There is a thread on a LinkedIn business analyst group entitled "Are most BAs useless?" It is not the idea of the thread or the comments, both for and against the general concept of a business analyst's role in the organization; it's the word "useless". It is hard for me to even consider the words "business analyst" and "useless" in the same sentence referring to each other. There are business analysts who merely take orders, that is they perceive their job is to collect requirements from the user community, rewrite them into a requirements template and turn the requirements over to the solution team. No analysis. No evaluation. The customer is always right. I do not believe these types of business analyst are representative of the profession. I also do not believe they are useless. Clearly management of the organization in which they work believes they are performing a service even if all they are doing is keeping peace between the business and development communities.
Other business analysts see their job as intermediaries who call meetings, facilitate requirements sessions and generally spend their day with groups around conference tables. Again as unrepresentative as I may believe their activities are, they are still not "useless". I could go on.
I suppose there are business analysts who would be considered by any standard as "useless", especially by agile developers or pundits. But I submit that there are programmers or developers that are equally useless based on accepted standards of programming efficiency and effectiveness. I knew some. All professions have members who might be considered useless as a practitioner of that profession. It may be that they are simply in the wrong profession.
What a comment like that tells me, especially since it engenders a lot of comment in support with ample examples of "useless" business analysts, is that the advent of certification and the high demand for business analysts has produced a wave of new comers to the profession who may be here for the quick buck, or to avoid layoffs affecting whatever profession they are escaping from. People whose heart, mind, and soul are not in the career of business analyst. And that's a shame. Every profession I'm sure suffers from the same malady of hangers-on or pretenders at the profession. I just didn't think it would happen here, and so soon.