Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a well known theory in psychology, but could it also apply to IT's "road warriors"?

The theory - and it is only a theory, for it has its detractors - suggests that individual needs can be grouped into tiers, with people only moving on to the next level once the previous one is met.

Thus, someone who has not satisfied their physiological needs - adequate food, water, air, etc - can't yet focus on personal security, say, or on higher tiers such as gaining the respect of others.

Talking recently to Nigel Hawthorn, who heads Blue Coat Systems in Europe, he suggested to me that a similar model might perhaps explain the behaviour of mobile and remote workers towards their IT. That might sound crazy, but think about it a moment...

Those of us who used to travel with an armoury of phone-plug adapters and modem cables - because you never knew what kind of phone socket you might encounter - will remember how fundamental was the problem of simply getting connected. Some even carried a screwdriver and crocodile clips, in case the hotel phone was hard-wired to the wall.

And when merely getting connected was that hard, who complained that the line was only 9600bit/s instead of 54kbit/s, or that someone might be listening in?

Once those problems were solved though, first by RJ11 sockets and now by WiFi, the worries moved on. In Hawthorn's model, security comes next - if I can get to my email, I don't want the spam, and if I can get to the web, I don't want the malware.

Make it safe to connect, and the next set of concerns appear - availability, or having access to all the apps you usually need, not just email. Only after that do users start to worry about performance.

Of course, you might quibble about the order these run in - people argued with Maslow too. But Nigel suggests it's why many remote or branch office users are only now complaining about slow access - they have finally got used to everything else 'just working'.

It won't be too much of a surprise to learn that he says this means you need to buy Blue Coat's WAN accelerators, plus their associated PC client software.

Maybe he's right, but maybe the network admins out there should also pat themselves on the back for a job well done - thus far, anyhow!