HP has made a Slack bot that lets you print documents directly inside Slack.
Currently, there isn’t really an easy way to print a document within Slack. Instead, documents that are shared must be opened in a separate app or web browser.
Of course, you can just use a keyboard shortcut or do the old File –> Print to get the job done, but HP innovation manager David Parry said that’s old thinking.
“We want to think beyond the ways of just File –> Print. We think that’s outmoded. Nobody goes up to the top left corner, clicks on file and goes down to print. Mobile phones have changed that. You share to folks. Just like you share to to your friends, you should be able to share with your printer. Bots are kind of getting after that strategy.”
The HP Slack bot requires the use of cloud-based HP ePrint, which allows you to print documents and photos at work, at home, or anywhere else.
In addition to offering to print every file you share, the bot (once it is added to the channel) responds to about half a dozen different slash commands to do things like adding or deleting a printer.
As more work gets done on chat platforms like Slack, finding a way to be a part of conversations may be important to companies like HP.
Preliminary results of HP Facebook Messenger bot show that users of the bot are slightly more likely to print documents, Parry said, but it’s not about getting more of these kinds of office workers to do more printing.
“I think it’s being available to them should they need to print,” he said. “We’re not trying to get pushy that everything must be printed, but we do recognize that people want and need to print, and we wanted to provide a very simple, clean way to do that.”
The Slack bot is part of HP’s strategy to create bots for both team messaging and group chat. HP launched a Facebook Messenger bot shortly after the launch of the Messenger platform in April. And HP has plans to make bots for Skype, Microsoft Teams, SMS, and other chat platforms.
The HP Facebook Messenger bot is made for people who want to print by sharing with a bot, while the Slack bot is less proactive and sort of operates in the background.
Future versions of enterprise bots may include the ability to customize print jobs and do things like collate or print on both sides.
“For us, it’s really about reinventing the way people think about print…Slack didn’t have a great print (capability) and we want to make sure customers can get those documents they need and get things printed where they want it and when they want it,” Parry said.