SEG Strategic Options (SO) Task Force Update

Hello SEG members.

I am happy to share with you the substantial progress the Strategic Options (SO) Task Force has made in the analysis of options ahead for SEG. Since October of last year, the Task Force has analyzed internal and market data and engaged a wide range of stakeholders, members, and others in order to gain broad input and perspective on SEG’s current status as well as its many future options. Amongst the Task Force’s activities were the following:

Open Feedback and Consultation Process

  • Discussions with our SEG Council and Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) leaders
  • One-on-One conversations with leaders of our top stakeholders, including oilfield operators and service companies, mining companies, environmental engineering, and others
  • Receiving perspectives via focus groups selected to represent different sectors of applied geophysics, faculty and students, seasoned professionals, and entrepreneurs in geophysics
  • Communication via social media platforms, email, and SEG website
  • Dialogue with our sister societies and other societies outside our usual contacts
  • Meetings with the SEG Foundation

Analysis by the SO Task Force

  • Our Strengths: What makes SEG proud, solid, reliable, and resilient in geophysics – what value are we delivering to our members and stakeholders, where are there gaps in delivering value?
  • Our Weaknesses: Where (and why) are we failing to deliver value to some of our members and stakeholders? We also looked at what risks we would or could face in the future.
  • Our Opportunities: Current status and trends in our financials, membership demographics, geographical and geophysical applications segments in the membership, current and potential new revenue streams
  • Our Future: What are the current growing applications of geophysics, and what can be expected in the geophysics future. How will we deliver improved value to our members and stakeholders in the future?
  • How SEG might fit with a different, merged society?
  • What would SEG look like in the future with different approaches? These approaches include merging, re-inventing, and staying the course.

Preliminary Observations

  • Our financial standing is solid.
  • The landscape is changing for geophysicists and success will require a different trajectory.
  • Many members value SEG as a professional society associated with applied geophysics rather than a particular industry.
  • We need to continue to provide value to our core stakeholders, predominately in the oil & gas sector, while broadening our appeal to attract new stakeholders.
  • SEG needs to adapt in order to thrive in the changing landscape of applied geophysics. As one indicator of this, our membership has evolved with 30% dedicated to or interested in near surface geophysics and 20% in sustainability topics like CO2, environmental, and others.
  • SEG’s main revenue stream – meetings and events, has been enhanced through collaboration with other societies. Examples include IPTC, OTC, and even our Annual Meeting, now IMAGE, in conjunction with AAPG. We should seek additional opportunities for collaboration with other societies and organizations.
  • SEG needs to move beyond meetings and events as the dominant source of funding. There is a significant opportunity in the digital space for different models.
  • New digital spaces will allow for improvement in our ability to connect with our global membership.
  • Even as commodity prices have risen recently and we all hope for a rebound in the energy sector, we still want to position for the future. We still want to improve the value delivered by membership and involvement.

Based on the observations and work listed above, the SO Task Force is aligned to reinvent SEG and continue to be the flagship technical society for applied geophysics. They have communicated their views to the SEG Board.

What’s next?

  • The Task Force has hired a 3rd party consultant to conduct small focus groups- currently ongoing.
  • The Task Force is having one-on-one conversations with industry leaders- currently ongoing.
  • We will schedule town-hall-style meetings for members to participate in an interactive Q&A session with the Task Force- coming soon.
  • The Board will determine a path forward during the March board meeting via a vote.

I will give you an update as soon as the SEG Board has agreed on a path forward, a path that I trust will excite and benefit our current members and our FUTURE members.


Anna Shaughnessy
SEG President and Chair of the Board