2018 Year Roundup

Monday, December 31, 2018
Jenni Stablein

It’s been an exciting journey this past year exploring what exactly CRM is all about. As a small crew of artists with an interest in tech and startups, we had no real preconceived notion of CRMs.

In 2018 our goal was to make space on the internet for CRM that was anything but boring and the furthest away from migraine inducing. Because why should it be a trip down to hell and back simply trying to learn more about CRM and surrounding work apps?

The thing is, we need CRMs. Not just for companies either—CRMs work for people beyond sales, customer service, and marketing—they’re also for your personal relationships, your career opportunities, budding freelance networks—heck, it can even be to stay on top of your kid’s little league schedule.  

Keeping that in mind, we invite you to dive into some of our favorite things we discovered in the CRM industry this year.

Hottest CRM trends in 2018

It’s impossible to look over one very important trend in the CRM industry. The Gmail CRM—in 2018, CRM comes to you in your inbox.

Already a hit with their over 1 billion active user community, Gmail finds a new fan in CRM. This year we’ve seen most CRM companies, light and heavyweights alike, repositioning just how and where to offer their product. Streak CRM is a fully integrated Gmail CRM, literally living right inside your inbox, while Copper is another Google fan favorite. But really at the end of the day, most CRMs attempt to dabble in Gmail with sidebar or Chrome extension integrations.

Down the golden-bricked road of our CRM journey, in addition to Gmail CRM, we discovered some off-kilter types known as non-traditional CRM. These are your project management tools, contact relationship management platforms, personal follow up services, and more. While they don’t fit the traditional bill of a CRM, these represent lightweight options that offer an excellent alternative to the more robust variety. Perfect for the ‘test the temperature of the water before diving in’-type.

Keeping with the trend of CRMs coming to you, we see an even more open future in web-based integration service Zapier and IFTTT, Zapier’s free counterpart. The two companies act as a mediator between you and the internet, getting all of your apps and devices working together.

This is extremely helpful for the CRM community as it offers the ability to connect hundreds of apps to any given CRM for even further automation of tasks. For example, Zapier can connect HubSpot with other useful work apps like Slack, Mailchimp, Gmail, Gravity Forms, Intercom, and literally 95 others. And that’s just one CRM integration variation!

Really what these services allow for is the space for computers to do what they do best so that humans can focus on what they do best. Because building quality customer relationships is not an automated task, but some of the tedious tasks going into it can be.

Voice and translation services are on the up and up

Voice assistants—no longer reserved solely for Dads who want to show off Siri by asking her where the nearest Chinese restaurant is—bridge the gap even further between automation and working relationships.

In 2018, virtual assistants have moved beyond consumer apps like Siri or Alexa and into the realm of intelligent business-centric assistants.

Smart business assistant ventures like and’s Omega created voice-induced ‘FOMO’ for the CRM industry, with leading tech and CRM giants Salesforce, Microsoft, and Amazon investing in one company or the other.

Major investments not only showcase a general interest but also indicates a shift in the world’s top technology companies focusing their efforts on developing more human-friendly systems that cater to user and customer needs.

Speaking of human-friendly, let’s talk Unbabel: an AI-powered human translation service that pretty much makes Sci-Fi author, Douglas Adams’ ‘Babel Fish’ (a tiny living fish that when placed in the ear translates any language) a reality. The language translation platform uses a combination of neural machine translation and real human translators to provide more fluent and accurate customer service in 28 different languages. and are conversation tracker platforms that enter into phone conversations the same way a human would, except they record and transcribe all content, add smart suggestions for action items and even provide summaries of conversations.

Whether it’s smart assistants, language translation services, smart conversation trackers, or automated data entry—the CRM industry is chock full of some of the coolest AI technology on the market right now.

Possibly one of the most important trends we’ve discovered in the CRM world is that CRMs are now coming to you, where you want to work, and where you already work.

2018 in full bloom

Amidst all the app and software chaos lies another important element of that represents the foundation of work, and that is Bloom.

Bloom is where we explore topics on themes related to the self, teams, startups, and customers.

We report on topics that pique our curiosity and learn about them alongside you as we all walk down this crazy path that is life.

Topics like stress: is it good or bad for you? Should you try a meditation app? Or, maybe you spend too much time involuntarily on screens—there are glasses for that!

We investigate theories that ask big, and sometimes very simple, questions. For example, have you ever considered that you may have hired your coffee to wake you up this morning? Or ever wondered if you could get away with working less than 8, or even 6, hours a day? Or maybe you want to learn how to be vulnerable or use that short attention span to your advantage?

Basic concepts like practicing human empathy to build a successful product remind us how certain principals of work will always apply while others, like growth hacking or practices in a remote work lifestyle showcase that the mold of work is ever-shifting. Because, after all, there’s no bloom without at least a little bit of growth.

2018 in review

As we look back on our library of interests from 2018, perhaps one of the most exciting things to report from this year is that yes, CRMs are actually for everyone. They’re not just for that distant (or not-so-distant) relative you know that works in ‘buisness’, but you actually have no idea what they do.

CRMs are for creatives, weirdos, and outcasts too. We can confirm.

What we hope for in 2019 is to continue building a space to learn more about CRM and to explore all the different types of relationships that come with it—whether that be work relationships, customer relationships, or the relationship with one’s self.

All this in a web space where you won’t feel like your eyes are being sucked out of their sockets. Explore the future of CRM with us and cheers, to the future of work!