to all of a cell’s edges, press Ctrl+Shift+A.

● To only add a borderline to the right edge of a cell, press Alt+R.

● To add a border to the left edge of a cell, press Alt+L.

● To put a border on the top edge of a cell, press Alt+T.

● To apply a border to the bottom edge of a cell, press Alt+B.

● To easily remove the borders from a cell, press Ctrl+Shift+_.


If you thought the previous shortcuts were basic, get a load of these ones. They are the same shortcuts you know and love from various other Microsoft applications.

● To have your data appear in a bold font, press Ctrl+B.

● To type in italics, press Ctrl+I.

● To underline the contents of a cell, press Ctrl+U.

● To strikethrough the contents of a cell, press Ctrl+S.

We hope that you’ll put this list to good use. You could even print it out so that it’s more accessible. Why not distribute it to the employees in your office while you’re at it?

How Agencies Get Hacked

As an IT professional, I constantly stress the importance of training staff how to recognize security threats. The response I most often receive is “We teach our people not to click links, so we’re fine.” But security threats go far beyond the mailbox. I have seen several recent successful attacks that were executed using nothing more than publicly available information and industry knowledge.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that I am a hacker looking to do bad things. Here’s how I could use a combination of easily attainable information and industry knowledge to compromise an agency.

First, I’ll start with a little reconnaissance. Many agencies publish email addresses, direct dial phone numbers, and carrier appointments on their own websites. By using the agency’s website, I can gather a list of employees, learn the agency’s organizational structure, and find the carriers they represent. The agency website may contain a link to a client portal that will tell me the vendor they use for their Agency Management System. If not, most agencies use one of two providers, so I can make an educated guess. I will use this information to craft a plausible story, and then call employees directly:

“Hi Bob, this is Frank calling from support. I’ve been working with on a issue, and we’ve noticed multiple logins from your account. Given the amount of security incidents we’ve seen lately, I just wanted to make sure there’s not an issue. Would you mind getting me connected to your computer, so I can check it out?”

Once an employee lets me in, I will have access to a great deal of information. Under the guise of troubleshooting, I will extract a copy of the user’s documents and mailbox, so I can review the data at my leisure. I will find configuration files, unique software installers, and remnants of a data conversion that will expose the agency’s vendor-designated identification number. I will gain the employee’s trust, by confirming that a problem does exist, but it’s not his or her fault. Someone simply misconfigured the computer. It’s an easy fix, but one that will take some time. I will apologize for the interruption this has caused.

Lastly, I will ask the employee if he or she minds sharing the agency management system credentials with me, so that I can do some further clean up and testing without interruption to the work day. If he or she agrees, I can establish my own access to the agency management system and have unfettered access to the entire client database. Mission accomplished!

In the above scenario, there are several opportunities for the agency to thwart my attempts at access:

It’s common practice for agencies to showcase their entire staff, as well as their email addresses and direct phone numbers. It’s important to reduce the amount of public contact information, so that communication comes through proper channels.

Establish Third Party Policies:

Understanding how third-party vendors contact your staff is crucial to maintaining security. Staff members should be well versed in who may contact them, how that contact will happen, and what information is appropriate to share.

Trust, But Verify: A common tactic of hackers is to convince you that your boss has already approved of what’s being requested, and he or she may be displeased with a delay in response. It’s important to verify the request with your Manager or Supervisor, before taking any action or granting access.

Secure Your Data:

It’s a lot easier to compromise a single computer than a vendor’s infrastructure. So once files are no longer immediately needed, it’s important to attach them to client record, and clean up the local copies.

Security Awareness is about far more than simply being mindful of your mailbox. It’s about being cognizant of where data is stored, how it can be accessed, and how third-party vendors interact with your staff. It’s important to establish a Security Awareness Training program that goes beyond the mailbox, and educates employees on what’s possible, and how it’s executed. I encourage you to make these topics part of your recurring staff meetings, so security is never out of mind.

Article also published in the May 2019 Issue of Primary Agent magazine.

Tech Tips: How to Keep Your Laptop Tidy

Have you ever considered just how dirty your laptop is? Studies have compared the relative cleanliness of a keyboard and a toilet seat… and unfortunately, the keyboard wasn’t the cleaner of the two. This is why it makes sense to regularly give your laptop devices a good cleaning, and why we’ve put together some tips to ensure you safely sanitize a laptop device.

To do so, we’ll start at the screen, and work our way around from there.

Cleaning the Screen

Use a Microfiber Cloth to Clear Dust

Unless you want to ruin your screen (and we can’t imagine why you would) you can’t just grab any old cloth and start scrubbing. Microfiber cloths are ideal for clearing dust from computer (or laptop) screens. Ideally, you will have access to microfiber, but if you’re in a pinch, almost any cloth will work… it may just leave some lint. Having said that under NO circumstances should you use paper towels or tissues.

In addition, try not to press too hard as you’re dusting your screen. You could cause some damage by applying too much pressure.

Carefully Clean the Screen

Remember, we’re working with an electronic device here – water isn’t going to get along with it too well. To protect your laptop, you will want to use distilled water. Soaking a clean sponge, and wringing it out until it’s practically dry, lightly wipe your screen. If there are still spots, you might add a small drop of gentle dish soap into your distilled water. If your device has a touchscreen, check if the soap is safe for its finish.

You have some other options as well, if you aren’t comfortable bringing water so close to your laptop. A cleaning wipe is a good option, as long as it doesn’t contain ammonia or bleach (as these can damage your screen). Whatever you do, don’t use a commercial glass cleaner on your device.

There are screen-cleaning kits made specifically for this purpose, so when in doubt, use one of those. Once your screen is cleaned, you can get rid of any streaks by gently rubbing it with a clean microfiber cloth in a circular motion.

Cleaning the Keyboard

Shaking Out Debris

Most of the cleanliness issue around the keyboard area pertains to debris working its way into the keys. Cleaning out your laptop’s keyboard is much like cleaning out a desktop’s keyboard: hold it upside-down and shake – although you will, of course, want to be very careful while doing this with your laptop. Tilting it slightly can help get extra junk out as well.

Using Compressed Air

Whatever you can’t shake out, you can likely blow out with a can of compressed air. In order to avoid simply pushing the debris further into your device, you should apply the compressed air at a 75-degree angle.

Cleaning the Keys

Finally, the keys themselves. You can use a cotton swab to gently (are you seeing a pattern yet?) get the rest of the grime from them. If the grime is proving stubborn, lightly dampening the swab with rubbing alcohol can help loosen it – on top of giving your keys a nice polish!

Cleaning the Case

Polishing Your Device

Finally, you should get rid of any remaining grime on the rest of your laptop. Similarly to your display, you will want to create a basic cleanser. Again, don’t use bleach, ammonia, or any other store-bought cleansers (unless these cleansers are designed to clean electronics).

For this cleanser, use equal parts rubbing alcohol and distilled water. You will want to make sure that none of this gets on the screen, as the rubbing alcohol can damage it. Barely dampening a sponge – it shouldn’t drip – in your solution, gently clean your laptop’s exterior and (if you so choose) the touchpad. Avoid the ports – we’re taking care of them next, and it would be a shame to damage the device at this point.

Spot-Treatment on Small Details

The rest of the crevices around the device, including the ports, should be gently cleaned with cotton swabs and compressed air. Once this has been done to your satisfaction, give your entire device another once-over with a microfiber cloth, and your device will be clean!

Once this process is completed, your laptop will be considerably cleaner. This means you’ll probably feel a little better about being productive with it!

Tech Tips: How to Find Downloaded Files in Android

Smartphones have become an important part of our lives, whether it’s for personal or professional purposes. Downloading media to devices rather than computers was practically unheard of, but nowadays it’s commonplace. Now that we mention it… where exactly do those files wind up going on an Android device? This week’s tip is all about how to find your downloads on an Android device.

The first method utilizes Android’s built-in File Manager.

Using the File Manager

Your device likely came pre-installed with file management software. To find this software, you need to go through your app drawer. Next, you need to open a specific application. Depending on the device you’re using, you will be looking for Downloads, My Files, or File Manager. When accessing the application, you should see at least one folder for your internal storage. If you have expanded your internal storage with an SD card, your settings might be sending you to your expanded storage. Once you’ve found your download folder, access it. You should see a complete list of all files you’ve downloaded in chronological order. You can, of course, change this preference.

Finding Downloads in Google Chrome

Accessing the Chrome browser application will give you an alternative method of finding your downloads, assuming you used Chrome to download them. Tap the three-dot menu at the top-right corner and select Downloads.

You’ll find your list of downloaded files in this location, where it can be filtered through the use of the hamburger menu button. You can select a file type to sort your downloads by. Furthermore, you can use the magnifying glass search function to find a specific file.

Data is incredibly important for all users, but it’s only helpful if you know where to look. What are some other ways you can use smartphone technology to make your workday easier?

Tech Tips: How to Troubleshoot Your Device’s Sound Problems

here’s nothing quite as annoying as a computer whose volume is either too low or too high. Today’s tip is dedicated to helping you assess and respond to sound problems with your computer or device.

Basic Sound Issues

Small changes in the way you use your device might have an impact on sound. For example, it could just be that your speakers have been turned down too low, or perhaps your external speakers aren’t properly hooked up to your workstation. Better yet, if the speakers have a dial or a knob that lets you control the volume, your internal volume controls won’t do much to resolve these sound issues. In fact, your computer might be muted, which you can notice if you look at the taskbar.

Checking Your Connections

With an external speaker system, there might be some complications with sound. For example, the speakers might not be plugged in, or the USB port or the connectors located on the device’s sound card aren’t working as intended. Make sure that any cables needed for the device to function as intended are connected properly–that means making sure that no cables have come loose. Plus, it’s never a bad time to gauge the quality of the cables. Low-quality wires or those that are fraying and falling apart could also be interfering with the sound.

Confirming Device Playback

You’ll also want to confirm that the right device is playing back your audio. To do this, make sure that the correct device is assigned as your playback device. Follow these steps:

● Open your Control Panel. To find this, you can type “control panel” in the Start menu.

● Open the Hardware and Sound selection, then select Sound.

● Access the Playback tab.

● You’ll see all audio devices available on your computer. Select the right one by right-clicking the associated image and selecting Set as Default Device.

● Click OK.

Of course, not all issues with audio are resolved this easily, so you’ll have to investigate whether or not the sound is being corrupted at the root level or by its connection to your computer. You might be looking at a speaker or sound card problem, so don’t leave out any possibilities.

Four Critical IT Considerations

Most business decisions are not easy and decisions surrounding your business technology are no different. Here, we’ll review what you need to keep in mind when it comes to making decisions surrounding your IT infrastructure.

1. Start by Scrutinizing Security

Whenever you’re considering adding a new piece of technology to your business’ IT infrastructure, your first thoughts should turn to your overall cybersecurity. Is the technology you plan to implement sufficiently secure to do so without undermining the security of your other solutions?

Cyberattacks can very swiftly become costly endeavors, and it isn’t as though the data a smaller business has in its possession is any different than that of an enterprise company… there’s just comparatively less of it. This means that there really isn’t such a thing as a business that is too small to be targeted – it all comes down to a cybercriminal’s preference. Throughout its operations, your business will collect the kind of data that cybercriminals see to be extremely valuable, which means you need to make sure your business’ data is defended.

Considering your security deficits and acting to resolve them is a great starting point to organizing your business’ technology solutions.

2. Delve into Your Data

Speaking of your data, you should also be paying attention to what your data is communicating to you. Leveraging enterprise resource planning solutions can give you insight into your business’ functionality, and where this functionality could stand to see some improvement. From there, you can make a better decision for your company based on what the data says is its biggest need.

However, you should also be careful when leaning on your data. Bringing too many variables into play can lead to false trends and other results that could actually hurt your business. In short, you want to be sure that you understand what data you have and how it applies to each other to better make determinations from it, streamlining your decision-making process and optimizing how you use the data you have.

