GE has just published its latest interactive infographic, which presents the results of a massive survey asking 530 CFOs how confident they were in the present economic recovery. Since it's gauging the subjective viewpoints of these CFOs, you get a little bit of insight into to how they feel — and how collective emotions help shape our economy.
The infographic is basically a dashboard, with a multitude of dimensions. Each of the seven industries answered questions in six separate areas — ranging from current economic conditions, to hiring plans.
The CFOs preside over companies with between $50 million and $1 billion in yearly revenue (the average: $144 million). So they're ideally positioned to tell us whether people are getting hired, who's getting fired, and how mid-sized businesses are reacting after the Great Recession. And it's remarkable how cleanly their views align with those of macro economists, who've been predicting a very measured bounce back. Basically, the most cyclical industries were battered the hardest — in fact, they were battered so hard that they're not banking on any miracles soon.
Beautifully designed by Lisa Strausfeld, Hilla Katki, and Adam Suharja of Pentragram, it's probably one of the most illuminating infographics we've seen in quite awhile. "We wanted a big picture view, representing how these 530 CFOs were feeling about their company's position in this economy, " says Strausfeld. "The breakthrough was when Hilla lined up the answers to all the questions on a continuous (pessimistic to optimistic) axis."
What's brilliant about the visualization itself is that you can add industries by clicking on them; you can also click on any of the areas to find out more granular detail. That view arranges the results on a spectrum from pessimistic to optimistic.
You can find all kinds of nuggets inside about business in 2010. Perhaps the most striking overall fact is that all the industries are very, very closely aligned in their sentiments. For example, companies from all industries are frightened to death about innovations bubbling up from small businesses — which is surely a sign that our economy remains one of the most competitive and vital in the world:
Companies, meanwhile, confirm that the hiring uptick is underway, though it's been modest so far:
As to long-term outlook, growth is coming — but it'll be of the very modest, 2% sort, rather than the gaudy 4% figures we saw during the tech boom:
Don't miss the interactive graphic here.