Is a recession coming? How no-code can help consultants during economic downturns

Is a recession coming? How no-code can help consultants during economic downturns

Over the last few years, global economic uncertainty has increased. The coronavirus pandemic marked one of the most significant shocks to the global system of our lifetime, inflation is surging, and the war in Ukraine is having broad effects around the world.

While there are some people asking if a recession is coming, we want to discuss how the consulting industry can get prepared and weather any future economic storms.

How a recession may impact consulting firms

Using the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis as a guide, if a recession is coming we expect it to to affect the consulting industry in several ways:

  • Market contraction: Businesses will cut nonessential spend, resulting in a significant reduction in global consulting spend (20-50%)
  • Highly varied impact: Consulting spend will be seen as part of the problem in certain areas, and part of the solution in others. For example:
    - Travel, hospitality, and energy will be hit hard, while tech, media, and public sector will sustain
    - Growth strategy engagements will be shelved, while expense management and tech/ops will increase
    - Large, blue chip firms will weather the storm as clients flock to safe bets
    -Certain niche capabilities (e.g., expense management, remote work specialists) will become invaluable
  • Investment in tooling: Consultancies and clients will invest in R&D and technology, with a particular focus on cloud-based tools, to operate lean

In moments of upheaval and economic uncertainty, clients will look for sure bets with proven ROI. That's why consultants who offer innovative paths to operate at lower costs without sacrificing strategic vision will be seen as invaluable partners.

If a recession is coming, look to no-code software development

Digital has been the fastest growing consulting segment of the past decade. Most major consulting firms have developed digital capabilities to help clients transform IT and launch new ventures through multi-million dollar and multi-year engagements. A recession will provide pressure on both sides in this space: companies will look to software to do more with less through automation, but IT budgets will no longer support massive projects.

No-code software development offers a unique solution to this dual-challenge, enabling custom applications to be built at 10x the speed, for a fraction of the cost of conventional methods. This opens up software development to an entirely new class of long-tail software startups.

This approach is different from the previous wave of offshoring. Rather than lowering the cost of an hour of developer time, no-code platforms increase the productivity of that hour. Platforms like Bubble.io (our tool of choice) provide a software environment as a service, integrating best-in-class infrastructure with a visual building interface. The result is project timelines reduced from years to weeks.

How consultancies can build apps without coding for clients

This unique capability has immense value in a constrained world, and can provide opportunities to deliver immediate ROI for clients.

Below are 5 examples we have seen with our consulting partners:

  1. Addressing urgent client needs in a remote world: The pandemic disrupted physical operations and many firms and their clients are now working in a remote or hybrid capacity. These are new opportunities for bespoke digital tools to help connect remote workers, move data to the cloud, and manage processes.
  2. Reducing client IT cost: Many clients will face the challenge of downscaling or shutting down planned IT projects. Rather than limiting feature development, no-code allows for a dramatically lower cost base for the same output. This can serve as a much-needed lifeline for important work.
  3. Automation to rationalize costly operations: Expansion during bull markets often leads to inefficient processes that are prime for standardization and automation. Building software to unlock cost savings (and putting fees at risk to take a share of the value) becomes a win-win for clients, and no-code lowers the threshold for effort required to get to a positive ROI.
  4. Explore new business models to defend or expand: These “new venture” projects have been on the rise in the age of disruption as enterprises look to innovate to stay a step ahead. In many cases they will be the first to hit the chopping block. However, for clients facing an existential threat to their business model, they will be forced to look for new opportunities. No-code allows for 5-10x the number of iterations in a given time period, to help validate and scale new models.
  5. Diagnostic tools to help clients plan: Consulting firms have been investing in software diagnostic tools for the past decade. They present insights in a more dynamic way than PowerPoint, expand a consultancy’s audience, and lead to engagement leads after pinpointing areas for improvement.

No-code in action: Consenna driving revenue growth for HP

Increasing revenue is top of mind for any sales organization, and UK-based Consenna works with global tech manufacturers to design and deploy promotional campaigns to this effect.

Airdev has worked with Consenna for several years, and in that time has deployed more than 10 programs using our no-code approach. Each engagement requires 2-4 weeks to launch an alpha version of the platform, followed by multiple iterations put into play to calibrate the program.

Most recently, HP launched the “HP for Education” initiative to help 30 thousand schools across the UK upgrade their hardware and access a marketplace of solutions from third-party providers. The shift to remote work and schooling has resulted in a large increase in need for hardware, and this program is helping schools make the transition. Read the case study here.

“In our work, we always need to make sure we deliver on our promises. We had had agonizing trouble with this in the past with technology builds, since overrun is rampant. It has been an absolute life-saver to be able to build and iterate quickly with this no-code approach.”

-- Paul Thompson, Consenna

No-code vs. full-code: When should you use it?

While the no-code approach offers tremendous opportunity, it is not best for certain cases (yet). Today’s platforms optimize for common web application categories -- things like marketplaces, data/task management systems, social/communication tools, process automations, etc. Tools like Bubble.io can interact with third-party APIs for everything from payments and authentication to AI and machine learning.

Projects that involve developing novel technologies (e.g., video codec, file compression), updating existing on prem software, or specific hardware (e.g., VR games) are typically not best for a no-code solution.

See our detailed breakdown on when to choose no-code vs. full-code development.

How consultancies can put no-code into practice during a recession

Introducing a new technology solution for creating software faster and less expensively can be a natural segue into a conversation around needs and priorities.

Below are 3 tips from our consulting partners on how to find the right opportunities:

  1. Start with your existing portfolio: Identify clients and existing projects that could benefit from rapid software development, rather than chasing new opportunities
  2. Find the clearest ROI: The best entry point is a case where there is a known need (especially to unlock cost savings), and where alternatives are too slow or costly
  3. Measure impact: The key to an initial project is to capture data on impact (e.g., cost savings, process efficiency/effectiveness, user volume), to leverage the process into expanded opportunities.

Build more value for clients using no-code development

In this time of need, advisors will need to broaden their toolkits in order to serve their clients in innovative ways. Building software with no-code is just one of the tools that can make a difference. At Airdev, we have seen the transformative effects of combining strategic guidance with technical solutions, and are excited to see the approach continue to grow.

Andrew Haller leads Airdev in San Francisco, a leading global no-code agency that helps hundreds of startup, consulting, and enterprise clients build software faster and leaner to unlock value. Andrew is a former management consultant with McKinsey & Company.

Talk to us about your clients' needs and we can help you create efficiencies and increase their revenue using no-code.