3. Reflect on Your Business

Any new technology that you add to your workflows needs to be a good fit, in both compatibility with your business’ solutions and with your business’ resources. How well will your proposed solution integrate with your current solutions and workflows? If it doesn’t work well, adjusting your team to the use of the new system may be more trouble than it is worth. You should also consider how ready your planned solution is to scale to your needs. You wouldn’t want to suddenly find yourself with too many or too few resources at your disposal. Furthermore, you will also want to check in on the support that is available, should your new solution go on the fritz. Again, you want to make sure your investment into your solution is a good one.

Perhaps most pertinently, you also need to consider if your employees will be receptive to a new solution. A solution can only be valuable if it is leveraged enough to cover your investment into it, and then some. This means that, if your employees aren’t going to actually use a solution, it isn’t going to be worthwhile to implement it, hard stop.

4. Consider All Options

Before you finalize any decision regarding your technology, you need to take a long look at what you are kicking around, and compare this action to your other alternatives. For instance, let’s say your IT infrastructure will need a new network switch soon. Should you replace it now, or should you wait until an upgraded option is anticipated to be made available?

What could either option cost? We mean all costs, too… the financial cost of replacing your network switch, of course, but the operational costs that this replacement could incur should also be considered. Would waiting until the improvement is available likely create further business deficiencies, or would investing in another model of what you already have put you behind when the new option is made available? Could any of these decisions have an impact on your business’ reputation?

Furthermore, you can’t ignore any regulations you may be responsible to uphold, either. If an older piece of hardware or software means you are no longer compliant to the requirements of your industry, your decision may suddenly be a lot more limited.

When it all comes down to it, the key to effectively making any decision regarding your IT is to accurately calculate the potential costs and compare them to the benefits to be gained. Granted, this isn’t always the easiest thing to do… especially when you still have the rest of your business to attend to, as well.

Kite Technology can help by performing a comprehensive IT risk assessment. We’ll evaluate your network infrastructure and make our recommendations as to your best options. To learn more, or to schedule one today, give us a call at 855-290-KITE.

Fearing Hackers: Why Your Cybersecurity is in Trouble

By now, you should already know the severity of having your network’s cybersecurity breached, but if you don’t, here are the top-5 reasons you should fear online hackers.

Hackers’ Skill and Knowledge

Think about it, you have a job and it is something you spend the majority of your time doing. If it is a specific skill or craft, you build upon your own experience each and every day — the same goes for online hackers. Every day, there are hackers that are trying to bypass the work of cybersecurity companies and, just like anyone else doing the same thing day after day, they get better at it. Hackers know the best ways to penetrate servers through malware, disguise their identity, access a network from an inside device and pay attention to software updates to attempt a zero-day breach.

Neglectful Defense Is Not a Cybersecurity Offense

If your company isn’t constantly revamping their defense tactics, hackers might find access points as you continue to update your servers but not your cybersecurity. When a company arrogantly neglects their cybersecurity but thinks they are okay because they are following the compliance guidelines, they may find themselves in a world of trouble.

So far, the first two reasons may not seem especially significant, but that might just be because of your lack of knowledge with security threats; these next few may grab your attention a little bit more.

Breaches Cause Financial Loss

Cyber attacks may not seem real until you feel the effects personally, but you may want to learn from the statistics of other companies that did not prevent breaches. Cybersecurity companies and companies that have been breached like Marriott, Yahoo, JP Morgan, eBay, and more — can all tell you how detrimental a breach may be, but you do not just have to look at the big names, you can just look at the average cost of a data breach for U.S. companies: $7.9 million. If it still seems unlikely, just realize that there were over 668 million breaches made in 2018 and 1.5 billion the year before that.

How Much Does Your Reputation Cost?

What do you think happens to a company that has a cybersecurity issue? Do people just turn their heads and continue doing business with them as if nothing happened? That is unlikely. Further, if your company is breached and still manages to stay alive after the setbacks, will people want to do business with a company that could not protect their customer’s personal information? Will people want to work for a company that may have had to lay off a large amount in order to pay for the damages from the breach? Again, this is unlikely.

Company Shuts Down

The absolute number one fear of a company being breached is the chance that the damage is too great and there is no overcoming the online hacker. Without a reliable cybersecurity company, this can most definitely happen.

These five fears are something to really consider — admitting to having some healthy fear is okay, it doesn’t mean that you have to lose all thoughts and feelings of hope. For example, it’s probably okay to fear a bear in the woods because you will likely implement defense tactics to keep yourself safe! It is the same with cybersecurity. You can hire a cybersecurity company to not only metaphorically, but also digitally, create a fortress for you to escape online threats. Through products like Fortinet’s SIEM solution managed by managed IT companies like us, you can confidently combat some of that fear and breath a little easier. For more information about what we can do for you, check out our services today.

Prepping for On-Premise Hardware

Cloud computing has changed the way that businesses function, including some organizations that have foregone the on-premise server entirely in favor of it. Unfortunately, this approach can be problematic, as the data security and privacy issues associated with cloud-based resources might prove to be less than sustainable for your particular business.

Businesses that want to host their own IT infrastructure on-premises will need to be very careful about the technology they implement–particularly in regard to choosing hardware and network setup. This might seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding the basics can help your business in the long run when implementing new hardware solutions. Here are a few pointers.

Get a Server Rack

If you’ve never had on-premise hardware, then you probably haven’t thought about what investing in this hardware means, including how long it will stay effective and where you will store it. You can kill two birds with one stone by purchasing a server rack. While it might seem like overkill, having a centralized location for your server units will keep you from suffering from a disorganized mass of wires and components that will need the attention of professionals to unhook properly. A rack can make your server infrastructure much easier to manage, but only if you get the one that suits your interests. Server racks are measured in rack units, or RU, and come in full-height (42U) or half-height (24U). The option for wall-mounted cabinets exists as well.

Whatever you choose, hosting your own hardware will mean that you need a place to store it. Servers are rather hot and loud, so they can range from being a distraction to being dangerous for your business continuity, when not properly managed. Isolating your company’s servers in a room designed for them provides a central infrastructure that can easily be maintained and managed. This brings us to our next point… cooling.

Cooling Your Infrastructure

When thinking about your infrastructure’s hardware, cooling is absolutely critical, and it should be a defining factor when thinking about moving your hardware to a new room. Your server room should, in theory, be climate-controlled with air conditioning and proper ventilation. If you’re using a proper data backup and disaster recovery solution, however, you’ll have a little more leeway in terms of climate control, particularly in regard to the heat given off by these units. If exposed to too much heat, server units will result in hardware failure and downtime.

Some organizations have HVAC systems that stop running when people leave for the day, but this is the last time you want your server units to be exposed to too much heat. Therefore, any server room with air conditioning or refrigeration will need to be set up independently of your organization’s HVAC system.

A Mess of Wires

Adding more hardware to your infrastructure will only make it more complicated, and when there are more machines on an infrastructure, there will be wires and cables that need to be managed. If you’re not careful about how you manage your servers, it might look something like the one below.

A complete renovation is somewhat necessary in order to recover from this situation. The one on the right looks fine, but only because a technician invested a lot of time and effort in making it organized. Labeling everything on the server rack is essential, as moving even a few cables could be enough to harm the network’s performance, and documenting what each unit is for will expedite maintenance on the technician’s end. A label printer with the hardware will make it so that you can label equipment based on names or IP addresses.

Hardware should only be handled by professional IT technicians, so why not invest in your business’ future with Kite Technology? We can maintain and manage your hardware, whether it’s hosted on-premises or in the cloud. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Data Backup Carries Powerful Value

World Backup Day is a time when every business should contemplate whether or not they have proper data backup strategies in place. Considering it was about a month ago, did your organization take the time to think about it? Granted, there isn’t a single day in the year that could explain what your data means to your business, the importance of data backup, and that your businesses should always do what it can to avoid data loss.

The Causes of Data Loss

Approximately seven-of-ten companies experience some type of data loss, so you need to do your part to understand what causes it. Consider how much data you could lose from a natural disaster or user error. Natural disasters only account for roughly one percent of all lost data, however, so while protecting against something massive like that is prudent, it is dwarfed by the 78 percent caused by hardware failure or other system malfunctions.

How Does Perception Influence Data Loss?

It’s clear that most of the attention regarding data loss comes from external factors, such as natural disasters or hacking attacks, even though the majority of problems arise from failing to take care of your network infrastructure and hardware. That being said, it’s important to consider whether this fact actually matters. Data loss is data loss, no matter how it happens, and while the consequences of any given disaster might vary, it’s important to keep this in mind.

This isn’t to say that the causes don’t matter–rather, we want you to keep in mind how you can prevent the causes from leading to data loss. Understanding why data loss occurs in the first place is the best preventative measure you can hope to leverage, but data backup is going to be the catalyst that enables you to recover from data loss of any kind.

Guaranteeing Data Backup

Reliability is key to making sure that your data backup doesn’t wind up holding your organization back from a recovery scenario. It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you need to recover data, only to find that it’s corrupted or unavailable. This is why you always test your backups and store them in the cloud. Not only will they be accessible when they’re needed most, but they will also be practically guaranteed to work as needed. You can never go wrong with data backup. It will pay for itself in the long run.

To learn more about how your organization can take advantage of data backup and disaster recovery, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Using the Windows 10 Snipping Tool

Taking screen shots is a great way to save pictures of anything you are looking at on your workstation as well as providing a visual to someone you are trying to describe an issue to. Many chose to use the Print Screen button, but this only takes a full screen picture instead of a specific window. Did you know Windows 10 has a great tool you can use instead? It’s called Snipping Tool!

To Use:

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Type the name “Snipping Tool” and select it from the program list
  3. Click NEW and then click and drag your mouse over the area of your screen you want to capture.
  4. Once taken, simply click File to find options to Save or Send As Email to someone.

TechTip provided by Evan, Tier Two Help Desk Technician

Social Media Use in the Workplace

There is no doubt that as a technology, social media has revolutionized the way we interact with others and how we do business today. From a technology management perspective, it also has produced a lot of wasted man-hours over that time. Today, we will look at the pros and cons of social media for the small and medium-sized business, and how to get so the use of it is a net-positive position for your company.


If a business owner was to sit and consider the beneficial characteristics of social media for their business it wouldn’t take long to ascertain that the main draw of the technology is that the people that buy the product or service (or would buy it) are on social media. No matter what type of advertising the organization has done up until now, having access to the people that would be interested in the offerings is a massive win. With over 50 percent of adults actively using multiple social media sites, any business has an opportunity to access their customers’ attention.

Another benefit for the use of social media is the nature of social media itself. Being able to understand what people like/dislike, products they will/won’t buy, and services they will/won’t subscribe to can help an organization alter their offerings to make them more attractive; or, at the very least, give marketers a strategy about how to go about presenting their offerings on social media.

Finally, while social media is free, per say, businesses that use it typically pay to advertise or promote the content they share. It gives any business the ability to target their marketing investments to touch the people that would most likely be interested in a product or service.

This provides a litany of benefits including:

  • Knowledge about customers/prospects
  • Interaction with customers/prospects
  • Increased traffic to a company website or store
  • Increased sales leads (and therefore increased sales)
  • Promotion of a business’ authority
  • Promotion of a business’ willingness to help others
  • And many more

While this technology is largely divisive for individual, for the modern business using its benefits only serves to benefit the entire business.


The use of social media is not all good for a business, however. While it does give the business a platform to interact with customers, customers are still people and some of them will frustrate marketers. What’s worse is that since social media is constantly evolving, it is not always easy to ascertain whether or not the practices in use are working until they do.

Another problem with social media is that tracking its ROI takes a lot of time. The idea is to be more accessible by the average customer, but since this theory only provides a business with marginal success most of the time, they have to be able to measure how well their social media investments are tracking. If a business lacks a concrete strategy in which to use the platform, it may see their return of their social media investments plummet, which often leads to social media neglect. With 92 percent of millennials expecting every business to have a Facebook presence, not having one can actually be a major problem.

