BU Consolidates Computer Sales and Support
University Computers to close; merger with PCSC will support BU users
This summer, everyone from tech-savvy Linux users to tech-phobic Facebook novices will be able to protect their PCs, build software skills, and combat the Blue Screen of Death in one location on Boston University’s campus. University Computers, BU’s longtime retail and service center for computers, software, and electronics, will be consolidated with the Personal Computing Support Center (PCSC) at the end of the semester, folding the support services offered by both departments into the PCSC’s operation.
Information Technology announced the move yesterday, citing BU President Robert A. Brown’s effort to streamline services across the University, as well as to cut costs in areas that are not a critical part of the academic mission.
“It’s motivated by a sense of how we do business and how we’re going to do it better by integrating these two services together in one location,” says Michael Krugman, the interim vice president of IT. “To run a retail operation in this economy is more challenging than ever, and what we’re trying to do is put ourselves out of harm’s way.”
Under the new system, the University Computers storefront in Kenmore Square will close, as both the sales and service departments will become part of existing University resources. Tech support and repairs will be provided at the PCSC headquarters at 111 Cummington St. The consolidation may reduce costs for users, Krugman says; University Computers charges for service calls, but the PCSC does not charge for basic service calls, such as software interventions.
Sales will also move to the PCSC building, where shoppers will be able to test different computers at a new demonstration station. All BU departments as well as the broader BU community will be able to place computer orders on a new Web site, to be launched over the summer to facilitate the transition. Joseph Mercurio, BU’s executive vice president, says the new Web-based sales model and consolidation of services “will provide the community with access to educational discounts in a more cost-efficient way.”
University Computers currently employs 15 people; 5 repair technicians will continue working at IT, while 10 positions will be eliminated. Manuel Monteiro, the associate vice president of human resources, says the employees were notified yesterday, and the layoffs will take place over the next five months. Each employee will receive outplacement services from Human Resources, and each has been encouraged to apply to open positions at BU.
The Kenmore Square storefront will be marketed to potential commercial tenants by Rental Property Management, Mercurio says.
The entire personal computing industry is experiencing a downturn, both in stores and on the Web: Mac sales are expected to come in 200,000 under target in the first quarter of 2009, according to JPMorgan Chase analysts, and PC sellers as a whole are anticipating an 11.9 percent decline in 2009, according to the research group Gartner, Inc. Sharp sales declines have occurred at University Computers as well: since October, sales are down 20 percent from fiscal year 2008, with drops of 45 percent in October, 29 percent in January, and 30 percent in February. Many major national retailers, such as Circuit City, have closed their doors in recent months.8 Comments