Breaking Down 5 IDC FutureScape Predictions from Worldwide Future of Customer Experience in 2024
By Scott Draeger, SVP of Product Marketing & Vertical Solutions at Smart Communications
I love the end-of-the-year predictions from analysts. It helps me frame the challenges and opportunities of a new year. While many analyst firms offered insights for 2024, the way IDC organizes predictions in their IDC FutureScape report makes them actionable.
This article shares Smart Communications’ view of five predictions that are slated to be major market trends impacting customer communications and customer experience in 2025 and 2026. If you subscribe to IDC’s research, I encourage you to read “IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Future of Customer Experience 2024 Top 10 Predictions (doc #US50111423, October 2023).”
This report is authored by leading IDC analysts in the customer communications management (CCM), content intelligence, and customer experience areas. Authors include Marci Maddox, Sudhir Rajagopal, Mary Wardley, and others. With big predictions slated for 2025 and 2026, innovative companies are already making moves. If your organization wants to be at the right place at the right time when these predictions turn to trends, you need to generate RFPs, RFIs, and RFQs as soon as possible. Let’s explore what five of these predictions mean for you and your business while you still have time to act.
Conversations Undergird All Experiences in 2025
Each customer's experience is part of their entire relationship with your brand, making it vital that your systems understand the context of each customer conversation. This is the most imminent prediction, expected to happen in 2025, which means you need to prepare now. Look at how your business uses customer communications software and forms automation solutions to keep the customer experience conversational. With SmartCOMM™’s conversation history feature and SmartIQ™’s workflow automation, you can keep your story straight as transactions move across various departments within your organization.
Contextual Outcomes Dominate CX in 2026
This will require you to act upon all the customer data you're collecting and generating in new ways. Your customers know you collect data on their experiences with your organization. By 2026, leading organizations will use this data to customize experiences based on product usage, sentiment, and other factors. This means your customer communications, data collection methods, and other iterative interaction software must be adaptable to leverage this data. Collecting data with SmartIQ allows enterprises to seamlessly move from traditional paper-based forms to streamlined, contextual digital experiences.
Data Underpins Next-Gen CX in 2026
Organizations are expected to deliver some large returns to cover their Customer Data Platform (CDP) investments in 2024. Moving to a new CDP creates an opportunity to escape the constraints of legacy CCM systems from the early 2000s. As customer data becomes granular, and more is analyzed by AI, it becomes easier to create personalized omnichannel communications and streamline business processes. We recommend leveraging customer data to:
- Improve your customer-facing processes
- Empower customer preferences
- Personalize interactions
- Automate back-end processes, and
- Reduce customer effort
Customer Communications Go Dynamic in 2026
If your competition is farther along in their digital transformation efforts than you, you put customer retention, loyalty, and trust at risk. Print documents turn digital because customers demand contextual videos, interactive charts, easier sharing, and transaction filtering. As experiences become conversational, communications become an invitation to inbound interactions, new sales opportunities, and self-service opportunities.
Value Streams Trump Experiences in 2026
In the very near future, the concept of “value parity” will increasingly shape customer interactions by acknowledging the value of the data exchanged by all sides of the transaction. Your customers know their data is highly valuable, so they’re expecting to get something valuable in return. They will expect rewards, special offers, and discounts in exchange for the data and access they provide. Additionally, you’ll need to be prepared for consumers to push for maximum penalties when they feel their data is not being managed or protected with their best interests in mind.
All five of these predictions are slated to turn into major market trends that impact customer communications and customer experiences in 2025 and 2026. From a practical standpoint, the average RFP process can take six to 12 months. Buying cycles easily burn through a year if your technology vendor is difficult to negotiate with. Implementation times often consume six months of planning after the purchase is made, more if your IT team must provision hybrid cloud resources or procure on-prem environments outside of the existing budget or capacity. Furthermore, by charging full price during implementation with services billed separately on top, you'll struggle to meet the trends of 2025 and 2026.
About the Author
Scott Draeger is the SVP of Product Marketing and Vertical Solutions at Smart Communications. With a passion for collaboration, he focuses on how communications can be better for the recipient and perform better for the business. He started as a document designer using a collection of hardware and software technologies, before moving to the software side of the industry. His broad experience includes helping organizations improve heavily regulated customer communications all around the world.