Finally, the worst part of social media for any business is the cost they see in a loss of productivity. Over three-quarters of all SMB employees use social media. That is a massive number. If the average user spends 15-to-30 minutes a day looking at their social accounts, whether that be scrolling down their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram walls, or watching a funny video on YouTube, they are costing their companies a lot of money. Furthermore, nearly one-third of U.S.-based SMBs have had to deal with malware propagated via social media.

Today, there are two schools of thought on the distraction. One is that since everyone uses social media, that some businesses have begun to give their staff social media breaks, where they are allowed to do what they have to do online. The other, and much more prevalent view is that using social sites on company time is unacceptable. From the employer’s perspective, even if their employees only use social media for five minutes – that five minutes multiplied over 200+ working days per year is a whole lot of distraction. With more and more studies showing that it takes time after being distracted to get back focused again, that’s a lot of time and potential cost incurred by the company for something seemingly minor. If this theory is to be believed, then employees are costing companies thousands or even millions of dollars every year, by just being on social media.

How to Manage Social Media Use

Obviously, the people that manage and use your company’s social media need to have access to it. Since it is a big portion of these people’s jobs, and important to your business’ online success, blocking social media across the network isn’t an option. If you are one a business owner that believes that you are missing out on significant revenue as a result of your workers addiction to social media sites, you have options.

You can try and implement a soft ban, which entails not allowing these sites access on any company-owned device. This would still allow your staff to utilize their personal devices to use their social sites. This could reduce the amount of distraction on your team.

Another option would be to put a complete ban on social media (except for essential employees). While this would be the most effective at avoiding wasteful social media-related behavior, it could also backfire on you. Many of today’s employees don’t feel complete without access to their social accounts and would quickly become disgruntled if they had access to social media one day, and had it blocked the next. This strategy is one that may work best in a workplace that has a limited amount of employees, since you would probably be more apt to be involved in your company’s social media use.

Whichever strategy you choose, you will need technology that allows you to control website access. A content filtering solution allows IT administrators to whitelist and blacklist websites per user, giving any organization the ability to control what their staff can access and what they can’t. For more information about acquiring a content filtering solution, or any other software solution that can help your business be more profitable, contact Kite Technology at 855-290-KITE.

How Technology is Evolving Retail

Unlike the office environment, the technology used in retail has been relatively stagnant. The times are changing, though. It’s been a long time coming, but the technology used in the retail environment is finally evolving to meet the growing needs of organizations. Unfortunately, this has been met with the challenges of implementing said technology in the industry.

Industry leaders are the major hang-up in this case, as they are reluctant to implement the new technology. Even though there has been a significant shift in the past few years toward the adoption of this technology, leaders simply don’t believe they need it. Considering how important customer satisfaction is to the retail experience, you would think that any technology that improves it would want to be used. With consumers demanding a greater user experience that is more personalized, however, it only makes sense that technology like mobile apps and e-commerce would pick up speed.

Business owners need to take the first step by pretending to be on the outside looking in. They need to appreciate what technology can do for a business from the consumer level. On the other side of the equation, you have IT administrators who need to think about the macro effects and immediate budget impacts as well as the long-term benefits of such a solution. Since the massive amount of changes to technology in the business environment, more standardized terms have been implemented to make it easier for people to discuss these issues.

These terms have unfortunately caused there to be little distinction between the variety of available solutions, which has stymied the ability of businesses to make decisions. Let’s look at some of the biggest data breaches out there: Target, TJX Companies, Inc. (think Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods), and Home Depot. All of these companies have experienced data breaches through their point-of-sale systems, all due to poor security solutions in place.

Therefore, the problem isn’t the point-of-sale system, rather the fact that businesses aren’t investing enough in protecting said systems.

There’s no telling if proper IT service management could have kept these situations (and others in the past) from happening, but one thing is clear: all businesses, retailers included, can benefit from IT support and security. We’re hopeful that retail industry leaders will start to pay more attention to how technology can benefit them, and we’re confident that when they do, they’ll see organizations like KIteTech stepping up to the plate to ensure successful implementation, management, and security.

To learn more about how technology can work for you, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Business Data Management

All businesses need to be as efficient with their resources as possible. You might be surprised by the difference you can make simply by using your data more effectively. Stronger data management platforms, or DMPs, can put you in a better position to understand your organization’s needs, including its market and its customers. It’s time to look at how a DMP can make your business more effective and resource-efficient.

Data Management

If you’re new to data management, you might be surprised to find out that your organization creates, receives, and stores a considerable amount of data that can be leveraged to its benefit. Unfortunately, most businesses have this data not in one single location, but strewn across their entire network. Some of this data might even be found on old servers, in the cloud, or on disk drives.

First, you’ll have to determine what your business’ storage needs are. You should aim to centralize your storage without making it too complicated, all while keeping costs to a minimum. KiteTech can help you make the choice that’s best for your business. Once your data is in a convenient location, your data management system will be much more effective.

Data Warehousing

Business intelligence platforms can allow your organization to take advantage of high-end business analysis, but you’ll need a data warehousing solution before you can truly leverage it. A data warehouse is a location where you can run business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) software to improve your business. Innovative software can help you crawl through standing data to discover new trends.

What are BI and BA?

While they might sound similar, BI and BA are two different things. Business analysis is the act of defining how certain strategies and processes work, as well as outlining why they are used. The business analyst will generally identify ways in which these processes aren’t used as efficiently as they could be, or even predict the outcome of a particular situation.

Business intelligence, on the other hand, is using your business’ data to determine what your business is doing, how it’s being done, and the results of such actions. You can use business intelligence to determine metrics for measuring the effectiveness of your business.

Data Backup

Of course, when you have so much data being used in everyday operations, you’ll want to make sure it’s backed up. KiteTech offers a comprehensive data backup solution that you’re sure to find valuable. To learn more about ways to use and protect your organization’s data, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Here are 5 Trends Happening with the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is currently one of the most promising, yet risk-laden, information technology trends that we have today. The combination of the push for more connected devices with the lack of the security they need to remain protected, presents a considerable issue for a business’ network security. Here, we’ll examine some of the IoT’s latest trends, and how they could impact your business.

Updated Security

As we said, IoT devices aren’t exactly known for their security… quite the opposite, in fact. Since the very beginning of the Internet of Things, IT administrators have primarily seen its risks. All it would take for a threat to access a network would be for a vulnerable IoT device to connect to it, providing a bridge for the threat to easily cross. This is why there has been a lot of focus on improving the security of IoT devices. Currently, the various devices that build up the IoT – like wearables, web-connected appliances, audio/media equipment, and consumer-focused networking devices – are specifically meant to be easy to connect to, and as a result, they aren’t difficult to exploit. In addition, there are also IoT devices meant for business purposes – such as automated utility infrastructures, factory equipment, security cameras, and many others – all of which could cause serious issues if accessed by someone outside of the business

Additional Devices

There are currently somewhere between eight and 25 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet (depending on your source of information) although the larger number is probably closer to the truth. This daunting number makes it hard to believe that any network could possibly be safe. However, this is just the beginning, as there will be a predicted 75 billion Internet-connected devices by the year 2025. If this kind of growth is to take place, these devices are going to need to be made much more secure.

Multi-Purpose IoT Devices

By their nature, the majority of IoT devices are designed to excel at a single task. With the anticipated introduction of 5G networks, this has the possibility to change. The enhanced bandwidth of a 5G mobile network would allow for many device limitations to be removed, the management of IoT endpoints to become faster, and have a larger impact on the security structures described above.

Incorporation Into Automobiles

While the automotive industry is no stranger to the Internet of Things, the increased need for data will only make smart devices more necessary as well. Expect to see IoT and other forward-focused technologies make their way into automobiles, as that industry has demonstrated an appetite for data.

The IoT and Edge Computing

While cloud computing is an innovation of the 20th century, its importance has swelled in the 21st. Businesses looking to grow have access to far more options, thanks to the virtualized environments of the cloud, but not all businesses have much use for the cloud in their core technology systems. However, by incorporating cloud technology into some of the extraneous processes of a business in a methodology known as edge computing, even industries that would otherwise be a poor fit can benefit from cloud computing.

There is no question that, as we progress into the information age, the IoT will only continue to have a place in businesses.

Is Multitasking Possible?

It seems that businesses today are obsessed with productivity, and while this isn’t a bad thing inherently, it can encourage you and your employees to pick up bad habits. Unfortunately, those who try to juggle responsibilities are often less productive than people that focus on one task and take it through to completion. Let’s discuss why this is, and how you can better, more productively make use of your time.

Multitasking Isn’t Actually a Thing

As it turns out, trying to do more than one thing at once doesn’t work. The concept of practically multitasking to boost your productivity is 100% bonafide, grade-A nonsense. It isn’t that men or women are better at it, it isn’t that younger people have developed the skill in their ultra-connected world… it’s that the whole idea is a falsity.

At least, in the way that most people view it.

Let’s try a brief experiment. Try drumming your fingers on your desk as you read this blog.

Now, back to how multitasking is utter nonsense.

The issue really boils down to the fact that we define multitasking as the act of doing more than one thing at once. This is something that has been proven to be impossible for the human brain to do. When we think we are “multitasking,” all we’re really doing is mentally switching from one task to another. That’s just how we’re put together, we’re meant to focus on one thing at a time.

We are so often presented with what appears to be examples of practical multitasking, this makes us believe that two separate tasks can be accomplished at one time. It is only natural to resist dismissing the concept entirely. After all, how else do you explain all the people we see all the time singing and dancing, typing on the computer while participating in a separate conversation, or even walking and chewing gum at the same time?

Pride Gets You High

Each time the brain addresses the many mini-tasks that we perceive as multitasking, it rewards itself with a quick hit of dopamine. Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter, can effectively be described as the brain’s reward to itself. Dopamine can be released no matter how small the perceived accomplishment is. As a result, whether it’s checking email or locking down lunch plans, each tasks we complete releases a little bit of dopamine.

The thing is, our brains really like this dopamine, and so we are then motivated to do what will release more of it.

This is where the compulsion to check social media and email can come from. If we can fool ourselves into thinking we’re doing a lot (even if we aren’t accomplishing anything) we can encourage our brains into releasing more dopamine.

Three Reasons to Resist the Temptation

Of course, mental addiction aside, can multitasking have any other negative qualities or side effects?

Of course it can!

Multitasking doesn’t increase your productivity.

Actually, it decreases it, and technically makes your tasks take longer than they ordinarily would.

Let’s say that we were assigned to do two tasks. Task A should take about 45 minutes and Task B should take about 90. This means that, doing each task one after the other, should take us 2 hours and 15 minutes.

If we were to multitask, shifting from Task A every 15 minutes and from Task B every 30, it wouldn’t actually affect the total amount of time it takes to complete our workload. Both tasks would still take a combined 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. What’s worse, that by switching back-and-forth between these tasks you make each segment of supposed productivity take that much longer.

If we continue to assume the 15:30 minute intervals, the 45-minute mark that should have seen the completion of Task A would only see each task being one-third done. In fact, Task A wouldn’t be completed until an hour longer had gone by.

Multitasking is stressful.

Trying to multitask inherently makes us feel tired and frazzled, primarily because switching our mental processes the way that multitasking demands ultimately stimulates the production of cortisol in the brain. Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol lingers in the body for much longer than other hormones do. So, there’s a reason that we feel stressed as we multitask: we’re introducing more of a stress-causing hormone to our brain by doing it…. And, of course, it still gets worse.

Multitasking can have a detrimental effect on the brain itself.

Studies have established that multitasking can actually be related to various mental health and cognitive capabilities, if it doesn’t directly contribute to them. One such study showed that multitasking led to severe cognitive drops in adult subjects, bringing their IQ scores to that of an eight-year-old. The same effect can be brought about by a sleepless night.

