Part of my job as a Business Analyst, it is my responsibility to facilitate business process analysis meetings with a group of very knowledgeable folks. As I stood in front of my audience, I couldn't stop thinking: "What if I don't understand what is going on here? What if I can't comprehend the issues at hand? What if i steer this group to an outcome that is completely irrelevant to the issues at hand?" I was hired in the public health industry at the time and prior to that, I worked in the gaming industry, healthcare, computer software and hardware.
There are many other benefits to having a Business Analyst as a neutral convener. Since some of the outputs of business analysis can be used as input to other processes such as training new hire, a BA with industry bias, will have difficulties relating to those who do not understand the industry, its culture, language and standards.
I still don't know what the benefits of being a vertical BA are. I challenge those in this position to comment on this blog and let us know the benefits of this direction.