I think the herd instinct does not allow for people to really excel at whatever it is that they are expert at or passionate about. Herd instinct follows whoever seems to be the strongest and smartest one. A lot of times, this is nothing more than a charismatic front put on.
Herd instinct creates large scale systems behavior. Because such behaviors are leading to aggregate destabilization, through climate change, environmental destruction, warfare, and economic degradation, what is most needed at this point is people willing to break away from a destructive herd mindset and begin advancing new ways of thinking and doing things.
I believe modern society can be harmed by herd behavior or herd instinct. I think this is the case with places like Walmart, when we know something is bad for us, but we just keep going back for more. The same can be said for low wages, where people will willfully do work for less than what is deserved. I don't think herd instinct can be described as a benefit. It can be harmful or helpful, just depends on what the crowd is doing.
No, modern society does not benefit from the herd instinct, because our society on the whole has many bad habits. People follow the herd mentality into credit card debt. Everyone else does it, so people spend large amounts of money that they can't afford in order to keep up with the neighbors.