Worse, further studies have associated the tendency to multitask to a less dense anterior cingulate cortex. This is the area in the brain responsible for human empathy and control over cognitive capabilities and emotions. While it still isn’t sure which of these traits is the cause and which is the effect, it doesn’t cast multitasking in a great light either way.

Multitasking can also affect a person’s emotional intelligence as well. Without a sufficient EQ, an individual could face some challenges in the modern workplace, as EQ covers self-awareness and the ability to maintain social relationships. Most noteworthy, an emotional intelligence training firm known as TalentSmart tested the EQ levels of more than one million people, concluding that more than 90% of industry performers demonstrated high EQ levels.

Summing it up, multitasking could potentially have a negative effect on one’s work, affecting stamina, memory, workplace relationships, and general cognition.

Are you still drumming your fingers, and (without peeking) what were two of the three examples that we offered as “proof” of multitasking’s legitimacy? If you aren’t drumming, you just proved that you can’t actually multitask, and if you can’t remember the examples we used, we may have just proved that multitasking isn’t a practical means of working on a task.

Returning to two of our examples, the secret behind singing and dancing simultaneously or walking and chewing gum at the same time, is the same as the secret behind anything else in the world: practice — or, more accurately, practicing doing these two activities in a unified way.

Technically speaking, this means that these activities no longer qualify as multitasking, as they are each combined into a single action. Someone isn’t singing while they are dancing, they are singing, as well as dancing, as one, solitary skill. The same could be said of someone who can walk as they are chewing gum… two disparate activities have become one action, through extended practice.

How to Stop Trying to Multitask

Seeing as we’ve pretty clearly framed multitasking as a negative thing, it is pretty clear that it is the kind of habit you’ll want to break. As with most bad habits, one of the better ways to get rid of it is to replace it with a good habit. We’ve assembled a few suggested habits to help you avoid your multitasking tendencies:

Ignoring “Free” Time

We’ve all been in that position: we’re working on a project, and we’re currently stuck waiting on a response from a coworker. While this may sound counter-intuitive at first, try to ignore the temptation to abandon your efforts for another task with the intention of revisiting the first task later on. Don’t forget the lesson we learned above…switching between tasks means that neither is completed quite as quickly.

However, you shouldn’t see this as an excuse to sit around and wait all day for a response, either. Try looking at it as an opportunity to evaluate how your project is coming along, to establish an estimated timeline for the remainder of your work. If you do elect to switch tasks, make sure that you switch back promptly once your original task can continue.

Communicate When You Are Unavailable

Chances are, the majority of distractions you’ll have to deal with in the workplace are going to come from internal sources, be it from conversations between coworkers or incoming business communications. For the sake of your productivity, you will have to do your best to either ignore or, if possible, discourage these distractions. Make sure that you signal to your team that you shouldn’t be disturbed with a quick announcement of your unavailability and/or the application of headphones (music/white noise optional).

Disconnect from Distractions

As far as you are able, you need to put a stop to the other distractions that can influence your workday. Take email, for example. While it can be a great communicative tool, it can also lead to distractions. If you can, silence your notifications, and schedule out times to check it. If your attention to something is urgently needed, you will be notified.

Your mobile device is often the same way. Each time we glance at it, our concentration is diminished. With the exception of when an urgent call is expected, try to power it down and put it away. Without its interruptions, you’d be surprised how much can be achieved.

Organize Yourself

Want to know why the to-do list has been used for so long? It’s simple and it works. Mapping out your day’s goals by their priority enables more to be accomplished, and allows you to plan out the breaks that you’ll likely need. This mindfulness will also help your ability to fully focus on the task at hand. This practice, in contrast to multitasking, is known as monotasking.

Rather than splitting your time and attention between two goals, monotasking is the full dedication to one goal at a time. We examined these differences above with our 45-minute and 90-minute tasks. Just as we showed in our example, monotasking enables goals to be accomplished more efficiently.

Tech Tips: Avoid FaceTime Spying

Sometimes threats come to light only after they’ve been around for long enough to cause concern for the public. This was the case with a new bug found in Apple’s FaceTime app that allowed users to spy on others without their consent through group FaceTime calls. Thankfully, a patch has been issued that resolves it, but perhaps the way that it was implemented is the most interesting of all.

The most dangerous part about this threat was definitely how accessible it was to just about anyone who wanted to use it. In fact, it was so accessible that Apple had to disable the feature entirely until it was resolved, inconveniencing users at the cost of security.

Following the release of the update to iOS 12.1.4, Apple turned the feature back on, but until the user applies the patch, group FaceTime will simply be inaccessible. This is one way to handle the potentially disastrous scenario, as instead of giving users the option to continue using the service and putting themselves (and their privacy) on the line, Apple is leaving no room for error or controversy, instead opting to protect themselves and their users until they update their devices.

How to Upgrade Your Device

If you own an iOS device, you can run the update by following this path: Settings > General > Software Update. Keep in mind that you’ll want your device to be charged, and you will need a wireless connection as well. Automatic downloads can also be turned on through this process, meaning that you don’t have to initiate the update yourself.

This just goes to show how we all need to be mindful of what our devices are capable of, and how easy it can be to put our privacy at risk when we aren’t mindful of it.

In general, it’s important to remember that software updates are designed to be implemented as soon as possible, as they often address vulnerabilities or issues with security and performance.

How to Order the Items on your To-Do List

Being in business today means that you have a lot on your plate, it’s as simple as that. Yet, with so many tasks piling up, it can be challenging to prioritize them all so you can figure out where to start. Below, we go over some strategies you can use to make sense out of all the tasks you have on your day and reach a point of productivity.

  1. Eliminate Non-Starters

If you are not currently able to work on a particular task, it shouldn’t be on your to-do list. Therefore, you need to identify which of your compiled tasks you are actually able to complete, and which you can’t do for reasons outside of your control. Once you have determined these, remove them from your to-do list consideration, or make a point of following up on them. These kinds of tasks will likely only frustrate you and slow you down.

  1. Rank Your Tasks by Importance and Urgency

Let’s all be honest here – there are tasks that we all just don’t want to do, which means that there is going to be the temptation to procrastinate doing them until the very last possible moment, hoping that we’ll have the time when it’s down to the wire. However, there are also tasks that unequivocally must be done within a certain timeframe. Yet, even when these two categories overlap, the urge is still there to push back the unwanted task. Resist it – the negative consequences of missing a deadline would be far worse than some frustration now.

  1. Determine a Task’s Value

This is related somewhat to the importance and urgency consideration. What item on your to-do list will deliver the greatest benefit to the company as a whole, and a bit more importantly, to your clientele? Alternatively, which task will cause the greatest fallout if it isn’t completed in a timely fashion? By comparing each item on your list to one another in this way, you can arrange them so that the work gets done in the order it needs to.

  1. What Does the Boss Want?

What does the person immediately above you in the company hierarchy see to be the priority? Whether or not you necessarily agree with them is moot. They are in charge, so if they want things to be done in a certain way, or certain objectives to take precedence over others, that is their prerogative. This is not to say that you necessarily do things in the order they tell you without question, either. If you see a way to do things that is better, pitch it to them – just make sure you have your counterpoints prepared for the ensuing fallout.

This deciding factor works at all levels of an organization, from entry all the way up to the executive suite. After all, the boss’ boss in any organization is, to a point, the customer.

  1. What Are You Ready to Tackle?

It is also important to remember that you’re only human, and there are going to be those days that you just aren’t ready to dive into a big, important project first thing. Knowing your own limits and working style will help you to understand how your time is best spent, which is really the most important factor to productivity.

On a related note, you also want to remember that businesses are dynamic things, and you may suddenly be presented with an urgent, high-priority task – something that your team needs right now. Remaining adaptable and able to pivot between responsibilities is an important talent to develop in business.

Again, it is all about the work that you are prepared to do in the moment. If small tasks need to take precedence over large ones because that’s the only way anything will get done, so be it.

Avoiding Cybercrime

Did you know that almost 90 percent of small business owners feel they are completely safe from attack? It’s unfortunate, but the truth of the matter is that half of these businesses will eventually be proven wrong–they too can suffer from a cyberattack. Are you going to risk becoming one of them? You should know now that there is no reason to.

The good news is that you don’t have to lie down and accept defeat at the hands of cybercriminals. If you take precaution now, the chances of your business being struck by a cyberattack are lessened considerably. If you fail to take action now, you could be among the organizations that are forced to close up shop as a result of a breach. It’s estimated that half of the companies that suffer from a cyberattack will be out of business within six months, and if you don’t prepare for it now, you could be next.

Here are a few tips that can help your business withstand cybersecurity attacks:

Implement updates: Updates aren’t meant to be an inconvenience, but it can sure seem like it at times. By properly maintaining your organization’s software, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding against enemy threats.

Involve your employees: Employees are one of the biggest entry points for cyberthreats, so it’s natural that you involve them in the conversation surrounding security. Take the time to train them on security best practices to ensure they don’t make a slip-up that costs your organization dearly.

Limit user access: If an employee has access to more data than they need to do their job properly, then your organization is potentially exposing more information than necessary to danger. Even if you trust your employees, there’s no reason anyone should have access to financial records or personal information unless they need it for their job, like human resources or accounting. Furthermore, you should have a separate Wi-Fi account made exclusively for your visitors. This keeps your network separate from others who have no business accessing it.

Maintain data backups: In a worst-case scenario, you’ll be glad to have data backups to help you get back in action following a data loss incident. Whether your data is stolen, destroyed, or corrupted, a data backup is critical to the success of any preventative security strategy. Be sure that your data backup solution is cloud-based, encrypted, and password-protected.

Does your business need security assistance or data backup services? Kite Technology can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Antivirus, Analyzed

Antivirus is a crucial component to any network security platform, but do you know how it works? Below, we’ll go over how your security is improved by an antivirus solution.

What is Antivirus?

Antivirus is a variety of software meant to identify malware and other software-based threats and eliminate them, protecting your computing resources and data. While they aren’t all equally effective, you should have something implemented to protect your business’ key components from the multitude of hazards that lurk online.

What Does It Do?

An antivirus solution has a big responsibility, as there is a diverse variety of malware that could potentially create big problems for a business. Antivirus is what keeps these potential problems from actualizing. When you seek out an antivirus solution, you’re looking for a solution that does the following:

● Enables scans to be scheduled

● Allows scans to be initiated, on anything from a single file to the entire network

● Identifies and eliminates malicious code

● Reports the computer’s overall health and efficiency

How It Works

Based on predetermined and downloaded threat definitions, your antivirus will scan your files to see if any of the code in them matches its reserves of identified threats. By recording and archiving identified malware in the cloud, the antivirus solution is able to be more effective as compared to one hosted locally.

Any executable files that enter the system are scanned. If they happen to meet the threat definitions you have in place, they will be categorically blacklisted, blocked from further action, and quarantined. You have the ability to override the antivirus’ categorization, but generally speaking, a program was blocked for a reason.

Why Should I Pay For Antivirus?

There are a variety of antivirus options out there for a variety of price points, many being free. However, for a business’ purposes, the paid option is generally a better call, just because they are generally more up-to-date on the latest threats. Fortunately, there are many budget-friendly antivirus options out there that can do the job, so this is one investment that will certainly be worth it when all is said and done.

For more information about antivirus solutions or any other means of improving your network security, reach out to Kite Technology and our IT professionals. We can help keep your business safe and running at its most effective. Call 855-290-KITE to learn more.

Utilizing Cloud Solutions

The latest technology can help businesses compete with even large organizations if it’s implemented properly. The cloud is one of these tools that helps new businesses take advantage of goods and services previously inaccessible to those with limited budgets and in-house assets. In fact, the cloud is one of the few solutions your organization can implement that actually grow alongside your business.

Here are some solutions you can implement through the cloud for the benefit of your business.

The Cloud Communications

The cloud is a great way to implement new communications solutions, like your phone system or email. For example, traditional telephone systems can be frustrating to make changes to on a whim. This means that whenever you want to add more endpoints or handsets, you have to run new telephone lines and set up extensions. The cloud makes all of these communication solutions much more freeing compared to the traditional methods as long as you have enough bandwidth to support access to them.

