Is gaining INFLUENCE of any use to players who don't care to muck about with the BGS?

Yes, the BGS does give a semblance of a living galaxy...but if the devs had not wanted the players to push it around...they would never have attached it to the missions...and the minor factions...the fact that they did, means they expected the players to cooperate and bring about change...regardles of how you might want to paraphrase (some would say, twist) their words.

If they had not wanted the community to 'play the BGS', they could have stopped us right from release...but they reached out to many player groups and let us start figuring out the system...and not very far from that, around the 6 month mark, they actually released enough of the system information, to help everyone play the game the way they designed it.
EDIT: actually, nah, if you're doubting my interpretation of things, I'll just use the below quotes from the livestream.

At roughly 5m, the stream opens up with.
ED: What is the Background Sim?
Dav: So to us, the whole point of the exercise of all the technical systems in elite dangerous that can be branded "the background sim" is to try and bring the galaxy to life. It's a really big galaxy, we've got an awfully large number of players, and we need to make sure that the galaxy responds and tracks every single player action no matter how big or how small.
And just to be balanced,, Adam says at 26:16:
It's a good time to say the BGS is supposed to be, it's meant to be two kind of things, we do want it to be a kind of boardgamey experience that you guys can... get together and as groups try to manipulate the world so it's kindof an enjoyable play experience that goes beyond the normal first range ofactions, but it's also supposed to be there as Dav said earlier to simulate just a working world...
The first statement, to me, is very clear that the purpose of the BGS is to simulate a malleable universe. The second does say it's also there for some overarching group play, but the statement is counterbalanced by referring back to the opening statement.

I interpret that as the "shifting universe" being the primary purpose, and the group-play/strategic overlay as a secondary purpose. If you think differently, hurrah, but based on the BGS development over the years, in my opinion it parallels my interpretation.
 
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If they had not wanted the community to 'play the BGS', they could have stopped us right from release...but they reached out to many player groups and let us start figuring out the system...and not very far from that, around the 6 month mark, they actually released enough of the system information, to help everyone play the game the way they designed it.
EDIT: actually, nah, if you're doubting my interpretation of things, I'll just use the below quotes from the livestream.
Aren't you actually agreeing with each other without realising?
 
I can see possible uses. But then again - I can see possible uses of engineers, too - I just can't be bothered to play OP-Simulator and Grind2018XL. I guess it is just like that with the BGS.
 
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