Apparently we live in a digital age.

But when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities to grow businesses and markets, particularly abroad, Scottish companies are worryingly reticent to embrace digital technology.

The Institute of Directors, along with many other business groups believes that at least 25% of Scottish small to medium enterprises (SMEs) still do not use the internet for real business benefit.

And that is not to say that the remaining 75% are fully engaged. Companies may be using broadband but when it comes to harnessing digital and web technologies to tap into new markets, they haven't a clue where to start. No wonder only a woefully low 8% of Scottish companies currently export.

This situation is all the more curious given that most companies would cite infrastructure as being crucial to their businesses. What they don't realise is that digital infrastructure provides vital routes in and out of the country that are just as important as road, rail, sea and air links.

However, in this area too, Scotland is well behind the curve in its lack of high-speed digital ambition. At first glance the Scottish Government's Step Change 2015 and World Class 2020 initiatives to deliver broadband speeds of between 40 and 80 megabits per second, respectively, sound admirable. But compare this with Sweden and Japan where 100 megabits per second is the norm. With 42% of the Japanese population now having access to a gigabit per second (with 2Gbps just released), we have to do much better than this.

Speed is important, but so too is connectivity. At the moment all broadband connections from Scotland to the rest of the world are routed through London. This single point of failure means if anything serious happened all digital activity in the UK would more or less stop.

An alternative route doesn't require a hi-tech solution - a cable dropped across the North Sea between Scotland and Amsterdam would suffice, and the cost would be a fraction of the potential billions lost in productivity should this one connection fail.

An additional connection would encourage businesses to sprout up around the termini and Scotland could go further and reap the many benefits of becoming a world internet hub. Sizing the Internet Economy, the 2012 McKinsey Global Institute Research survey of 13 countries - Sweden, the UK, Japan, USA, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, China, Italy, France, Canada, India - found SMEs using web technology grow faster and export twice as much as those that don't.

Furthermore, for every pound invested in internet-driven activity, a return of between 13 and 20 times was generated. The survey also revealed that 75% of internet impact comes from traditional industries and companies becoming more productive and creating more jobs. In 2012 the internet created 2.6 jobs for every one job lost.

We could do worse than to set up an "adopt a digital native" campaign. This would encourage SMEs, terrified of new technology, to offer internet savvy school-leavers a six month job to take the company out of the digital dark ages. Such a reverse mentorship scheme is not as crazy as it sounds and could be extremely effective.

At the other end of the spectrum, Scotland desperately needs people with serious IT project-management skills. If Scotland does vote for independence, then all the existing Government systems such as tax, welfare benefits and vehicle licensing in Scotland will need to either be "rented" from the UK Government or be re-developed.

Scotland will struggle to resource these projects and will need to turn to some of the big system inte­grators for help. This in itself will need to be carefully managed, as we simply don't have enough experienced people to manage either of these options.

While there is some truth to the argument that Scotland could muddle along without additional connections and faster speeds, it's all about ambition.

If Scotland wants to be regarded as a modern forward-thinking country, regardless of the result in the September referendum, it needs to raise its digital game.