Could Scotland 2015 create a Google, Facebook or Amazon?

The digital revolution has raised the stakes for Scotland's ability to build a strong technology sector, and the skills to support it.

For Polly Purvis, who helped create the industry voice ScotlandIS 13 years ago and has headed it ever since, the unveiling last year by the Scottish Government of a Skills Investment Plan and a £6.6m boost for the "vital ICT sector" was a big moment.

"I suspect I was a thorn in the flesh going on and on about skills, but they have responded and are responding and we are starting to see that programme of intervention beginning to take place, we are very involved in supporting that delivery," Ms Purvis says.

But it is only a beginning. "We need to do a hell of a lot more on the STEM (science technology engineering and maths) subjects, there is an immediate job to be done right back down into the primary schools on what computing is about, what you can do with technology, its applications, the appliance of science rather than being able to use word-processing."

It is a cause she argues with passion. "We need to disabuse teachers, many of whom see IT as being word-processing and spreadsheets, we need to re-educate non-computing teachers. Careers advice is hugely out of date, it is very difficult to keep it current because what was happening two years ago in our industry will not be the same as what it will be two years from now, it's a fast-moving industry.

"People who give advice as to what careers to take, parents and teachers, have a complete lack of knowledge of the opportunities in our industry, that is something the industry needs to fix."

The 61-year-old, one of only three women on the 27-strong ScotlandIS board, homes in on another key issue. "We also need to encourage more young girls to come into the industry, it is very male-oriented, particularly in software development, they tend to be in marketing, HR and customer-facing roles, and yet if you go to India Thailand or Vietnam, the split is about 50-50. So it is not intrinsic, it is just that we give it such a geeky sort of is a big challenge to address."

Armed with a degree in agriculture and food marketing from Newcastle, the young graduate landed a job in the City with RBS and spent nine years there - "it was the days before Big Bang, the days when banking was still something everybody wanted to be involved in". She returned to Scotland to join the small business division at the old Scottish Development Agency, got involved in early stage venture funding, and eventually headed the company growth division at Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh & Lothian.

In 1993 Ms Purvis quit the public sector to join specialist business growth consultants Matrix Management, where she spent five years before moving to the Scottish Software Federation. Three years later she helped broker the merger which formed ScotlandIS and gave the industry a unified voice.

"When I first got involved in the software and tech sector in the late 1990s it was very embryonic, there were probably a couple of dozen companies that you might take seriously. Then we went through a very torrid period in the early 2000s after the dotcom collapse but I think it has started to grow very significantly over the last 10 years. There is more stability, the growth is much more sustainable, there are lots of exciting things happening in start-up companies, and you start to have some critical mass in the digital technologies."

She goes on: "Another element in the mix which we didn't have 15 years is there were probably half a dozen business angels with technology backgrounds. Now a lot of people have made some money out of the tech sector and they are ploughing it back in. There are also a number of entrepreneurs who have been round the block a couple of times, David Sibbald is a classic example."

Mr Sibbald, now on his third venture with medicine software group Aridhia Informatics, and Skyscanner co-founder Gareth Williams, were the stars of last October's ScotSoft conference staged by Scotland IS in Edinburgh. Their message was that Scotland really could produce digital economy giants.

Ms Purvis says: "One of the great things that Gareth has done is raise the bar, people are starting to see it is that 'yes you can' attitude, if Skyscanner can raise money from Sequoia Capital why can't we, if other companies are going overseas and doing very well why can't we? Some of the start-up and smaller companies are starting to say instead of tackling the UK market we are going to tackle the world."

She says the sector has been forcing its way up Scotland's economic development policy agenda. " It was a good call to concentrate on priorities, food and drink is a really great success story, but what has surprised them is that the tech sector, engineering, manufacturing, has come in from left field and built additional strength.

"Despite a lot of the economy having declined in tough times, our part of the technology sector didn't, we have year on year growth of 10 per cent among our SME community. Initially they just worked harder, but since about 2010 we have seen steady growth of headcount."

But Scotland cannot go it alone, Ms Purvis warns. "We won't solve the problem with people just from Scotland, all the statistics about the Scottish economy suggest we actually need net immigration and these are some of the high-value jobs.

"We want as many people as possible who are down South to come back, so it may not be all external immigration, it is about getting people from the South of England to consider coming here.

"We also need to increase university places and find new ways of bringing people into the industry who might not have come up through traditional routes....we have to go out and promote Scotland as a place to come and work in the technology sector, to increase the size of the eco-system - more critical mass means a more sustainable industry, and that is a more attractive sell."