Retailers can gain huge competitive advantages in an increasingly digital marketplace by leveraging consumer insights.

That’s according to “The JDA Voice of the Category Manager.” The report, from JDA Software Group, tapped nearly 100 professionals responsible for category management and merchandising activity in North America.

Among this group, their top investment priority in the next five years is big data and predictive analytics (4%), followed by investments in customer-driven data science (37%). This is promising, as the study also revealed that most companies currently lack the ability to mine and leverage important customer data, therefore failing to meet evolving shopping demands.

Currently, companies have access to volumes of essential data about their customers’ shopping preferences and behaviors. Where companies fall short is in their ability to derive actionable insights from this mountain of consumer data. While respondents on average stated that they are “somewhat” successful in mining consumer data to generate usable insights (82%), less than one-fifth (17%) feel they are “highly” successful in their ability to leverage the data to derive actionable insights.

When asked to identify which processes they lacked the most proficiency in, nearly 70% of participants indicated that they are most behind on leveraging predictive analytics for improved pricing and merchandising — two capabilities that are of paramount importance for sustained success in today’s customer-centric world. Additionally, nearly 60% of respondents claimed…