Using interactive pictures rather than text to set out the business requirements of software applications could save billions of pounds, according to business consultancy Deloitte.
Software development will be transformed through the increased use of tools that enable business people to visualise applications in the requirements phase of development, said Deloitte.
Requirement visualisation tools can be used instead of text to explain to code writers what an application needs to do. Because text is open to interpretation and ambiguous, using pictures and a system that can create prototypes will overcome communication problems, it is claimed.
Visualisation tools create a fully functioning simulation of the working software before any code is written.
Sam Roddick, partner in Deloitte's technology integration practice, said there has been a long-standing gulf between those in the business and those tasked with developing technology that the business wants.
"There is always a lot of interpretation and the developer can create something that is very different to what the business had in mind. This is particularly true around the user interface - and where visualisation tools really come to the fore," he said.
"Visualisation tools help to close that gap and enable you to be explicit with the software developers so they know exactly what their code has to do."
According to iRise, which provides Deloitte's requirement visualisation tool, big companies have recorded savings of 30% to 50% on the cost of major application development and enterprise-wide implementations when requirements visualisation is correctly embedded in their development processes.
Analyst firm Gartner said global spending on application development and support was £98.9bn and £6.4bn in the UK in 2009. Deloitte said the misunderstandings that arise through interpretation can account for between 20% and 30% of the total cost of implementing a new application.
It added that only a fraction of software application development and implementations currently use visualisation tools.
Roddick said, "Requirements visualisation makes sure that everyone is on the same page before major investment is made. With a new service you can demonstrate that the design meets your target audience's needs and expectations before you even start the build process. And that is critical when demand for attention in the online environment is extremely competitive."
The iRise tool used by Deloitte has a drag-and-drop menu that business users can use to create a web page. They can then interact with it.