For those of you not in attendance at last week\u2019s Gartner Symposium\/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., here\u2019s an interesting tidbit regarding the management of your remote workforce. Gartner made this ominous prediction: \u201cThrough 2010, companies that do not implement new, more-stringent remote worker policies and network access controls, along with management tools, will see remote worker costs increase by five to 10 times and the number of security breaches increase exponentially.\u201dGot your attention? Gartner also threw out more statistics: \u201cThe known costs of centrally supporting remote access services will double by 2008, and the unknown costs without centralized management will triple.\u201d In a past posting, I wondered about the relevancy of these forward-looking predictions -- to the tune of, \u201cDoes anybody really care about stuff like this?\u201d It turns out the answer is \u201cyes\u201d; many people do care about stuff like this, which is why I wanted to talk about it.First off, with Gartner\u2019s predictions in mind, are you really concerned about managing the costs of your remote workers? And what, if anything, are you doing about it?Gartner\u2019s Eric Paulak, a managing vice president, sees the chief problem as a lack of a centralized remote-worker strategy. "The problem lies in the fact that different remote access technologies have been managed by different groups in the company, and new technologies are cropping up that no one is managing," said Paulak, in a press release from the conference. "Many costs get buried in the company, and the hidden costs are growing rapidly while the centrally managed costs are declining. These costs could be controlled if they were part of a centrally managed remote access service."Of course what he\u2019s getting at is what I\u2019ve been hearing from more and more CIOs lately: a shift to more centrally managed IT. The critical caveat that most all CIOs will include with this strategy is \u201c...where it makes business sense.\u201d That\u2019s good.An interesting data point that came out of the Gartner gathering provided evidence of the dearth of centralized and standard IT policies, and the fine (and tricky) line that IT walks: While most companies maintain ownership and control over employees\u2019 PCs, Gartner stated that arrangement \u201cis being challenged by more employees who refuse the company standard-issue PC.\u201d The biggest and most frequent offenders? C-level executives. That\u2019s priceless. \u201cFifty percent of C-level executives will perform 80 percent of their work on a non-company standard PC through 2008,\u201d Gartner reported. For his part, however, Paulak was somewhat pessimistic in his comments about IT\u2019s desire to fix the problem. "Many networking managers don't want that to happen, however, because it takes a hidden cost that the business units have to pay and turns it into a known cost that the networking or IT department has to pay," said Mr. Paulak. "Yet, if these costs were centrally managed, the company would be able to control its costs much better. IT\/networking\/remote access managers should push their companies toward more-aggregated services to control rising costs. This will require buy-in from the Chief Financial Officer because it may increase IT costs, but it should lower total corporate costs by up to 40 percent."It\u2019s good advice, I think, if you can do it. (Good luck taking away your C-level colleagues non-company-issues toys -- laptops, handhelds, cell phones, smart phones.) Will you heed it over the next four years? Does centralizing IT costs make sense to your organization?