As the parent of a precocious youngster, I am preparing myself for when wide-eyed childhood fantasy begins to clash with post-adolescent reality.

My first taste of this transition came last winter when, for the first time, my son saw through the red suit and white beard I’ve donned for several years to play Santa Claus. To quickly clear up any confusion and avert disaster, I simply told him that Santa is so busy sometimes he needs a little help to make sure all his work gets done.

A little outside assistance could also help precision farming specialists who are no strangers to trying to be in multiple places at the same time.

While attending the recent 2013 InfoAg Conference in Springfield, Ill., it was interesting to observe the quantity and diversity of precision products and services on display. With so many emerging technology options for dealers to choose from, it’s understandably hard to know where to focus their often limited precision resources.

One way equipment dealers are taking advantage of diverse precision opportunities is through third-party partnerships — primarily for data management or agronomic services.

Working with an outside vendor can ease the internal workload and knowledge requirements on potentially foreign concepts for equipment dealers. But it can also strengthen customer relationships, because the dealer can brand the service as their own and rely on that third-party vendor for support.

“It’s easy trading tractors, but data is a very personal thing for farmers and they want to work with someone they trust and who can answer questions,” a precision service provider told me at the conference. “The average dealer probably doesn’t have that resource network established. We help establish it for the customer so the process is seamless.”

It’s up to dealers to decide how far and how fast they want to go into more abstract areas of precision farming, and some may prefer to keep their entire precision operations in-house.

But for those who do partner-up, collaboration will be key. Keeping an open dialogue with a third-party service provider will avoid confusion and potentially build to the point where dealers can offer an entire portfolio of services, without having to add additional staff.

If the InfoAg Conference was any indication, the population of third-party precision service providers certainly seems to be on the rise and it will be interesting to see to what extent dealers embrace these companies as business partners.

As the precision service provider at the conference told me, “We’re just the elves in the background. It’s up to dealers to tell us what they want.”