The Cloud for Data Storage

Data storage is one of the biggest uses that the cloud has, especially for budding businesses. With access to files from anywhere on any connected device, employees can be as productive as can be as long as they have the right permissions. If your organization hosts data in the cloud, it can lead to more flexibility in the workplace as well, as work can be done without the confines of the traditional desktop environment. Do be careful to limit data access, though, as employees should only have access to data that is immediately needed for their specific job description.

The Cloud for Application Access

All businesses rely on some kind of application, whether it’s an email client, point of sale software, or a simple productivity suite like Microsoft Office. This means you need multiple software licenses on each of your devices for using the applications. If you store them in the cloud, they can be accessed as they are needed by anyone with an account. This makes patching and updating software solutions much easier than in the past.

Your business can benefit from the cloud in countless ways. To find out where you can start, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE

Are your Mobile Security Settings Up to Par?

While you may not consider it at first, your mobile device has a sizeable amount of personally identifiable data on it – far more than should be left on an unsecured phone at any time. Fortunately, Google has added a considerable layer of protections to Android to assist users with their security. All a user has to do is know how to use them to their fullest potential.

Here, we’ll go over how to activate the built-in defenses to the Android system.

Confirm Google Play Protect is On

Google Play Protect is the security system that Android has to ensure that your mobile apps aren’t endangering your security, always scanning your device to spot threats. While it should be activated by default, it never hurts to check that this feature wasn’t switched off at some point. In Settings, go to the Security section and access Google Play Protect. If all the toggles are active, you have Google Play Protect on your side.

Activate Two-Factor Authentication

While this is actually a feature on your Google account and not native to your Android, it is still key enough to your Android’s security that it warrants inclusion. After all, we’ve established that your phone likely has a huge amount of sensitive data and personally identifiable information on it – adding another layer of protection only makes sense.

To activate two-factor authentication, access your Settings, and in the Google section, access Security and follow the steps provided to start up 2-Step Verification.

Limit Lock Screen Notifications

The fact that Android has the ability to display notifications on a user’s lock screen is extremely useful… until someone else sees something that they shouldn’t have as a notification pops up for an incoming message. Fortunately, the amount of information that these notifications display can be limited so that these messages remain more private. In your Settings, access Lock screen and press Notifications. From there, you can toggle whether or not your notifications show their content or just the application’s icon.

Pinning Your Screen

This one is a handy trick to know if you have a tendency to let other people use your phone with any regularity. If you’d rather not risk them digging into your other applications or files, you can ‘pin’ your screen to a particular application. This means that whoever is using your device is unable to use the other applications and functions that the phone has until you unpin it.

Pinning your screen is a fairly simple process, once you’ve activated this functionality. To do so, access your Settings, go to Biometrics and security, and press Other security settings. Scroll to the bottom of this page and make sure the Pin windows toggle is switched to on, then enter that menu item and turn the Ask for PIN before unpinning switch so it is also activated.

Once screen pinning is activated, you can then ensure that the app that you are allowing someone borrowing your phone to use is the only one they can use until the application has been unpinned. To pin usage down to a single app, open the application and press the Recent button. There will now be a pin icon on the screen, press it to pin that application. When you are ready to allow other apps to be used again, hold the Back and Recent buttons simultaneously. This will unpin your device, but also lock it, requiring your PIN to be input again before it can be used.

Keeping your phone safe can seem like a challenge at times, but properly utilizing its abilities can make it a lot easier and more secure.

Defining the Different Types of Collaboration

Collaboration is critical to the success of businesses both big and small, from the newest of startups to the grandest of enterprises. It’s true that there are very few businesses that are successful without collaboration, yet on an organizational level, there is a lot to consider when planning it out. It’s time to take a close look at what collaboration means for businesses, as well as how it can be leveraged in just about any form.

Defining Collaboration

Some people use the word “collaboration” in the same way as the word “communication,” but they are not necessarily synonymous. Collaboration is the act of people working together as a team toward a goal, while communication is the act of sharing thoughts and ideas with others. Communication facilitates collaboration, but doesn’t define it. Here are the various levels of collaboration that a business can use to its advantage:

● Simple Collaboration: In its most basic form, collaboration looks like quick communications initiated by instant messages or other similar technology. These kinds of tools can still be misused to create distractions, but they can expedite productivity and communication toward a specific goal.

● Document Collaboration: Document collaboration brings the previous concept and implements it on a document level, giving multiple users the ability to work on a single document toward an end goal. This can benefit the task at hand and make sure collaboration happens, whether your employees are in the same room or miles apart.

● Structured Collaboration: Meetings might not be everyone’s favorite thing about the workday, but it’s inevitable that they must happen at some point or another to ensure that people are working toward common goals. Meetings give users the ability to express their feelings or ideas on certain topics, and forms can be used to capture these ideas to gauge interest. By their nature, meetings are designed as collaborative exercises that promote transparency and communication, but only if there is structure to them.

Why Is Collaboration Important?

If a business takes measures to support collaboration in the workplace, it can expect to see improvements to productivity. When more people work on a project, you get more brain power and more thoughts or feedback on it. This can be effective for determining solutions to problems and thinking outside of what employees might normally consider. Collaboration tools can further aid in this process, giving employees more access to solutions and each other.

For information on how you can implement collaboration tools for your business, the professionals at Kite Technology can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Prepare to be Hacked: How to Minimize the Damage

Hacking is big business. It’s been estimated that cybercrime will cost the global economy $600 billion this year[i]. While some attacks will happen behind the scenes, 93% of them will happen right before your very eyes in the form of phishing attempts[ii].

Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as a password or account number, by impersonating a trustworthy source. These often arrive as emails requesting that you sign in to cloud storage services (OneDrive, Dropbox) to view an important invoice or past due bill. Moreover, they often appear to come from a trusted sender, or even a coworker. In the past six months, phishing attempts have increased by more than 60 %[iii], and 22% of employees have clicked at least one phishing link this year[iv].

If you do the math, it’s very clear that the odds are not in your favor. While threat prevention and Security Awareness Training are crucial pieces of your cybersecurity strategy, I’d like to give you one more piece of advice: Expect to be hacked.

It’s no longer enough to try to keep the bad guys out. We need to shift our focus to understanding what they can access when they do get in, and how we can limit their reach. To do that, we need to understand three key things: What data are we keeping, where are we keeping it, and who has access?

It has long been a practice of agencies to keep a permanent record of every business communication. As these records become digital, hackers gain access to years or even decades of non-public information, often long after these records serve a business purpose. As a result, The National Association of Insurance Commissioners is proposing that all Agencies adopt a strategy for reviewing and purging non-public information that is no longer needed[v]. I would encourage you to make a list of the type of data you’re collecting, determine how long it’s needed (by regulation, or business process), and make a plan for eliminating as much as possible to reduce your exposure.

I tend to find at least three treasure troves of client data in every Agency I meet: The Agency Management System, Email, and a shared location such as SharePoint, OneDrive, or a network share. Often, the data stored in email or the shared location is redundant, and only stored there for convenience. Even more alarming, this non-public information is often uploaded to a personal email or cloud account. In fact, 87% of Senior Managers have uploaded business files to personal accounts[vi].

Remember: What’s convenient for you is also convenient for the hacker. It’s important to keep non-public information in as few places as possible, so that monitoring and protection can be as focused and effective as possible. And it should never be permissible to store client data on personal accounts.

It’s also important to limit access to non-public information, so that a single breach will expose as little data as possible. Do all employees need access to client payment records? Do commercial lines employees need access to personal policies? There are numerous ways to limit access, and there’s certainly one that will work in your Agency. I encourage you to make a list of the roles and responsibilities of your employees. You can use that list to begin building a plan to limit the amount of non-public information that can be accessed and compromised by their accounts.

By expecting a security breach, turning our focus inward, and understanding how non-public information is stored and accessed, we can reduce the amount of data that a single breach can expose. Smaller breaches mean less data to sell to the next bad guy, and this hits the hacker where it hurts the most: The wallet.

[i] McAfee Economic Impact of Cybercrime, Feb 2018

[ii] Webroot 2018 Threat Report Mid-Year Update, Sept 2018

[iii] Webroot 2018 Threat Report Mid-Year Update, Sept 2018

[iv] Webroot 2018 Threat Report Mid-Year Update, Sept 2018

[v] NAIC Insurance Data Security Model Law MDL-668

[vi] Virtru Security Insights

Published in Primary Agent Magazine, February 2019.

Tech Tips: Neat Windows 10 Features

With Windows 10 being a major part of most business’ computing strategy, many people use it at their jobs each day. It has a lot of features not found on any other PC operating system, and more are added regularly. Today, we take a look at four features of Windows 10 that we think can really help your business.

Unpin from Start

Open your Start menu and prepare to be inundated with applications you NEVER use. If this is you, you can get rid of a lot of the stuff that only serves to distract you or your staff. All of these apps can be removed from your Start menu, and many can be uninstalled completely.

By right-clicking on the live tiles on your Start menu, you will be given several options. Two of those include, Uninstall and Unpin from Start. When going through these apps, you’ll find that some of the applications on the Start menu can’t be completely uninstalled, but they can all be removed.


If you aren’t much of a typist, you can dictate your text to your machine through the use of a microphone. This feature works in many applications, and within the OS itself. To turn this feature on, access the Settings menu and click on Time & Language > Speech > Related settings. Once there, you will look for Speech, inking and typing privacy settings. Simply toggle the speech settings on.

To utilize the integration, you’ll need to activate Cortana’s listening feature. Do this by pressing Windows Key + H whenever your cursor is in a text box.

Focus Assist

Focus can be fleeting as there are a litany of distractions that could keep you from being as productive as you need to be. Windows 10’s Focus Assist feature can turn your notifications off (based on priority). By going to Settings > System > Focus Assist, you can set automatic rules based on time, location, activity, and receive a summary of the notifications you’ve received when you toggle Focus Assist off.

Cortana, Decision-Maker

If you are the indecisive type, you may be wasting time thinking through inconsequential questions. Cortana has a quirky feature that has her flip a proverbial coin. Just type (or say) into Cortana “flip a coin”. This feature makes the decisions for you.

A lot of Windows 10 is built with the user in mind. It can assist with everything from productivity to simple decision-making.

The Benefits of a Hosted VoIP System

There are many reasons why a hosted Voice over Internet Protocol telephone solution (also known as hosted VoIP) is popular for small businesses. This is due to the many benefits that a small business can glean from such a solution, both in its security and its overall operations. We’ll review some of these benefits here.

How Hosted VoIP Keeps You Secure

By its very nature, a VoIP solution that is hosted in the cloud is going to provide you with a few bonuses over one that you would host yourself that specifically help make your business safer.

● You have experts on your side. A VoIP solution requires no small amount of maintenance to defy the many threats that could potentially corrupt it. Hosting your solution in-house means that you are responsible for keeping it secure and operational. However, having your VoIP solution hosted means that your provider is the one who has to carry out these tasks, freeing up your staff to focus on their work.

● Management and monitoring are easier. One of the biggest threats to your security is presented as you try to juggle too many disparate systems. A hosted VoIP solution is standardized, making it easier to manage and far simpler to catch security breaches that would otherwise come in through your communications.

● Twofold security benefits. In addition to consolidating your chances of being attacked, most VoIP solutions come packaged with comprehensive encryption to protect your conversations from peering eyes and ears. By encrypting each call’s data before it leaves your VoIP device and decrypting it only when the call has reached its destination, a VoIP call is that much more secure than it would be otherwise, protecting your business’ resources and assets.

Additional Benefits

Of course, while security is important for any business’ success, you have other things you need to worry about as well. Functionality is a pretty big one of these. Leveraging a hosted VoIP solution enables you to do a few additional things. For instance, a hosted VoIP solution can feature a few capabilities to help directly improve your operations, like the ability to forward a call to a mobile device, or to set basic phone settings more easily.

