The article looks at curation skills as a potential key source of differentiation in commerce. While museums have long been associated with such expertise in the physical world, more firms are applying this mindset to the online space. The author suggestions a curation model to business has potential to create new sources of value within and across these domains.

Harvard Business School’s Ray Weaver says that what Groupon is up to is much more sophisticated than just offering 50 percent-off coupons. Groupon, along with companies like Apple, Facebook, and Progressive Insurance, is a leading example of firms that are thinking about customers in a new way—much like how a museum curator orchestrates the experience of patrons. Weaver, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unitat HBS, believes that part of Groupon’s success is borne of the careful way the company presents wares to its customers: providing a very limited amount of choices at a time, along with a brief, engaging description of each offering.

The best salespeople in brick-and-mortar shops are natural curators (and docents), guiding customers toward the wares that best suit their needs, and away from the wares that don’t. But on the web, customers depend on community review sites like Yelp.com where anyone with an Internet connection can post an opinion of or a story about any given product or service. Customers often find honesty in such crowd-sourced reviews, but they’ll rarely find the expertise of an in-house curator. […]