What Are the Biggest Mistakes Companies Are Making in Digital Right Now?

Companies are spending billions on digital and much of it is wasted because they're actually missing three big things in terms of how they're approaching it. 

One is they really don't have a clear strategy. They're trying to take a journey without a good map and don't really know where they're headed and they haven't really put a stake in the ground as to where they want to go. So missing a really clear and well-defined strategy is often a pretty critical thing companies are lacking. 

The second thing is they're not really putting the user at the center what they do. The user could be a customer, could be a consumer, and what they haven't done is really surround their focus on the user with the right kind of insight, with the right kind of intense focus to really understand how they can solve that user-customer problem better now through digital. 

And the third thing that are doing is they're not moving fast enough. Legacy companies really have a big issue where they move too slow in terms of taking action in the market or with their customers or with innovation. Some of that's related to decision-making. Some of that's related to legacy ways of looking at the market. 

Too often it's because they're taking an old playbook and trying to take that old playbook and take it online, and that's really a recipe for failure. 

A lot of companies have focused on reengineering as a pathway for creating more value through digital. And that's not a bad thing. There's actually quite a bit a value that can be created by applying technology to make things better. Make them more efficient and make them more effective. Take what used to be done by people and make it down by machines. But the issue is you can't stop there, because everybody is doing that. And you're not going to get ahead of your competition just by reengineering. 

The only way you're going to get ahead, the only way you're going to move from from being a follower, of keeping pace with everybody, and actually become a leader, is if you start to as we start to reimagine your position and reimagine the art of the possible through what you can do with digital. You take a white sheet almost to what your company's positions look like what you can do with your capabilities and you kind of take a new view as to what's possible. 

The art of the possible is a really important view as to how you think about digital. You really have to think about reimagination versus reengineering. And when you take the view of reimagination, you start to consider what's really possible, what's the art of the possible? What can I do now that I really couldn't have done before because of the changes in technology, because the changes in user behavior. And the art of the possible is really the window into opening up a whole new set of opportunities that can drive tremendous growth for your company.


With that reimagined view, it opens up a whole new set of possibilities, allows you as an executive, as a CEO to look around the corner to see what's coming and say, that's where we need to go, that's where we want to be first, and that's actually where we're going to win. And it's that view that actually translates into driving an organization at scale towards real market leadership in a time of very significant disruption. That's the view that's going to help you unlock new ways to make money versus more the same. 

That's the view that's going to translate into very significant top-line revenue growth and higher multiples in the market. That's the view this going put your company in a real market leadership position and be a leader versus be a laggard.

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New fossils suggest human ancestors evolved in Europe, not Africa

Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.

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  • The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
  • Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
  • These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.

Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.

A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.

Rethinking humanity's origin story

The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.

David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.

The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.

Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"

He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.

"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."

Migrating out of Africa

In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.

Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.

The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.

The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.

Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.

Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.

Did we head east or south of Eden?

Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.

Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.