John Jakovich

Chief Innovation Officer, Tessitura

Audience behaviors are changing. Are you keeping up?


5 min

As arts and culture administrators, you love your audiences.

They can be your biggest cheerleaders. They are often your strongest advocates. Your organization wouldn’t exist without their support.

Yet, as customers, they can be a lovely mess of contradictions. They want you to communicate with them individually. But they will serve you their revenge cold on a public platform viewed by thousands if they don’t like something you’ve done. They want an immediate response to their questions. Yet, they wait until the last minute to decide they want to attend your shows or exhibitions. They want it to be easy to bring a group with them. But they don’t want to handle the details because they depend on you to do that for them. 

Expectations are changing

Audience expectations and behaviors are changing. Gone are the days when arts and culture patrons were passive consumers. They want to engage with your organization. They want insider access. They want benefits and services customized to their individual interests and needs.

And audiences cannot be viewed as homogenous groups. Instead, each customer is an individual node in a series of dynamic networks that make up your audience. Those networks include family and friends, of course. But they also include virtual acquaintances made on social media and other online channels. These networks have a high degree of connectivity with and influence over each other.

How are you leveraging these new networks of customers? Arts and culture organizations must consider how this connectivity could improve and amplify interactions with visitors. You must redefine your communications strategies and really think about what this means in terms of loyalty.

When was the last time you examined the myriad journeys your visitors take with your organization?

When was the last time you examined the myriad journeys your visitors take with your organization?

Digital convenience is essential

Digital transformation provides the key to embracing, empowering and engaging your customer networks. It opens new options for collaborating with your influencers and building value for your organization.

In another article, I explored technologies that make digital transformation possible in arts and culture. It’s important to emphasize that while technology powers digital transformation, centering your people in the transformation will ensure success.

It’s clear that a desire for expediency drives much of your audiences’ behavior today. The pandemic heightened visitor expectations around digital convenience.

One example is a new benchmark when it comes to self-service. Think about your website. Your website should be as powerful as your box office or ticket counter. When your visitors call you, is it because they can’t do something themselves online, such as exchange or transfer a ticket? Is it because they can’t apply a member discount to a web sale, or they aren’t sure what benefits they have available? If so, how does that affect their perceptions of your organization before they even arrive?

Arts and culture patrons use digital channels in all areas of their lives. So, it’s not surprising they expect seamless, personalized, accessible experiences with your organization, too. Digital convenience is more than assumed; it’s essential.

The pandemic heightened visitor expectations around digital convenience.

What does digital convenience look like for arts and culture organizations?

These five factors should guide your thoughts about customer interactions in a digital world. Focusing on them will help you better leverage your audience networks.

  • Include. Audiences want access to your organization. They expect your team to be fast, be everywhere and be ready all the time. While that’s a tall order, what can you do to increase their perceptions of access and inclusivity?
  • Engage. What are you doing to deepen engagement with your visitors? You should be the go-to source of content for audiences. Give them resources they can share with others in their networks.
  • Customize. How can you personalize the experiences your customers have with your organization? Some patrons prefer to redeem benefits online. Others want someone they can call for help. Wherever it’s practical, let them do things their way.
  • Connect. How can you make meaningful connections with individual audience members and help them connect with each other? Focus on dialogue rather than one-way conversations.
  • Collaborate: Are there ways your influencers can work with you to reach your goals? Look for opportunities to build community. Leverage user-generated content and other tactics to amplify their networks, too.

The way your customers find you has evolved. The way they access and use information from your organization has changed. And the power they have to influence others has ballooned thanks to online platforms that amplify their reach. Remember, they are each individual nodes within a network.

Digital transformation gives you tools to take advantage of these changes. It improves your audience experience. As you increase digital convenience and leverage customer networks, your organization will add more value to your visitor interactions.



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John Jakovich

John Jakovich

Chief Innovation Officer

John Jakovich leads Tessitura Network’s technology teams.

Prior to joining Tessitura Network in November 2015, he had spent more than a decade as a senior technology leader working with some of the non-profit industry’s largest organizations and within the Tessitura Network ecosystem. He was the Vice President of Technology at SofTrek Corporation, a provider of non-profit CRM systems for philanthropic organizations and, before that, Chief Information Officer at Jacobson Consulting Applications (JCA), a firm that provides strategic and technology consulting to non-profit organizations.    

John has over 20 years of experience in IT management and software development for enterprise systems, the majority of which he spent developing business intelligence solutions for the non-profit industry. He studied computer science at California State University Chico and San Marcos and started his engineering career in the dynamic southern California internet start-up market of the mid-nineties.  John worked at several successful start-ups in the e-commerce and artificial intelligence and eventually landed at Kintera, Inc. (later acquired by Blackbaud Inc.).  

John lives in Fort Collins, CO. He enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, taking advantage of the active Colorado lifestyle, including snowboarding, hiking and running.

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