We would be more than happy to discuss what a hosted VoIP solution is capable of. Reach out to us at 855-290-5483 to learn more.

Tech Tips: Increase your Productivity with your Smartphone

It’s that time of the year when everyone is trying to get more done and make things happen as quickly as possible.

Mobile devices make this prospect much easier, as work can be done on-the-go in a flexible manner. Here are some tips to get the most out of your mobile devices post-holiday season.

Make Sure It’s Cleared with IT

Before you go all-out with your new mobile device, make sure that it’s been cleared with IT that you can set it up like your own workplace device. This means that the device will have to be compliant with your organization’s Bring Your Own Device policy. If it’s not, you risk the device becoming a hindrance to productivity, as well as your network’s security. Most important of all is that the data on the device could be put at risk.

Organize the Device

If there’s one thing that Android offers over iOS, it’s a higher level of customization that can give the user a much-needed step toward productivity. For example, your home screen can be turned into a mobile command center for the apps that you use the most. If you use your calendar frequently, then you can create a widget on the home screen that shows what you’re up to that particular day. This kind of control makes Android applications great options for functionality.

Limit Your Notifications

Notifications from all kinds of apps can get in the way of productivity, so you should turn off those that are unneeded. To do so, check for notification options in the settings. If the app itself doesn’t have any, you can always check if Android can help you keep the notifications at bay. If you long-hold the application’s icon, you’ll be able to block it on an application level. Android will block or silence the notifications, so they aren’t an issue.

Switch Gears

The modern workplace is well-known for tasks that disrupt the user and require them to switch to something else at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, the Android platform makes this less difficult as a whole. The Overview key can be double-pressed to snap between the last two applications you were using. If you have one of the apps open, you can hold down the Overview key to see the recent apps as previews. From this, you can select the split-screen option from the menu above them. Samsung devices make this process especially easy thanks to the Multi-window setting.

Regardless of the tool, be sure to invest some time getting to know your technology’s capabilities and how you can use them to be more productive.

Google Play Works to Reduce Ad-Fraud

What’s a smartphone without some apps to download to it? With millions of apps to choose from, developers might often have less-than-virtuous motives that put their users at risk for their own benefit. Recently, Google has removed 22 apps from the Google Play Store that were found to contain automated click-fraud scripts. We’ll delve into what these developers were up to with these fraudulent applications, as well as how they would affect the two-million users that downloaded them.

What Are the Apps?

Below you’ll find a list of what the affected apps are:

● Sparkle FlashLight

● Snake Attack

● Math Solver

● ShapeSorter

● Tak A Trip

● Magnifeye

● Join Up

● Zombie Killer

● Space Rocket

● Neon Pong

● Just Flashlight

● Table Soccer

● Cliff Diver

● Box Stack

● Jelly Slice

● AK Blackjack

● Color Tiles

● Animal Match

● Roulette Mania

● HexaFall

● HexaBlocks

● PairZap

What Was Wrong with Them?

SophosLabs detected a cache of apps that are outfitted with a feature they call “Andr/Clickr-ad” malware. These applications are designed to be as flexible as possible with the intention of contacting a common attacker-controller server to download an ad-fraud module. This happens every 80 seconds. The malware opens up a non-visible window that repeatedly clicks on ads. This makes the network look like it’s getting more traffic and generates fraudulent revenue for the developer.

Sophos didn’t identify a specific ad network, but the users who had downloaded these apps experienced a considerable amount of battery drain and an increase in data usage. One interesting note is that some of the ad traffic was identified as coming from iPhones, even though these apps generally only appear on Android devices. The traffic came from “Apple models ranging from iPhone 5 to 8 Plus and from 249 different forged models from 33 distinct brands of Android phones.” This kind of strategy was used to increase profits for advertisers who had to pay a premium for their ads to run on Apple devices. iOS versions of the apps, even those by the same developers, didn’t have malicious code integrated.

Only Download Legitimate Applications

One way to make sure you don’t have troubles with your downloaded apps is to make sure you only download legitimate applications. Here are some ways to determine if the app you want is legitimate:

● Read a lot of reviews: You can find out a lot about applications just by reading some of the reviews. Try to read eight or more reviews to make sure that the app is as functional as you think it is.

● Check the app permissions: Some applications need your permission in order to accomplish certain tasks. Always check these permissions before downloading anything. For example, if an application needs access to your text messages or camera, when it clearly shouldn’t be asking for them, you should think twice before downloading.

● Check the terms and conditions: It might be tempting to skip the terms and conditions, but you don’t want to do this for smartphone apps. Even if you try to read them, the legal language used might be unnerving. Still, the terms and conditions might hold some insights into how the data collected by the application is used.

● Research the developer: Software development is a competitive field, so people are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves and further their ambitions. Unfortunately, ambition doesn’t always lead to ethical business practices. Do some research into who developed the applications and determine if you can trust who created the tool you’re about to download.

The Google Play Store holds countless applications, so be on the lookout for any apps that threaten your device’s integrity. Just stick to your best practices and it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter and download something dangerous.

Want Proof That you Need to Monitor your Solutions?

When discussing the practice of monitoring solutions to prevent threats, it isn’t uncommon for many businesses to put these concerns on the back burner. However, every so often, an example comes around to help inspire businesses to take their monitoring seriously. This time, the example was the arrest of 24 spammers in October for scamming American citizens by impersonating Microsoft support staff members.

Working with Microsoft’s international Digital Crime Unit, the cyber cell of the Delhi police leveraged data analytics to take down illegal call centers that had been targeting Microsoft Windows users in the United States with fraudulent tech support scam attempts.

These scams were pretty predictable, if you know how a tech support scam usually takes shape. First, the employees of the call centers would send out a manufactured notification warning their targets that their systems had been compromised, with websites created for the purpose of supporting their false claims. Once a victim reached out to them, these fraudsters would charge a tech support fee of anywhere from $100 to $500 – but since there was no problem to solve, they would steal data and install actual malware once they were granted access.

However, an employee of Microsoft named Nripenda Kashyap was able to spot these activities through his monitoring systems and thereby send word to the DCU. This report was the catalyst that resulted in raids being conducted on 10 call centers and the arrest of 24 scammers, including the owners of these businesses.

What can we take away from all this?

The first lesson to be gleaned is that there will never be a time that a technology company like Microsoft will alert you of issues that your device is having. Unless you reach out to them for assistance and initiate first contact, you are on your own. The only time that you will legitimately be notified is if you have an IT provider there to help protect your infrastructure.

Secondly, the kind of monitoring systems that companies like Kite Technology offer aren’t something that your business can go without. The DCU filed a lawsuit claiming that tech support scams take 3.3 million users to the tune of $1.5 billion every year. This lawsuit was filed in 2014. How much do you think these numbers have increased since then?

Even if you try to monitor your solutions independently, there is a certain level of expertise that is necessary. Your computer will report dozens of perfectly normal, benign errors every day. An IT pro can spot the actual threat, while a layman might panic at the growing stream of issues.

If you’re intent on incorporating monitoring and maintenance into your IT management strategy, reach out to us first. Not only can we identify threats proactively, we can work to mitigate them before they have an effect.

For more information about our services give us a call at 855-290-KITE.

Tech Tips: How to Avoid a Cyber Attack

Did you know that almost 90 percent of small business owners feel they are completely safe from attack? The truth of the matter is that half of these businesses will eventually be proven wrong–they too can suffer from a cyberattack. Don’t risk becoming one of them! You should know now that there is no reason to.

The good news is that you don’t have to lie down and accept defeat at the hands of cybercriminals. If you take precaution now, the chances of your business being struck by a cyberattack are lessened considerably. If you fail to take action now, you could be among the organizations that are forced to close up shop as a result of a breach. It’s estimated that half of the companies that suffer from a cyberattack will be out of business within six months, and if you don’t prepare for it now, you could be next.

Here are a few tips that can help your business withstand cybersecurity attacks:

Implement updates: Updates aren’t meant to be an inconvenience, but it can sure seem like it at times. By properly maintaining your organization’s software, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding against enemy threats.

Involve your employees: Employees are one of the biggest entry points for cyberthreats, so it’s natural that you involve them in the conversation surrounding security. Take the time to train them on security best practices to ensure they don’t make a slip-up that costs your organization dearly.

Limit user access: If an employee has access to more data than they need to do their job properly, then your organization is potentially exposing more information than necessary to danger. Even if you trust your employees, there’s no reason anyone should have access to financial records or personal information unless they need it for their job, like human resources or accounting. Furthermore, you should have a separate Wi-Fi account made exclusively for your visitors. This keeps your network separate from others who have no business accessing it.

Maintain data backups: In a worst-case scenario, you’ll be glad to have data backups to help you get back in action following a data loss incident. Whether your data is stolen, destroyed, or corrupted, a data backup is critical to the success of any preventative security strategy. Be sure that your data backup solution is cloud-based, encrypted, and password-protected.

Does your business need security assistance or data backup services? KiteTech can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

Resolve to Update your Operating System: 4 Reasons to Adopt Windows 10

Let’s face it; it’s time to replace your workstation. You come into work one day, and a brand-new PC is at your desk. It’s likely smaller than your old one. You press the power button. A pleasant beep and the sound of a miniature category 2 hurricane whirls from the fans coming to life. A few swirling dots later, and you’re greeted with a beautiful image. You enter your password. A “Hi” flashes up on the screen, followed by, “We’re happy you’re here” and finally, “Getting things ready, please don’t turn off your PC.” Moments later, you are presented with a nice, clean desktop image, complete with a sleek black task bar. Your muscle memory kicks in. You click where the Start button used to be, click. “What? Where the heck is the Start Button?!”

User paranoia is real. As a veteran help desk manager, I see firsthand the anxiety created by computer replacements. My hope is this article will remove some paranoia by explaining why PC’s need to be replaced to begin with.

Windows 7 is a good operating system. It’s reliable, familiar, and still supported by Microsoft and third-party vendors. While these are all true, July 2019 will mark the 10-year anniversary of its launch. In January 2020, it will no longer be supported. The technological landscape has changed, and the two primary reasons for that change are: security and mobility.

Enter the more secure Windows 10. In their 2018 Threat Report[1], security firm Webroot declared Windows 10 twice as secure as Windows 7. Windows 7 continued the Microsoft tradition of releasing security updates on a weekly update schedule. IT administrators liked this because they could control the rollout of updates and block any which may have unintended consequences. However, this meant there could be up to a week’s delay before a fix would be made available to patch a security hole. Windows 10 resolves this by checking for updates every 17-22 hours and automatically deploys the updates with no opportunity for IT support intervention. More secure? Yes. There is more potential for something to go wrong when you come in the next day, as well. Unfortunately, this is the price we must pay for improving the protection of your systems and data.

Windows 10 is going to feel more familiar with time, partly because we’re getting accustomed to using smartphones. You might recall that Microsoft first tried to introduce a touch user interface (UI) with its “Metro” UI as part of Windows 8. Windows 8 and Metro never gained mainstream acceptance. But with more and more touchscreen laptops, tablets, and smartphones, Microsoft is highly motivated to build a single UI that works well with both a touchscreen and the conventional mouse and keyboard. To accommodate this transition, Windows 10 combined the tactile philosophy of Windows 8 with the ease of use of Windows 7.

When you click on the Start menu, you have icons which allow you to shut down and restart your PC, as well as access the PC settings, your Pictures, and your Documents. If you ever forget what they do, you can simply hover over them and a help box will appear. Another new feature of the Windows 10 Start menu is when opened, you can type the name of the application you want and select it from the results. There are also “Live Tiles” which update in real time for things like news, weather, recent emails, and photos.

Not only has Windows 10 become more secure, and more touch friendly, some would say the best improvement is Windows 10 loads and wakes from sleep much faster than Windows 7. This advantage may continue to increase, since Windows 10 is still being improved by Microsoft developers.

