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The project will develop methodologies and a platform that combines essential features of semantic technologies and business intelligence.
Only some of the data posted on the internet can be read by computers. Business users usually have to visit multiple websites to find all the information they need.
The SAP-led Cubist project aims to provide a single interface to those multiple sources, and then to use formal concept analysis to capture and visualise the data's underlying meaning or semantics.
Formal concept analysis (FCA) adds conceptual structures or metadata to the data. Searching metadata speeds up discovery of key knowledge that can create competitive advantage, the researchers say.
Simon Polovina, senior lecturer in enterprise computing at the communication and computing research centre (CCRC) at SHU, said: "Semantic technology will be the next big breakthrough for the World Wide Web and will better enable computers and people to work together.
"Cubist will create new visual tools to help businesses make sense of the vast amounts of data that are out there."