If some financial forecasters are correct, and the country does head for a downturn as early as 2020, the economy would be bracing for a contraction in a much more digital-driven context than the Great Recession of 2008.
"I'm pretty concerned about it, actually," Justin Donato, VP of business systems at Nintex told CIO Dive. "If it doesn't happen it's the best scenario, but my personal opinion is that we'll come close to it."
Amid a contraction, Donato said his focus at the workflow automation company would shift away from capital-expenditure heavy projects, like rolling out a new audiovisual system or refreshing server technology.
"That's typically the first thing we put the breaks on," Donato said. Instead, the company would prioritize updates to productivity improvements.
But companies planning to slash projected tech investments might actually hurt their chances to weather the storm, analysts and academics say.
If anything, a downturn in the economy means ideal timing for tech build outs, as lower demand offers respite from disruptive modernization projects.
Pitfalls of slowing investments
In a recession, companies commonly cancel contracts with vendors where they can, or decline to commit to new relationships. Industry saw it happen a decade ago.
"In the SaaS arena, during the Great Recession, growth rate dropped significantly," J. P. Gownder, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, in an interview with CIO Dive. "But the problem is when you do this you can create discontinuity that sets you back. If you started a move to the cloud, and then you say 'we need to cap usage,' you don't know what downstream impact you'll face."
Studies have shown companies that lay off staffers amid a recession tend to have lower stock prices and revenue once the recessionary period is over, according to Gownder.
Instinctive moves from companies facing the effects of a recession tend to backfire because they're reactive instead of proactive. A plan must be in place before the wave hits.
"The responses that companies have to the recession are pretty well known, and they're ineffective" said Nikolai Roussanov, professor of finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in an interview with CIO Dive. "We know in recessions there will be a reduction in staffing."
But there's opportunity in recessionary periods to get a leg-up on the competition.
"It's logical to use the recession to upgrade software and production facilities," according to Roussanov. "The opportunity cost is lower because you're less likely to be able to take productive resources offline at a time of higher demand."
In a recession, vendors in the enterprise software industry would have to contend with two forces.
Customers look to IT first when searching for ways to optimize a budget, Roussanov said, which could mean pullback from existing customers.
On the other hand, a recession can mean boom time for technology products that promise more efficiency in operations.
"We went through that in the back end of the  financial crisis," said Donato. The need for productivity gave Nintex a unique selling point.
Industry will need to adjust its ability to serve customers with new propositions, new prices and experiences as quickly as possible, Gownder said.