Lastly, Windows 10 is bringing a friend to the party. Her name is Cortana. Like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa, Cortana is a voice-activated virtual assistant. She can be summoned by saying, “Hey Cortana”. Cortana is my favorite virtual assistant out there. Not only does she do most of what the others do, but she has more personality. Try it out. Ask Cortana, “Open Word”, “What’s my schedule today?”, “What’s the weather?” or for a laugh, “What does the fox say?”. If you ask her, “What’s new in Windows 10?” she’ll return several YouTube video results for you to see all that is new.

One other key feature I have come to enjoy from Cortana are the “Heads up” emails. As an example, Cortana will review my emails and notice if I mention to someone that I’ll take care of something by Wednesday. Cortana will remind me on Tuesday with an email in the morning.

Hopefully your paranoia has subsided. Hopefully your focus is now less on “how will I get my work done in this new environment?” and more on “let’s see how this new environment can help me get my work done faster!” After all, your time is better spent on obtaining and retaining clients, making sure renewals are started far enough in advance, and being able to service that 4:45PM call on a Friday from the dealership about the new car your insured just picked up. While some things in the Insurance world will rarely change, technology will. With this better understanding of why it changes though, the next time it changes on you, my wish for you is that your response will be of curious hope, rather than paranoia.

[1] Htt-ps://www-cdn.webroot.com/9315/2354/6488/2018-Webroot-Threat-Report_US-ONLINE.pdf

Published in Primary Agent Magazine, December 2018

How Much Do I Need to Spend to Keep my Technology Humming?

In my last article, I provided advice on how healthy, operationally mature agencies should be investing their IT spend to achieve high performance. In this article, I will review how much you should expect to spend to maximize the value you get from your technology. I will be reviewing costs associated with six major categories that require IT investment: 1) agency management systems, 2) sales automation, 3) office productivity software, 4) user/desktop experience, 5) proactive management and support, and 6) security and compliance.

1. Agency Management Systems

Market leading agency management systems such as Applied Systems’ EPIC or Vertafore’s AMS360 will cost around $150 per month per user to obtain the comprehensive functionality of a modern agency. This includes features such as policy download, invoicing, claims tracking, sales/renewal management, and financial reporting.

Deploying these applications or migrating to a new system is a significant undertaking requiring a large investment in both labor and capital. For a successful agency management deployment, we typically see agencies spend in the neighborhood of $2,000 per employee in project implementation costs. Agencies who try to cut corners in order to reduce costs are often disappointed with the results. We strongly warn agencies NOT to cut corners, especially when it comes to data conversion preparation and employee training.

2. Sales Automation

Sales automation is generally included in the full featured industry leading products from Applied Systems and Vertafore. If you have one of these products, your out-of-pocket costs are covered above, but you still need to take the time to build workflows and train staff to deploy best practices. If you choose to go a different route and deploy a niche market product, you will likely see much lower rates for agency management. This might be the right solution for you depending on your needs and your willingness to complete the solution through other processes or third-party applications. Depending on the agency management system you select, some of these savings may need to be earmarked for a third-party sales management tool such as Salesforce.com along with consulting to successfully integrate the application and processes with your agency management solution.

3. Office Productivity Software

Generally, office productivity software is provided via Microsoft Office 365 subscription service. A typical agency requires business email and Office applications including Word and Excel. The Office 365 service bundles that include these components start with Office 365 Business Premium which is $12.50 per user per month. If you need data encryption and archiving, your subscription costs could rise to about $20.00 per user per month. Most agencies will require a technology consultant to effectively perform the initial deployment of Office 365. Also, since Office 365 data (email, documents, etc.) are not backed up by default, make sure you are utilizing a backup service so that your data is fully protected. This can add $2-$4 per user month. Finally, the cost will increase if you choose Office 365 bundles that include applications such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype, and Teams.

4. User/Desktop Experience

This will vary depending on the specific user requirements but for simplicity, we will consider two examples: a typical office-based user and a typical mobile user. Minimum requirements for a typical office-based user includes a business class PC with an Intel Core i5 class processor, 16 GB RAM, 250 GB Solid State hard drive, running the Windows 10 operating system. This system currently costs about $1000 plus approximately two hours of set up time for your technology provider. For high quality monitors that reduce eyestrain, provide ergonomic benefits, and improve user productivity, expect to pay about $400 for a pair of good quality 22-inch widescreen monitors suitable for business use.

The tool of choice for mobile employees is the 2-in-1 laptop. These devices are convertible from standard Windows 10 laptops to touchscreen tablets. Depending on features, these devices can vary greatly in price. A typical 2-in-1 device with a 13 to 15 inch screen provided by a major vendor (Dell, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft) will cost between $1300 and $1600. Our agency clients typically add a docking station, so they can seamlessly transition to their office environment. This usually adds about $300.

5. Proactive Management and Support

A competent technology provider is extremely valuable in advising you on your technology investment and keeping your agency running effectively. Rates for such service can vary greatly depending on how comprehensive the services are. Proactive, high quality services cost about $100 per user per month (excluding backup/disaster recovery services). At this rate, your provider should be conversant in agency operations and should provide strategic technology reviews. Also included should be help desk support and basic security products such as spam filtering, endpoint protection, computer updates, firewalls, and gateway security. Finally, they should interact on your behalf with your other technology vendors such as phone system supplier, internet service provider, and agency management system vendor.

Backup and disaster recovery costs can vary depending on agency requirements from simple “file-based backup solutions to very expensive high availability alternatives. An in-between solution that will keep your data safe and secure with an “image-based” backup of your systems costs between $300 and $600 per month depending on the amount of data.

6. Security and Compliance

This area is somewhat immature and evolving as the threats, compliance requirements and tools all continue to change. Some of the services you should expect to be procuring include: regular security assessments, security awareness training for your employees, mobile device security, and data encryption. Managed Security services are typically an add-on service costing approximately $ per month.

I hope this overview gives you a sense of the costs associated with key aspects of your agency’s technology. Strategically planning the best use of your technology dollars will go a long way in improving your agency’s productivity and make you more profitable.

5 Cloud Apps Small Businesses Should Love

Businesses of all types have looked to the cloud as a way to receive the goods and services they could use to improve their ability to create revenue, while not having to lay out huge chunks of capital in which to get the dynamic computing infrastructure. Today, developers are creating useful cloud-based applications that not only provide growing businesses the resources they need, they increasingly give workers flexibility, through their inherent accessibility. Today, we will take a look at five cloud-based applications that can really benefit a small business.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks has been a major accounting and payroll software for some time, but Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks, has developed the platform in the cloud. QuickBooks Online allows users to create professional invoices, track sales and expenses, manage accounts, automatically download bank transactions, and schedule and send invoices to clients. QuickBooks Online also provides users the ability to work from thousands of different devices, while also providing integration with over 300 other cloud-based applications. Managing your organization’s finances has never been so simple, and affordable.


Evernote has moved to the cloud. Like QuickBooks, the Evernote note-taking app has been around for some time, but now that it’s a cloud-based application, users are seeing a stronger, faster, more robust solution than they had before 2017’s migration. Since the Evernote interface allows users to save and archive information found online, it is very much personal information. Evernote has added encryption to their platform, securing people’s information, and providing a trustworthy and feature-rich productivity application completely hosted in the cloud.


Think about how many documents you’ve signed just this year? Imagine if you could forgo the meetings, the appointments, and the expense of travel by just signing official documents through an app? Whether you are making an offer, closing an agreement, or providing access, DocuSign is the right solution for you. Allowing people to remotely sign official documents makes it possible for people who need to get more done faster to do so.


Slack is a communications platform that provides users integrated options to enhance project management and productivity in the cloud. Slack includes several features designed to help projects move faster, including person-to-person private message boards and instant messaging. You can get everyone on a project on the same page. This enables you to produce more work rooted in success than would be possible without the application.


Asana is a project management software that allows teams to collaborate by setting projects parameters and milestones and then collaborating to meet those milestones. By giving teams a way to organize, meet their deadlines, share files, and be more pragmatic with their time, more can get done, producing more revenue growth possibilities.

This is a short list of extremely useful applications that work for small businesses, but only you know what business-line applications will work best for your business. If you are looking for a solution to a specific problem, the IT professionals at Kite Technology have the knowledge and expertise necessary to help you choose the right solution for your needs. Call us today at 855-290-KITE for more information.

Are you Strategically Investing in Your Technology?

Working with scores of small and mid-size insurance agencies over the last twelve years has given me an interesting vantage point to compare agencies. I have noted the differences between healthy, growing agencies and those that are stagnant. One of the differentiators between the two groups is their approach to technology. Well run agencies, both large and small, see technology as a valuable investment to be leveraged for the improvement of their business. Those agencies that are struggling usually view technology as an expense that must simply be controlled and minimized. I have watched this differing perspective have a huge impact on agencies’ experiences. As you might expect, agencies who invest wisely in technology have more secure and reliable systems. But good technology investments also extend to better productivity which can improve sales and reduce service expenses. The result is higher profits and greater agency valuation. A healthy perspective on technology can even help your culture and employee engagement.

This article is the first of a two-part series. In this article, I will provide a perspective on how healthy, operationally mature agencies are investing their IT spend to achieve high performance. In the next article, I will provide some parameters for how much you should expect to spend to maximize the value you get from your technology.

For clarity, I am going to review five major categories of IT investment and discuss how healthy agencies approach each. The five categories are: 1) agency management systems, 2) office productivity software, 3) employee experience, 4) security and compliance and 5) proactive management and support.

Agency Management Systems

As your primary line of business application, your agency management system will have a profound impact on your operation. Healthy agencies are investing in proven agency management systems from vendors who have deep experience and a track record for deploying and supporting agency management systems. A complete agency management solution includes more than the traditional accounting, workflow and customer relationship management modules. As client expectations evolve, the tools must evolve as well.

Operationally mature agencies understand that state of the art sales automation tools allow them to differentiate from their competitors as their target clients shift to a younger generation with different expectations for conducting business. They know that younger clients have a higher expectation for serving themselves, so online tools that allow them to pay their premium, request auto ID cards, submit a claim and review their coverages are necessities. Likewise, as producers skew younger, there is greater need for quality mobile versions of the tools that allow producers to manage their accounts, quote and close business. Whether these additional tools are provided by your agency management vendor or a third party, a cohesive solution is a must, so these modules need to integrate well. Most thriving agencies already have their agency management system “in the cloud” hosted by the application vendor. If your agency still has its management system running locally on premise, then you should be planning for the migration to the cloud now.

Office Productivity Software

This category includes software for email, spreadsheets, presentations, document management, collaboration, as well as voice communications. Most agencies are committed to Microsoft for these solutions given the needs to integrate email and documents with their agency management system. Microsoft continues to innovate to provide a more feature-rich, dependable suite of solutions. Healthy agencies are moving to Office 365 or already there in order to get the benefits of the newest features in the Microsoft Office suite, facilitate the “work anywhere” capabilities of Office 365, and reduce their backend infrastructure costs for servers. These agencies also understand that their phone system is a critical part of office productivity and facilitates that “work anywhere” goal. They are re-evaluating the features of their phone system to ensure it has the flexibility to accommodate their workflows irrespective of where their employees are physically located.

Employee Experience

In some respects, not much has changed in user requirements in the last decade. Typical employees in an agency, including CSRs and accounting personnel, still generally require fully functional workstations. Healthy agencies are investing in multiple monitors for efficiency, solid state hard drives for fast performance, and plenty of computer memory. Executives and producers are investing in laptops or combination tablets/laptops such as the Microsoft Surface to get the benefits of a full featured desktop without sacrificing mobility. Successful agencies also stay current on desktop hardware, replacing PCs approximately every four years. They make sure they are using a supported Windows operating system. This means they are well aware that Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 14, 2020 and they are working now with their IT solution provider to upgrade to Windows 10 before they are out of compliance.

