Thought Leadership

Provenance: Harnessing data and AI for a sustainable future

Published on
May 17, 2023
Alex Rahin

 “Saving our planet is now a communications challenge” - Sir David Attenborough

In an era where our planet's health is in precarious balance, individual and collective choices can tip the scales toward a more sustainable future. Shopper behaviour, in particular, plays a pivotal role in this equation. The products we buy, the brands we endorse, and the companies we support can all influence the trajectory of our world's sustainability. However, a significant challenge remains: How can shoppers make informed decisions without access to clear, reliable, and comprehensive data on the impact footprint of their purchases?

This is where Provenance is pioneering the use of data and Artificial Intelligence to transform the landscape of sustainability communications, marketing, and advertising. By utilising a robust data-driven approach, Provenance is shifting the paradigm; enabling both brands and shoppers to make informed, sustainable decisions. But how can data and AI truly transform shopper behaviour? And why is Provenance uniquely positioned to lead in this transformative era?

Data and AI have long been recognised and used for their potential to uncover patterns and trends that would otherwise remain hidden. In the context of sustainability, these technologies and tools can provide unprecedented insights into the social and environmental impact of shopper choices. AI can process vast amounts of data to assess the impact of products, brands, and even industries in real-time, offering shoppers a transparent, objective measure of their potential purchases.

The Provenance team pioneered the use of Web3 for integrity in sustainability claims - years ahead of the market. Having spent the last 20 years working in the Data/AI space in a variety of industries from Search at Microsoft Bing to Food Delivery at Just Eat, I am excited to bring my experience and passion for sustainability to build out our vision at Provenance. Today, Provenance's technology is revolutionising sustainability communications by developing the world's first product-level sustainability Knowledge Graph. A knowledge graph is a type of data structure used to represent information in a way that's easy for both machines and humans to understand. It's essentially a network of entities — objects, events, concepts, or any other pieces of information — and their interrelations. The resulting graph is especially useful in fields like AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing - think ChatGPT and Large Language Models or LLMs), where understanding the relationships between different pieces of information is crucial. It allows for complex querying and can reveal deeper insights about the data. 

The Provenance Knowledge Graph is fuelled by our own product-level sustainability data, which includes everything from product and brand details to certifications, ingredients, regulations, and an authoritative sustainability framework. This wealth of data enables Provenance to provide reliable, data-driven insights that illuminate the social and environmental impact of shoppers' purchasing decisions. 

During my time as Chief Data Officer at Just Eat, I saw first-hand the transformative power of Data. I had the privilege of leading a growing product-led Data team that organised Just Eat’s vast data into a scalable and automated data infrastructure which transformed every aspect of Just Eat’s operations. Today, I am excited how we can similarly transform sustainable decision-making.

Our open-source Framework will be a foundational layer to the Provenance Knowledge Graph

However, the transformative power of data and AI in steering shopper behaviour towards sustainability is not without its challenges. The risks and biases inherent in AI, the need for transparent governance in software development and the physical/digital gap in supply chain data management are all factors that must be carefully managed. Having been at the coalface of defining and pushing for claims integrity and transparency in supply chains for nearly a decade now, Provenance is acutely aware of the challenges of applying novel technologies to real world industrial and commercial realities. We prioritise transparency, trustworthiness, and the objective verification and certification of data, ensuring that its insights are as reliable as they are impactful.

The market is one of the world’s most powerful tools for system change. But we need reliable, consistent data to incentivise people to choose better. Provenance's vision is that data-driven insights and AI applications can catalyse a shift towards more sustainable choices. As a pioneer in the field, Provenance is uniquely positioned to lead this transformative era. We are more passionate and energised as ever because our work serves as a powerful reminder that with the right information and tools, we all have the power to change the way we shop, for good.

To learn more about how Provenance is helping brands make credible, consistent, and comprehensive environmental claims, click here.

Alex Rahin
Chief Product & Technology Officer
The Provenance Team

Provenance powers sustainability claims you can trust. The global leader in sustainability marketing technology, Provenance helps brands and retailers share credible, compelling and fact-checked social and environmental impact information at the point of sale. Provenance’s technology is already increasing conversion rates, brand value and market share for customers including Cult Beauty, Douglas, GANNI, Napolina, Arla and Unilever

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