Security and Compliance

The fourth category requiring IT investment is constantly evolving. This is the area of security and compliance. Security threats are growing as are the toolsets and best practices for combatting them. As new regulations kick in at the state and federal levels, the requirements for compliance continue to increase as do the penalties for noncompliance. I advise agencies to work with security providers that are in tune with the specific regulations affecting the insurance industry, are forward-thinking, and are nimble enough to adjust to the changes in security regulations, threats, and tools.

Proactive Management and Support

The fifth and final category is proactive management and support. Most high performing agencies recognize that their IT dollar can be stretched if they engage a solution provider to provide proactive management and support of their users and technology rather than doing it themselves. Some of the attributes you should look for in a quality IT provider are a proactive approach to technology management, competence and urgency when issues arise, and a clear understanding of your agency needs. It certainly helps if your provider is a trusted advisor with strong credentials in the first four categories. Then, your solution provider can be the glue that binds all of these needs together.

Properly evaluating the value of any investment requires an understanding of both the costs and the benefits. Above we discussed maximizing the benefits by making wise technology choices. In the next article, we will look at the cost side of the equation. Stay tuned.

Telecommuting Tips and Tools

When asked about telecommuting, the practice of allowing employees to work from home, many agency owners may acknowledge the benefits but will more frequently focus on their reservations. Some of the main concerns expressed are that telecommuting reduces collaboration, challenges our ability to maintain a consistent culture, and makes it difficult for management to oversee the employees and their work products. Historically, for many jobs it was simply impractical to take the work (and the tools to complete it) home with you. But as today’s technology continues to evolve in a way that addresses most of these concerns, many of today’s agencies are quickly adopting the practice of telecommuting and doing so with great results.

Before reviewing some of the technologies that make telecommuting feasible, let’s first admit that the stakes are high. Agencies that can accommodate telecommuting have a huge advantage over those that cannot. These agencies can attract and retain employees with little regard for where they live. They appeal to prospective and current employees who prefer the convenience of working from home. Such agencies can permit employees to be more flexible with work hours, since a commute is unnecessary at the beginning and end of the shift. Agencies accommodating telecommuting can enter new sales territories without the expense and distraction of opening a remote office. They can expand staffing without introducing the cost and inconvenience of adding office space. And finally, they can selectively permit employees to work from home for a variety of reasons such as treacherous driving conditions, the need to accept a home delivery, or the need to stay home with a sick child.

So, what are some of the technologies that your agency can easily utilize for effective and productive telecommuting?

  1. Document Management– Hopefully this is an afterthought, by now. For agencies that have been paperless for years, they will take for granted that CSRs can obtain and process their work regardless of whether they are in the office. For those that are still pushing a significant amount of paper, this could be a show stopper and render the rest of this list irrelevant.
  2. Access to Agency Management System– Customer data has become so easy to organize and manage from within Agency Management Systems that agencies now depend on them to do business. Therefore, if an agency expects to adopt telecommuting practices, the Agency Management System must be accessible from anywhere in the world. Most new or updated Agency Management Systems on the market these days offer just that, so agents can effectively manage customer information without being in the agency’s headquarters.
  3. Modern Phone System– Even office phone systems are becoming more flexible. With voice over IP technology (VoIP), a remote worker can simply use the Internet to connect a telephone at home to the phone system in the office. Furthermore, with technologies such as softphones, with the right app, any smartphone can act as an office phone, performing all the same calling, transferring, and voicemail functions as a standard office phone.
  4. Web Meeting Applications – Face-to-face meetings have been a popular argument against the concept of remote workers. Now, with applications such as WebEX, Skype, and GoToWebinar, companies are effectively simulating face-to-face meetings over the Internet. If you are looking to do two-way collaboration with a small-to-medium sized group, WebEx and Skype are perfect for meetings. If you are interested in broadcasting to a large audience and require only one-way communication, GoToWebinar is a quality tool for delivering webinars.
  5. Collaboration Spaces – It is a frequent requirement that co-workers share files with one another in a common space, and there are robust platforms which accommodate just that. Services like SharePoint and Google Drive provide the same functionality as a traditional shared drive on a server, but do not require participants to be in the same building behind the same network.
  6. Conversation / Messaging Tools – In a shared office, it is easy enough to speak with co-workers by simply approaching their desk. With instant messaging tools like Slack and Yammer, you can quickly reach any of your co-workers as though you were sitting in the same room together.
  7. Reporting Tools – Another common opponent of the concept of telecommuting is accountability for work performance. Companies are now able to solve that problem by using tools that report data based on employee output. For example, my company uses a product called Brightgauge which generates statistics on how trouble tickets a technician solves and how much time a technician spends working. Organizations in any industry can make use of this kind of tool to measure a remote worker’s productivity and on-task hours.

If your agency hasn’t developed a plan or strategy for telecommuting, it may be helpful to start thinking about what that might look like. This includes determining what positions can accommodate telecommuting and what percentage of the time you are willing to allow an employee to work from home. It will also be imperative to have a process for evaluating your telecommuters’ productivity and success. Whether telecommuting is a big part of your agency’s present or future, adoption of the above technologies and a well-thought-out strategy are both elements of the modern agency. How does your agency stack up?

Article published in Primary Agent Magazine, April 2018

Creating a High-Performance Culture

My first job after college was as an engineer at an electric utility company. When I had been there a couple of years, I remember George, a crusty veteran supervisor, lamenting, “You know, Greg, we hire bright, hungry, capable people and within two short years they’re just as mediocre as everyone else around here!” Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind. First, I vowed that if I ever had the opportunity, I was going to do something about that. My second thought: “Wait a minute! Did George just take a swipe at me?”

Fast forward another decade to 2005 when a business partner and I started Kite Technology Group to help insurance agencies with their technology. I finally had my chance to create the kind of company culture I wanted. Below are seven insights I have discovered about creating a high performing team. Some were learned through the gracious advice of mentors. But too often, the lessons were learned the hard way, by paying the price for my mistakes. My hope is that some of these ideas will spare you the pain of learning the hard way.

Permit Failure

Until your team members have the freedom to fail, they don’t really have your trust. As long as they are looking over their shoulder waiting for you to swoop in and tell them how to solve a problem, they are not accountable for the results. You are. Give your employees the freedom to fail.

Keep Score

Have you ever watched kids playing pickup basketball? You can tell right away whether they are playing a game or just shooting around. The teamwork and intensity is heightened when the score is being kept. The same is true in your business. Every employee deserves to know whether they are winning or losing. If your employees don’t know what success looks like in their job, then you have work to do to create their personal scoreboard.

Feedback isn’t Just for Annual Reviews

People crave feedback. We ALL want to know how we are doing and that our contributions are noticed. Take the time to informally praise behavior at the time it occurs. I have found that employees are much more open to constructive criticism when we as leaders have taken the time to praise their efforts when they do a good job.

Separate Annual Reviews from Compensation Adjustments

There is no question that compensation needs to be linked to performance. The problem comes when the two are so tightly coupled that the review is the context for providing a raise. This creates a dynamic whereby the review becomes a negotiating tactic between employee and employer to justify the increase. This tension costs you any opportunity to have an honest conversation about deficiencies and employee development. I like to do all annual wage adjustments at the same time of year. It makes budgeting easier. On the other hand, I try to spread annual performance reviews throughout the year to better distribute the workload. Decoupling the review from the raise makes for better performance reviews AND for more timely wage adjustments.

Keep Your Employees Busy

Employees want to know that what they do matters. Nothing is more discouraging in the workplace than boredom. If employees do not have meaningful work to do, then they cannot help but feel unimportant. Of course, being busy for the sake of being busy isn’t the answer either. Take the time to make sure employees continually have meaningful work to do. Your agency will get the benefit of the productivity and the employee gets the message that they are necessary.

Employ the Power of Triads

Does this scenario sound familiar? Sally and John have a disagreement. They both come to you separately to state their case. Now you are in the middle and essentially own the problem. The way to avoid this situation is through a triad, a three-way conversation. This keeps you accountable to delivering the same message to both parties and ensures they are on the same page, as well.

Admit Your Mistakes

Leaders are human. We make mistakes. We know it and our employees know it. When we admit our mistakes, we tell others that it is safe to admit their mistakes. Such vulnerability and authenticity is the first step to improving our performance.

I hope you find these seven insights useful. Commit to making just a couple of improvements in your culture and you will be well on your way to making 2018 a more successful year. Best wishes.

Three Trends in Cloud Computing Affecting Insurance Agencies

The shift from premise-based to cloud-based technology is well underway. In fact, it’s likely that your agency already has adopted cloud solutions in one form or another. Here are three trends in cloud computing that are affecting agencies and some thoughts on how your agency should respond to each.

Agency Management

Many agencies already have their agency management system in the cloud, since the three systems with the greatest market share (Vertafore’s AMS360 and Applied’s EPIC and TAM) all have had hosted versions for several years. Hosted agency management permits providers to streamline product support and simplify the enhancement and patch processes.

For those of you considering a move from a premise-based agency management system to a hosted agency management system, there are a few factors to weigh. If you are considering AMS360 your options are simplified as Vertafore only offers AMS360 as a hosted application. For those considering EPIC, you have a choice between premise based or Applied’s hosted environment. We usually recommend having Applied host EPIC.

Exceptions to this rule exist for some very large agencies or agencies that already have a significant investment in recent server hardware and software capable of running EPIC. For agencies running TAM in a local environment, we generally recommend staying local until and unless you migrate to a different agency management system.

There is one caution when evaluating a move of your agency management system to the cloud: make sure you understand the full cost of the move. We frequently see agencies overestimate the savings. No doubt, less investment will be necessary for server hardware and support when moving your agency management to the cloud. But agencies often falsely assume that their Microsoft Office costs and local user support needs will go away, only to find out differently after committing to the migration.

Office 365

Of the approximately ninety insurance agencies that we serve, 25% currently use Office 365. This trend is expected to expand rapidly due to the economic and functional advantages of Office 365 subscriptions. Our estimates indicate that over half of our agency clients will have Office 365 by the end of 2018.

Office 365 provides significant benefits including version upgrades at no additional charge and accessibility to your Microsoft Office apps including Word, Excel, and Outlook from any device wherever you have a web connection. Some versions of Office 365 integrate features that greatly enhance collaboration such as Skype for video conferencing, Sharepoint for document management, and the new Microsoft Teams application, a chat-based workspace for businesses.

Before you replace an Exchange Server with new hardware or make a big investment in a new version of Microsoft Office, check out the benefits of Office 365. It’s likely the best choice for your ongoing email and Office needs.

Data Backup

If you still have agency management, email, or other important files stored locally, then cloud-based data backup should be very important to you. Many of you will remember the days when backing up data offsite meant popping a tape out of a drive and taking it home. Nowadays that process is automated by systems that encrypt and securely send your backup data to a cloud-based repository through your Internet connection. As insurance professionals, you, of all people, know that disasters can and do happen. So, unless all your critical data already resides in the cloud or, God forbid, you still have that old tape drive, you should have a strategy that backs up data offsite.

Even if your data is already offsite, you need to make sure it is being backed up to a different location. The cloud has actually complicated backup requirements because it is common now for agency data to be dispersed to different sites for your agency management system, email, and critical files. Make sure you thoroughly quiz your IT service provider to ensure the security of ALL your critical data regardless of where it resides.

Agencies who have moved agency management and email to the cloud are well on the way to being “fully in the cloud”. But there are still other “local” considerations. File storage, user access/security, and management of printers/scanners still need to be addressed. Cloud solutions are in varying degrees of maturity to address these needs, as well. Now, more than ever, it is important to lean on expert advice. The situation reminds me of a funny Dilbert cartoon:

Pointy-haired boss tells Dilbert he has good news – they just won a huge bid to build a wireless network. Dilbert explains that they don’t know how to build a wireless network. Not to be dissuaded, pointy-haired boss asks rhetorically, “How hard could it be to not install wires?”

Similarly, some agencies assume that the absence of back office infrastructure they can see and feel greatly simplifies their needs. You may not be able to touch your servers when your stuff is in the ether, but it still exists and needs support.

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.